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Can groups stave off fatigue? The effects of group monitoring upon fatigue induced cognitive impairment

Fatigue is a widespread problem affecting a variety of industries including manufacturing, transportation and the military. The effects of fatigue include poor decision making and lowered vigilance. The group monitoring hypothesis suggests that group membership may serve to negate fatigue related impairment on a variety of tasks including vigilance, problem solving and risk assessment. Participants (recruited from the University of London Officer Training Corp) will undertake various cognitive tasks while either fatigued or non-fatigued, and while either alone or in a group. The performance of individuals, group members on their own and groups as a whole will be compared. This will allow protective aspects group membership (such as increased accountability and informational comparison) to be tested, and underlying processes identified. It is predicted that while individuals will be highly affected by fatigue during cognitive tasks, impairment will be reduced amongst fatigued group members. When group members pool information about a task, a further reduction in fatigue related impairment is predicted. The findings of this research will increase our understanding of the ways in which groups function, and suggest ways in which the protective social processes present in fatigued groups can be incorporated in everyday working practice.