Workload Is Multidimensional, Not Unitary: What Now?

  • Gerald MatthewsEmail author
  • Lauren Reinerman-Jones
  • Ryan Wohleber
  • Jinchao Lin
  • Joe Mercado
  • Julian AbichIV
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9183)


It is commonly assumed that workload is a unitary construct, but recent data suggest that there are multiple subjective and objective facets of workload that are only weakly intercorrelated. This article reviews the implications of treating workload as multivariate. Examples from several simulated task environments show that high subjective workload is compatible with a variety of patterns of multivariate psychophysiological response. Better understanding of the cognitive neuroscience of the different components of workload, including stress components, is required. At a practical level, neither subjective workload measures nor single physiological responses are adequate for evaluating task demands, building predictive models of human performance, and driving augmented cognition applications. Multivariate algorithms that accommodate the variability of cognitive and affective responses to demanding tasks are needed.


Workload Task demands Psychophysiology Electroencephalogram (EEG) Electrocardiogram (ECG) Stress Performance Individual differences 



This work was in part supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) (FA 9550-13-1-0016) and the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) (W91CRB-08-D-0015). The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of AFOSR, ARL or the US Government.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerald Matthews
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lauren Reinerman-Jones
    • 1
  • Ryan Wohleber
    • 1
  • Jinchao Lin
    • 1
  • Joe Mercado
    • 1
  • Julian AbichIV
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Simulation and Training (IST)University of Central Florida (UCF)OrlandoUSA

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