Perceived Workload and Performance in the Presence of a Malodor

  • William Y. Pike
  • Michael D. Proctor
  • Christina-Maile C. Pico
  • Mark V. MazzeoEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 780)


As part of an olfactory adaptation experiment, researchers collected NASA Task Load Index (TLX) data from United States Military Academy cadets who completed two complex tasks in either the presence or absence of a simulated malodor. Results showed that participants exposed to the odor twice tended to show a decrease in perceived mental demand during the second task. Furthermore, these participants also showed a higher correlation coefficient between decrease in mental demand and improvement in task performance. Taken together, these results indicate a possible link between olfactory adaptation and perceived mental demand, at least in the presence of a malodor.


Perceived workload Perceived mental demand NASA Task Load Index Malodor Olfactory adaptation 


  1. 1.
    Schiffman, S.S., Williams, C.M.: Science of odor as a potential health issue. J. Environ. Qual. 34, 581–588 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Asmus, C.L., Bell, P.A.: Effects of environmental odor and coping style on negative affect, anger, arousal, and escape. J. Appl. Soc. Psych. 29, 245–250 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Smeets, M.A.M., Dalton, P.H.: Evaluating the human response to chemicals: odor, irritation and non-sensory factors. Environ. Toxicol. Pharm. 19, 129–138 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Rotton, J.: Affective and cognitive consequences of malodorous pollution. Basic Appl. Soc. Psych. 4, 171–191 (1983)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Stuck, B.A., Fadel, V., Hummel, T., Sommer, J.U.: Subjective olfactory desensitization and recovery in humans. Chem. Senses 39, 151–157 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Mainland, J.D., Lundström, J.N., Reisert, J., Lowe, G.: From molecule to mind: an integrative perspective on odor intensity. Trends Neurosci. 37, 443–454 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Dalton, P.: Psychophysical and behavioral characteristics of olfactory adaptation. Chem. Senses 25, 487–492 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Pike, W.Y., Proctor, M.D., Burgess, D.N.: Reliability and feasibility considerations in the assessment of a malodor adaptation technique: a pilot study. Mil. Med. 182, e1521–e1527 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hart, S.: NASA-task load index (NASA-TLX): 20 years later. In: Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, pp. 904–908. Sage Publishing, Los Angeles, CA (2006)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cao, A., Chintamani, K.K., Pandya, A.K., Ellis, R.D.: NASA TLX: software for assessing subjective mental workload. Behav. Res. Methods 41, 113–117 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Eggemeier, F.T.: Properties of workload assessment techniques. Adv. Psychol. 52, 41–62 (1988)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Hart, S.G., Staveland, L.E.: Development of NASA-TLX (Task Load Index): results of empirical and theoretical research. Adv. Psychol. 52, 139–183 (1988)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Rubio, S., Diaz, E., Martin, J., Puente, J.M.: Evaluation of subjective mental workload: a comparison of SWAT, NASA-TLX, and workload profile methods. Appl. Psychol. 53, 61–86 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Byers, J.C., Bittner, A.C., Hill, S.G.: Traditional and raw task load index (TLX) correlations: are paired comparisons necessary? Advances in Industrial Ergonomics and Safety, pp. 481—485. Taylor & Francis, Abingdon, UK (1989)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Cohen, J.: A Power Primer. Psychol. Bull. 112, 155–159 (1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Wiebe, E., Behrand, S.: An examination of two mental workload measurement approaches to understanding multimedia learning. Comput. Hum. Behav. 26, 474–481 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature (outside the USA) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Y. Pike
    • 1
  • Michael D. Proctor
    • 2
  • Christina-Maile C. Pico
    • 3
  • Mark V. Mazzeo
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.United States Army Research Laboratory Human Research and Engineering Directorate Simulation and Training Technology CenterOrlandoUSA
  2. 2.University of Central Florida Industrial Engineering and Management SystemsOrlandoUSA
  3. 3.United States Army Corps of EngineersFort BraggUSA

Personalised recommendations