Deborah A. Boehm-Davis
Following its colloquial meaning, an interruption can be defined as the suspension of one stream of work prior to completion, with the intent of returning to and completing the original stream of work. Most commonly, the original task is suspended to accomplish another task. The intent to return and complete the interrupted task is key to understanding how the cognitive demands of interruptions distinguish it from simply switching from one task to another. Our research on interruptions focuses on different aspects of interruption. First, we are concerned with understanding the features that make interruptions disruptive to primary task performance at a basic level. Second, we are interested in understanding the basic processes that allow people to resume the original task. With this knowledge, we hope to be able to make recommendations for procedures, displays, etc. that can minimize the disruptive effects of interruptions. We have examined interruptions in the laboratory and in office settings. We are now interested in moving our attention to applied settings such as cockpits and hospitals.