Systematic Procedural Error


Have you ever left your bankcard in an ATM? Or left your original document on a photocopier or flatbed scanner? Or left your gas cap somewhere after filling up your tank? Or any other kind of error where you've fogotten that last little bit, after you're more or less done with your task? If so, then you've made a postcompletion error.

Dr. Byrne is the coiner of that term and the first (that we know of) to successfully produce postcompletion errors in the laboratory. Work in the 1990s established that this error is most likely a form of working memory overload; more recent work has looked into how such errors might be mitigated by task or system design.

In the course of these investigations, we have discovered a veritable gold mine of information about how people make errors in routine procedural tasks. What are those? Those are tasks which people do at least somewhat regularly, where there is essentially no problem-solving, people are just executing the steps. What we have discovered (which dovetails nicely with the work on visual attention) is that errors in these tasks are in many cases a function of the visual layout of the controls (e.g., buttons) used to represent the task.

We have also been involved in looking more widely at how errors might be modeled in general, and how regularities in the environment may contribute to how people make errors.

This work is currently supported by the Office of Naval Research.

Recent Relevant Papers

Chung, P. H., & Byrne, M. D. (accepted). Cue effectiveness in mitigating postcompletion errors in a routine procedural task. Manuscript conditionally accepted to International Journal of Human-Computer Studies.

Byrne, M. D., & Davis, E. M. (in press). Task structure and postcompletion error in the execution of a routine procedure. To appear in Human Factors.

Tamborello, F. P., II, Chung, P. H, & Byrne, M. D. (2008). Where no interface has gone before: What can the phaser tell us about label usage in HCI? CHI 2008 Extended Abstracts. [PDF]

Byrne, M. D., Kirlik, A., & Fick, C. S. (2006). Kilograms matter: Rational analysis, ecological rationality, and computational cognitive modeling of dynamic system control. In A. Kirlik (Ed.) Adaptive perspectives on human-technology interaction: Models and methods for cognitive engineering and human-computer interaction (pp 267-284). New York: Oxford University Press. [link]

Fotta, M. E., Byrne, M. D., & Luther, M. S. (2005). Developing a human error modeling architecture (HEMA). In Proceedings of Human-Computer International 2005. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. [PDF]

Byrne, M. D., & Kirlik, A. (2005). Using computational cognitive modeling to diagnose possible sources of aviation error. International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 15, 135-155. [PDF]

Byrne, M. D., Maurier, D., Fick, C. S., & Chung, P. H. (2004). Routine procedural isomorphs and cognitive control structures. In C. D. Schunn, M. C. Lovett, C. Lebiere & P. Munro (Eds.), Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Cognitive Modeling (pp. 52-57). [PDF]

Chung, P. H. (2004). Visual Cues to Reduce Error in Computer-based Routine Procedural Tasks. Master's Thesis, Rice University, Houston, TX. [PDF]

Chung, P. H., & Byrne, M. D. (2004). Visual cues to reduce errors in a routine procedural task. Proceedings of the Twenty-Sixth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. [PDF]

Byrne, M. D. (2003). A mechanism-based framework for predicting routine procedural errors. In R. Alterman & D. Kirsh (Eds.)Proceedings of the Twenty-Fifth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Last modified 2006.07.17