Performance Under Stress

  • ISBN 9780754670599

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The world is a dangerous place. Many recent events have served to render it unfortunately less safe and there are many arenas of conflict and even combat across the world. Such situations are the quintessential expression of stress. You stand in imminent danger and live with the knowledge that you may be attacked, injured or even killed at any moment. How do people perform under these conditions? How do they keep a heightened level of vigilance when nothing may happen in their immediate location for weeks or even months? What happens when the bullets actually start flying? How is it you distinguish friend from foe, and each from innocent bystanders when in immediate peril of your life? Can we design technology to help people make good decisions in these ultimately hazardous situations?To what degree does your membership in a team act to dissipate these particular effects? Can we generate sufficiently stressful field exercises to simulate these conditions and can we train and/or select those most able to withstand such adverse conditions? How will the next generation of servicemen deal with these inherent problems?
These are the sorts of questions that Performance Under Stress addresses.This book is derived largely from a multiple-year, multiple university (MURI) project on stress and soldier performance on the modern, electronic battlefield. It involved leading researchers from multiple institutions who have each brought their own individual expertise to bear on these crucial, contemporary concerns. United by a common research framework, these respective groups attacked the issue from different methodological and conceptual approaches ranging from traditional laboratory modeling and experimentation to realistic simulations, from involved field exercises to personal experiences of actual combat conditions. The insights that they have generated have here been distilled and presented in order to benchmark the present state of understanding and to provide future directions for research in this arena.Although this work focuses on soldier stress and soldier performance, the principles that are derived extended well beyond this single realm of application. For example, one of the major forms of stress facing the modern soldier is information overload.
However, this is a ubiquitous stress and is one that is faced by people in the business world, in research, in academe, in commercial enterprises and in most sectors of modern technology. This understanding, distilled from the performance of soldiers who stand in the greatest level of extremis, can certainly be applied to those who face similar, if less life-threatening, demands.
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