Situation Awareness: A Critical But Ill-Defined Phenomenon
This chapter reviews past attempts to define the phenomenon. It analyzes the cognitive processes involved in achieving and maintaining situation awareness (SA), and differentiates the phenomenon from other performance-related psychological concepts. The chapter emphasizes the significance of the temporal dimension of situation awareness. Temporal awareness requires the diagnosis of problems that are caused or influenced by precursors in the past as well as the prognosis and prevention of potential future problems based on the analysis of currently available data. Situation awareness is based on the integration of knowledge resulting from recurrent situation assessments. Mental models refer to systems or devices that can be represented by a finite number of elements and algorithms, whereas situation awareness is about a continuously changing open system involving a large variety of unpredictable and interacting agents and devices. Adequate feedback of system state and behavior is essential for the pilot's situation awareness.