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Stress, Cognition, and Human Performance: A Literature Review and Conceptual FrameworkThe following literature review addresses the effects of various stressors on cognition. While attempting to be as inclusive as possible, the review focuses its examination on the relationships between cognitive appraisal, attention, memory, and stress as they relate to information processing and human performance. The review begins with an overview of constructs and theoretical perspectives followed by an examination of effects across attention, memory, perceptual-motor functions, judgment and decision making, putative stressors such as workload, thermals, noise, and fatigue and closes with a discussion of moderating variables and related topics. In summation of the review, a conceptual framework for cognitive process under stress has been assembled. As one might imagine, the research literature that addresses stress, theories governing its effects on human performance, and experimental evidence that supports these notions is large and diverse. In attempting to organize and synthesize this body of work, I was guided by several earlier efforts (Bourne & Yaroush, 2003; Driskell, Mullen, Johnson, Hughes, & Batchelor, 1992; Driskell & Salas, 1996; Haridcock & Desmond, 2001; Stokes & Kite, 1994). These authors should be credited with accomplishing the monumental task of providing focused reviews in this area and their collective efforts laid the foundation for this present review. Similarly, the format of this review has been designed in accordance with these previous exemplars. However, each of these previous efforts either simply reported general findings, without sufficient experimental illustration, or narrowed their scope of investigation to the extent that the breadth of such findings remained hidden from the reader. Moreover, none of these examinations yielded an architecture that adequately describes or explains the inter-relations between information processing elements under stress conditions.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Ames Research Center
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Mark A Staal
(Ames Research Center Mountain View, California, United States)
Date Acquired
September 7, 2013
Publication Date
August 1, 2004
Subject Category
Behavioral Sciences
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: RTOP 728-20-30
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
Human performance
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