A field investigation of some individual differences in the performance and use of an expert system



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Elements of the human-computer interface involve the interaction of a human user with an information system in the context of a task to be accomplished within an organizational environment. This research is concerned with the use of expert system technology and human factors regarding implications for information system designers. Twenty-eight engineers in an oil and gas exploration and production company participated in this study by solving a well pressure buildup analysis problem. Half of the subjects utilized a well test interpretation expert system to assist them while the other subjects solved the problem manually. The groups were balanced across age, cognitive style, and trait anxiety. Independent variables consisted of the expert system treatment, dogmatism, and experience with performing the task. Impact measures consisted of decision confidence, decision quality, decision time, state anxiety, and a system success indicator for those subjects utilizing the expert system. Without a significant increase in decision quality, subjects utilizing the expert system had (1) higher decision confidence and (2) took longer to make their decisions than did the subjects performing the task without the expert system. Of the expert system users, novices evaluated the system with significantly greater success than did the experts. Experts utilizing the expert system experienced higher state anxiety than those experts unaided by the system. Low dogmatic (open-minded) subjects utilizing the expert system noted a significant increase in state anxiety over low dogmatics without the system. The results of this investigation indicate differences in the way individuals with varying experience and dogmatism relate to the expert system in guestion. The findings also point to dysfunctional relationships between the users perception of the expert system and the results obtained. Specifically, although decision confidence was higher in the group utilizing the expert system, there was no corresponding increase in decision quality. Also, experts utilizing the expert system experienced an increase in state anxiety, and rated the expert system significantly worse than the novices.



Expert systems (Computer science)--Psychological aspects, Human-computer interaction