Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Effects of an unexpected and expected event on older adults' autonomic arousal and eye fixations during autonomous driving

Stephenson, Alice C., Eimontaite, Iveta, Caleb-Solly, Praminda, Morgan, Phillip L. ORCID:, Khatun, Tabasum, Davis, Joseph and Alford, Chris 2020. Effects of an unexpected and expected event on older adults' autonomic arousal and eye fixations during autonomous driving. Frontiers in Psychology 11 , 571961. 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.571961

[thumbnail of Morgan. Effects of an]
PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (3MB) | Preview


Driving cessation for some older adults can exacerbate physical, cognitive, and mental health challenges due to loss of independence and social isolation. Fully autonomous vehicles may offer an alternative transport solution, increasing social contact and encouraging independence. However, there are gaps in understanding the impact of older adults’ passive role on safe human–vehicle interaction, and on their well-being. 37 older adults (mean age ± SD = 68.35 ± 8.49 years) participated in an experiment where they experienced fully autonomous journeys consisting of a distinct stop (an unexpected event versus an expected event). The autonomous behavior of the vehicle was achieved using the Wizard of Oz approach. Subjective ratings of trust and reliability, and driver state monitoring including visual attention strategies (fixation duration and count) and physiological arousal (skin conductance and heart rate), were captured duringthejourneys.Resultsrevealedthatsubjectivetrustandreliabilityratingswerehigh afterjourneysforbothtypesofevents.Duringanunexpectedstop,overtvisualattention was allocated toward the event, whereas during an expected stop, visual attention was directed toward the human–machine interface (HMI) and distributed across the central and peripheral driving environment. Elevated skin conductance level reflecting increased arousal persisted only after the unexpected event. These results suggest that safety-critical events occurring during passive fully automated driving may narrow visual attention and elevate arousal mechanisms. To improve in-vehicle user experience for older adults, a driver state monitoring system could examine such psychophysiological indices to evaluate functional state and well-being. This information could then be used to make informed decisions on vehicle behavior and offer reassurance during elevated arousal during unexpected events. Keywords: autonomous vehicle, eye tracking, heart rate, human–machine interaction, human–machine interface, older adults, skin conductance level, trust

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: Frontiers
ISSN: 1664-1078
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 29 September 2020
Date of Acceptance: 26 August 2020
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 05:27

Citation Data

Cited 4 times in Scopus. View in Scopus. Powered By Scopus® Data

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics