The 'similarity index' as a measure of situation awareness in field studies
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The aim of this paper is to present a methodology where the extent of information sharing among team members is used as an indicator of shared mental models (SMM) and situation awareness (SA). Data collection procedures and probe materials are described for two field experiments performed among emergency management teams in the hydrocarbon industry. Methods are suggested for calculating a “similarity index” by comparing a team member’s responses with the average response in the team or with the responses of the team member assumed to be best informed. It is argued that similarity to team average could be a measure of SMM, whereas similarity to the best-informed team member could be argued to be an indicator of SA. The degree of compliance in responding to the probes is reported, as is the degree to which the extent of shared information differed between the probe questions or according to team positions. Lessons learned from the data collection are summarized, and the applicability of the similarity index as a measure of SA is discussed. Some advantages of the current approach are presented, as are challenges and inherent assumptions in future applications of this approach.