Friendly Fire and the Proportion of Friends or Foes

Kyle Wilson, Kristin M. Finkbeiner, Neil R. De Joux, James Head, William S. Helton

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Losses of inhibitory control may be partly responsible for some friendly fire incidents. The Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART; Robertson, Manly, Andrade, Baddeley, & Yiend, 1997) may provide an appropriate empirical model for this. The current investigation aimed to provide an ecologically valid application of the SART to a small arms simulation and examine the effect of different proportions of enemy to friendly confederates. Seven university students engaged in a small arms simulation where they cleared a building floor using a near-infrared emitter gun, tasked with firing at confederates representing enemies and withholding fire to confederates representing friends. All participants completed three conditions which were differentiated by the proportion of enemies to friends present. As hypothesized, participants failed to withhold responses more often when the proportion of foes was higher, suggesting that a prepotent motor response routine had developed. This effect appeared to be disproportionately more substantial in the high foe condition relative to the others. Participants also subjectively reported higher levels of on-task focus as foe proportions increased, suggesting that they found this more mentally demanding. Future research could examine closer the nature of the performance reductions associated with high proportions of foes, as it appears that this is more complex than a simple linear relationship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1204-1208
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes
Event58th International Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society - Chicago, United States
Duration: 27 Oct 201431 Oct 2014
Conference number: 58


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