Task disengagement and implications for vigilance performance in CCTV surveillance

Document Type

Journal Article


Springer Verlag


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science


School of Computer and Security Science


Donald F.M., Donald C.H.M. (2014). Task disengagement and implications for vigilance performance in CCTV surveillance. Cognition, Technology and Work, 17(1), 121-130.Available here


This research examines the relationship between behavioural indicators of task disengagement and vigilance performance for closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance operators and novices in a proactive real-world detection task. Seventy-three participants (42 CCTV operators and 31 novices) performed a 90-min CCTV video surveillance task based on asset protection footage in a heavy industry. The study showed a range of individualised responses in managing attention resources in order to deal with vigilance demands. Alternating fluctuations between task engagement and disengagement were found for the majority of participants, indicating efforts to manage attention resources and cope with vigilance demands. Almost a quarter of the sample disengaged during the first 30 min, but a third showed no behavioural indicators of disengagement during the task. Different results were obtained for participants with different types of work exposure (novices and operators from either ‘generalist’ or ‘specialist’ CCTV surveillance operations). Task disengagement was associated with lower detection rates. The implications of task engagement theory and behavioural indictors of task disengagement for the measurement and management of vigilance performance are discussed.