Ability and task constraint determinants of complex task performance

Previous research on basic information processing tasks has suggested that there may be a dissociation between the underlying process determinants of task performance and associations with ability measures. The current study investigates this dissociation in the context of a complex skill learning task — an air traffic control simulation called TRACON. A battery of spatial, numerical, and perceptual speed ability tests was administered, along with extensive task practice. After practice, manipulations of task requirements and system consistency were introduced. Ability correlations with performance revealed a dissociation between some manipulations that have effects on performance means and the corresponding correlations with reference abilities. Implications for integrating experimental and differential approaches to explaining performance, and possible avenues for improved selection measures are discussed.