The Influence of Confidence in Situational Awareness


Consistent results from both studies indicate that the influence of situational awareness (SA) levels on confidence bias was substantial. Both studies recorded greater responses for future confidence bias in comparison to present situation responses; i.e. participants' perceptions were more attuned to the present than to future situations. Both studies further opine that higher performing individuals and teams had lower confidence bias. The results conclude that overconfidence leads to less situational information gathering and, consequently, error-prone decision-making and actions.

1. Urban Warfare Study

Table 1: Absolute Confidence Bias Scores
Individual Team
Present 0.15 0.14
Future 0.22 0.28
  • Significant difference between present versus future absolute confidence bias
  • No significant difference across individual or team-based scores

2. Air Combat Study

Table 2: Absolute Confidence Bias Scores (SA Level)
Individual Team
Level 1 0.10 0.17
Level 2 0.11 0.15
Level 3 0.25 0.36
  • Greater absolute confidence bias for level 3 than level 1 or 2
  • No significant difference across individual or team-based scores


Research approach

The approach for this research was aimed on determining the influence of confidence on (1) the level of present and future SA, and (2) the differences in individual and team-based situations. For this, two areas were focused on: Urban Warfare and Air Combat.


  • Urban Warfare: 32 Students, aged 18-24 years, with experience in the test platform, Counter-StrikeTM (CS), varying between 1-9 years
  • Air Combat: 16 Air Force Fighter Pilots, aged 25 to 37 years, with flight experience varying between 390-2600 flying hours


The level of SA of the participants was determined by comparing the actual test environmental setting against the participant’s situational knowledge. For both the Urban Warfare and Air Combat scenarios, participants were put in team-based and individual scenarios and experienced their respective simulations with deliberate pauses during the experiments to answer queries using a paper-and-pen version of the Situation Assessment Global Assessment Technique (SAGAT).

  • Urban Warfare
    • For the Urban Warfare Experiment, participants’ knowledge of the current and future conditions was used to determine the absolute confidence bias during individual and team-based scenarios
  • Air Combat
    • For the Air Combat Experiment, the participants’ knowledge was divided into three levels of SA, as outlined by Endsley (1995):
      1. Level One: Opinion of the Features in the Environment
      2. Level Two: Understanding of Present Condition
      3. Level Three: Prediction of Future Status

Data analysis

Participants during both studies were assessed using SAGAT queries. Using analysis of variance (ANOVA), the mean and standard deviation were calculated by the average confidence rating from the all items minus the correctly answered items. The items were as follows:

  • For the Urban Warfare Experiment, current and projected location, weapon, activity, health level and weapon reach
  • For the Air Combat Experiment, the factors were further split into Endsley’s three levels:
      1. Level 1: Location, altitude, heading, airspeed, bearing, range, enemy aircraft altitude,
      2. Level 2: If within enemy’s weapon range, and,
      3. Level 3: In position to fire a shot in the subsequent 10 seconds


Endsley (1995) Toward a Theory of Situation Awareness in Dynamic Systems. Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. Texas, USA: Department of Industrial Engineering, Texas Tech University.

Sulistwayati, K., & Chui, Y.P. (2009) Confidence Bias in Situation Awareness. In D. Harris, (Ed.), Engineering Psychology and Cognitive Ergonomics (pp. 600-605). Singapore: Springer Verlag.

Want to know more?

More information on the Situation Assessment Global Assessment Technique (SAGAT)
More information on Analysis of Variance; statistical testing.

Authors / Editors



Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License