Signal salience was manipulated using configural and object displays to examine their effects on the performance, workload, and stress of vigilance. Improving performance and reducing the workload and stress of vigilance are crucial concerns. Signal salience improves performance and reduces stress, but to date there have been no salience manipulations using configural displays in a vigilance task. Two task types (individual variable monitoring and midpoint identification) and 3 display formats (bar graph-different baselines, bar graph-common baseline, and a polygon graph display) were examined. Configural displays improved performance in the midpoint identification task but not in the individual variable monitoring task. Workload depended on the form of display features (bar graph vs. polygon). Stress increased across all conditions, but task and display format did not affect stress. The midpoint identification task was associated with more emotion-focused and avoidant coping. Increasing signal salience in a vigilance task using configural displays with emergent features or physical contours can improve performance and reduce the decrement. These displays may not reduce the stress of vigilance or encourage task-focused coping. Therefore, there may be hidden costs to vigilance performance even when highly salient configural displays are used.

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