Mental Models of Construction Workers for Safety-Sign Representation

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

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Original languageEnglish
Article number4016091
Journal / PublicationJournal of Construction Engineering and Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


Previous studies have found that construction workers have considerable difficulties in safety-sign comprehension. This research examines the mental models of construction workers regarding safety-sign representations, and how user factors and referent characteristics affects these mental models. Twenty-two Hong Kong Chinese construction workers drew their mental models (pictures of the perceptions that came to mind) for 12 sign referents and described verbally their drawings. The influences of the four referent characteristics to mental model formation were not equivalent. Concreteness was the best predictor, followed by ease of visualization, familiarity, and context availability. The higher the visual imagery vividness of construction workers, the higher the proportion of their mental models for sign referents that were recognized as stereotypes. Other user factors had no significant effect on mental model formation. This knowledge of how user mental models of sign referents and how the representation was built in user minds would be beneficial for practitioners to enable better processing and practicing mental model approaches to safety-signs design for use in sites.

Research Area(s)

  • Construction worker, Ergonomics, Labor and personnel issues, Mental model, Safety intervention, Safety sign