The purpose of this chapter is to provide a conceptual framework–the generic error-modelling system (GEMS)–within which to locate the origins of the basic human error types. This structure is derived in large part from Rasmussen's skill-rule-knowledge classification of human performance (outlined in Chapter 2), and yields three basic error types:
skill-based slips (and lapses)
In particular, GEMS seeks to integrate two hitherto distinct areas of error research: (a) slips and lapses, in which actions deviate from current intention due to execution failures and/or storage failures (see Reason, 1979,1984a,b; Reason & Mycielska, 1982; Norman, 1981; Norman & Shallice, 1980); and (b) mistakes, in which the actions may run according to plan, but where the plan is inadequate to achieve its desired outcome (Simon, 1957, 1983; Wason & Johnson-Laird, 1972; Rasmussen & Jensen, 1974; Nisbett & Ross, 1980; Rouse, 1981; Hunt & Rouse, 1984; Kahneman, Slovic & Tversky, 1982; Evans, 1983).
The chapter begins by explaining why the simple slips/mistakes distinction (outlined in Chapter 1) is not sufficient to capture all of the basic error types. The evidence demands that mistakes be divided into at least two kinds: rulebased mistakes and knowledge-based mistakes. The three error types (skillbased slips and lapses, rule-based mistakes and knowledge-based mistakes) maybe differentiated by a variety of processing, representational and task-related factors, as discussed in Section 2.
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