When the going gets tough, your pupils tell the story.
Lifting heavy loads often can make your back, arms and legs tired. If you’re working in a warehouse or in construction, your muscles may suffer, and this could garner attention. As Jung Hyup Kim, an assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering in the MU College of Engineering says,
“If your vitals are bad, then something is wrong with your body and doctors will work to figure out what’s wrong with you.”
But what about your mental health?
This is a bit trickier to pin down. But researchers working with Kim at the University of Missouri-Columbia have changed that. They recently discovered that the size of your pupils could be the key to measuring your mental state while hard at work.
By simulating an oil and gas refinery plant control room, researchers tracked exactly how your eyes change under stress. They used a workload metric developed by NASA for its astronauts, and compared the data they gathered against this.
As alarm bells rang out and unexpected changes arose, tracking technology followed the participants eyes.
The results? When you’re being maxed out, it was found that your eyes behave more erratically. When tasks are simple, our eyes search in predictable ways. But when the sh%t hits the fan, so to speak, you have more trouble finding what you’re looking for.
Researchers say they’re hoping the results will help industry create safer work environments. They also hope to make educators aware of how much stress students can handle before it has a negative effect on performance.