Physical fidelity versus cognitive fidelity training in procedural skills acquisition

Ilanit Hochmitz, Nirit Yuviler-Gavish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The current study examined whether training simulators for the acquisition of procedural skills should emphasize physical fidelity or cognitive fidelity of the task.Background: Simulation-based training for acquiring and practicing procedural skills is becoming widely established. Generally speaking, these simulators offer technological sophistication but disregard theory-based design, leaving unanswered the question of what task features should be represented in the simulators. The authors compared real-world training and two alternative virtual trainers, one emphasizing physical fidelity and the other cognitive fidelity of the task.Method: Participants were randomly assigned to one of four training groups in a LEGO assembly task: virtual-physical fidelity, cognitive fidelity, real world, and control. A posttraining test to assess the development of procedural skills was conducted.Results: Both the virtual-physical fidelity and cognitive fidelity training methods produced better performance time than no training at all, as did the real-world training. The cognitive fidelity training was inferior in terms of test time compared to the real-world training, whereas the virtual-physical fidelity training was not. In contrast, only the real-world and the cognitive fidelity groups, and not the virtual-physical fidelity group, required significantly less time than the control group for error correction.Conclusion: The two training methods have complementary advantages.Application: Combining physical fidelity and cognitive training methods can enhance procedural skills acquisition when real-world training is not practicable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-501
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • human factors
  • trainers
  • transfer of training
  • virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Applied Psychology


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