Emotional intelligence, safety behavior, and peer-assessed pilot performance

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Engineering


Flying is a stressful and demanding profession that requires both technical and nontechnical skills. Traditionally, technical skills such as aircraft knowledge and flight control-handling took precedence over nontechnical skills such as interpersonal skills, stress management, and leadership. However, over the past four decades increased emphasis has been placed on pilots' abilities to work together as a cohesive team. The purpose of this thesis was to explore the relationship between trait emotional intelligence, safety attitude, and safety citizenship to identify which constructs play the most prominent role in affecting peer-assessed pilot crew resource management. Using a web-based survey composed of validated instruments, information was gathered from pilots (n=44) from both military and civilian backgrounds. Results indicated a significant association between safety citizenship and trait emotional intelligence and between safety citizenship and peer assessed crew resource management performance. Only a marginal association was identified between trait emotional intelligence and safety attitude. Additionally, comparison of the trait emotional intelligence profiles of the pilots with the general population indicated that pilots have muted emotion-related tendencies with lower scores than their non-pilot peers. Finally, research was conducted to evaluate principal component analysis, a statistical method, as a pilot selection tool using pilot trait emotional intelligence and safety tendencies as selection criteria. Results demonstrated strong potential for the implementation of principal component analysis as a less-subjective method to select pilots during the hiring or crew-matching process. Pilots, therefore, seem to differ from the general population with unique trait emotional intelligence profiles. When assessing peer performance, pilots tend to most value peers with high safety citizenship tendencies, which also closely associates with high trait emotional intelligence.




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