Personality Trends in the Pilot Population

Main Article Content

Maria E Chaparro
Meredith Carroll
Shem Malmquist


Personality has been acknowledged since the 1970’s as an influencing factor in pilot performance and training outcomes (King, 2014; Bartram, 1995). Since the late 1940’s, pilot selection techniques have included personality related questions (Olson, Phillips, &Walker, 2009; Callister, King, Retzlaff, & Marsh, 1999; Dolgin & Gib, 1988; Fiske, 1947). Unfortunately, despite the large number of different personality indexes used within this line of research, there has not been an aggregation of all aviation studies examining pilot personality and its impact on performance and success. In the current effort, a literature review was conducted to identify research that examined pilot personality traits, and a high-level summary of the findings related to trends in pilot personality traits is provided. The summary includes an examination of personality traits across the differing pilot categories (i.e., commercial, student, and military pilots) and pilot genders. When examining pilots, in general, compared to a general population, consistent with past research, pilots tend to exhibit personality traits lower in neuroticism, higher in extraversion, equivalent in openness, lower in agreeableness, and higher in conscientiousness. However, when different pilot categories are examined, the trends are not as ubiquitous. For instance, commercial pilots research consistently shows pilots to have higher levels of conscientiousness than the general population; however, for military and student pilots the results are not equivocal. We present here the methods and results associated with our review of the literature and provide a discussion of what can be gleaned and future research needed.

Article Details

Literature Reviews
Author Biographies

Maria E Chaparro, Florida Institute of Technology

Maria Chaparro received a B.S. in Technical Communication and New Media from the University of South Florida, an M.S. in Aviation Human Factors, and is currently an Aviation Sciences Ph.D. student at the Florida Institute of Technology. Her research interests include sustained attention and performer/learner engagement in complex monitoring tasks in both operational and training contexts as well as the usability of mobile applications.

Meredith Carroll, Florida Institute of Technology

Dr. Meredith Carroll is an Associate Professor of Aviation Human Factors at Florida Tech’s College of Aeronautics. She has over 15 years of experience studying human/team performance and training in complex systems focusing on decision making, cognition and learning, performance assessment and adaptive training. She received her B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Virginia, her Masters in Aviation Science from Florida Institute of Technology and her Ph.D. in Applied Experimental Psychology and Human Factors from the University of Central Florida. 

Shem Malmquist, Florida Institute of Technology

Captain Malmquist is a visiting professor at the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) and an active current B-777 Captain operating predominantly international routes.  He has been an international pilot for the bulk of the last 32 years, instructed in a variety of both general aviation and transport aircraft, and has experience with automation and human factors, pilot loss of control, aircraft state awareness, several major aircraft accident investigations, and aircraft performance analysis. He has an MS in Human Factors in Aeronautics from FIT and a BS in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle University.   


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