Personality Trends in the Pilot Population
Main Article Content
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.
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