Behavioural Perspective of Human Performance

The Behavioural Perspective

The Behavioural Perspective is based on the idea that pilot performance is focused on the need to obtain rewards, and avoid punishment or disagreeable occurrences (Wiegmann & Shappell, 2003). Performance is therefore dependent on a pilot’s motivation as well as their ability.

Models like Peterson’s ‘Motivation, Reward and Satisfaction Model’ (1971, cited in, Wiegmann & Shappell) can assist in understanding how these factors can influence performance and hence error. A pilot who lacks motivation, or a situation which rewards unsafe behaviours, are more likely to be associated with accidents.

Programs which reward safe behaviour and motivate pilots to be safe are useful, but the applicability of the perspective is questioned in aviation, where not 'dying' is the ultimate and overriding motivation for good performance. Also it is hard to see how a simple slip leading to an accident could be linked with a pilot’s motivation. However some human factors researchers, like James Reason (1990) do see the usefulness of this perspective; to a degree. He categorises unsafe acts that are linked to motivation as ‘violations’.

1. WIEGMANN, Douglas, & SHAPPELL, Scott (2003). A human error approach to aviation accident analysis: The Human Factors Analysis and Classification System. Burlington. USA: Ashgate Publishing Company.
2. REASON, James (1990). Human error. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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Other Perspectives
An introduction to other perspectives for understanding human performance and error.

Contributors to this page

Authors / Editors

Anthony FryerAnthony Fryer

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