Psychology in Aviation

Table of Contents


Aviation psychology involves the study of human's behaviors, actions, cognitive and emotional processes in the aviation field and also investigates the psychological problems encountered in the flight deck. (Aviation Coaching - Kallus, Hoffmann et al., 2004) Aviation psychology specifically focuses on pilots, flight crews and air traffic controllers and the study of aviation psychology results in increase in work efficiency and safety by promoting smooth operation and interaction between employees. It ensures that there is a balance between automation and employees in the aviation field; and also maintains the emotional and physical health of the employees. (The Free Dictionary, N.D; Brittany, 26 Sept 10)

Aviation psychology originated in relation with the development of aviation medicine and work psychology. It gradually evolved into an independent subject as mental processes during flight are highly specific and require in dept research and understanding. The development of aviation psychology started in the USSR (The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) in 1921 with S.E. Mints, N.M.Dobrotvorskii and K.K. Platonor. The current development in this subject mainly involves the following examples:

  1. In dept research in engineering psychology
  2. Study of in flight environment that influences the mental processes of the flight crew and hence developing solutions to counter or minimize these influences
  3. Recommending improvements that can be made in training procedures, keeping them up to date and effective
  4. Determining the qualification standards of pilots, ensuring that pilots meet the minimum criteria to be able to fly

(The Free Dictionary, N.D)

Aviation psychologists assume responsibilities that are similar to the international ethical standards of regular psychologists. These responsibilities cover areas such as the following :

  1. Selection, training and licencing of potential employees
  2. Optimization of working conditions and system development in the aviation environment
  3. Reduction of safety risks that protect employees from harm
  4. Accident and incident investigation
  5. Crisis interventions and clinical psychological interventions
  6. Capacity and workload management that maximizing efficiency and effectiveness
  7. Quality of team work and team resources, maintaining the standard of work delivered

(Aviation Coaching, N.D)


Aviation psychologists are concerned with pilot performance and improving the provision of information to pilots. Discover why aviation psychologists need to know about sensation, perception, information processing and cognitive bias with help from a licensed mental health counselor in this free video on aviation psychology.

(Video embedded from YouTube on 3 October 2012 )

1. AVIATION COACHING. Aviation Psychology - Definition. (No date) Retrieved from AviationCoaching on 27 September 2012.
2. THE FREE DICTIONARY. Aviation Psychology. (No date) Retrieved from The Free Dictionary on 27 September 2012.
3. AVIATION PSYCHOLOGY. Aviation Psychology - A Little Known Branch of Psychology. By Brittany Olivarez. (26th September 2010) Retrieved from Helping Psychology on 27 September 2012.
4. YOUTUBE. Careers in Psychology : What Is Aviation Psychology?. (May 2009) Retrieved from Youtube on 3 October 2012.

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Authors / Editors

Yan XuanYan Xuan

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