The relationship between risk-seeking behaviours and risk-taking in-flight : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand
Aviation safety statistics show that accident levels are increasing, especially in the area of General Aviation. Ever since aviation became a viable option for travel, research has sought to explain the potential causes for accidents and has found that the most common cause is Human Error. This can be defined as any action or in-action that results in an accident that is a direct result of piloting behaviours, such as risk-taking in-flight. Models to guide training organisations in how to best compensate for the affects of Human Error have been developed, however, even with the development of these models, the number of fatalities caused by aviation accidents continues to rise. The current research was developed to investigate the possible relationship between everyday risk-seeking behaviours and risk-taking in-flight. Using a three study format, it first sought to investigate whether there were areas of aviation flight safety which were believed to be of concern by a New Zealand flight instructor focus group. A pilot group study was then used to investigate face, content and construct validities of the Cognitive Appraisal of Risky Events scale (CARE) and Domain-Specific Risk-Taking (Adult) Scale (DOSPERT) on a New Zealand population, for use in study three. Using an online survey presentation the relationship between everyday risk-seeking behaviours and risk-taking in-flight was examined. The survey consisted of presenting participants with the two psychometric measures designed to assess everyday risk-seeking behaviours and sixteen risky in-flight vignettes to measure confidence in taking risks in-flight. Results from the focus group found that the flight instructors believed the areas of alcohol, caffeine, breaches in class two medicals and pilot fatigue levels were all of concern to aviation flight safety. It was found that there were statistically significant relationships between everyday risk-seeking behaviours against the levels of confidence in risk-taking in-flight. Implications of the findings were discussed and finally proposals for further lines of research.