Examining the relationship between shift pattern, risk perception, fatigue, subjective well-being and stress among Mongolian air traffic controllers : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Aviation at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand
The relationship between shift pattern, fatigue, unrealistic optimism, stress and
subjective well-being, may affect the safety of air traffic controllers and their likelihood of
continuing in the occupation.
The aim of this thesis was therefore to investigate the effect of shift pattern (fixed or
rotating) on fatigue, unrealistic optimism, stress and subjective well-being among
Mongolian air traffic controllers.
A battery of four separate questionnaires (and nine demographic items) was completed
by 124 Mongolian air traffic controllers (response rate 71%), of whom there were 31
females and 93 males. Length of employment ranged from two months to 28 years.
The main findings were that air traffic controllers who work rotating shifts reported
higher subjective fatigue, lower subjective well-being and higher stress compared to their
colleagues working in fixed shifts. In addition, there was strong evidence of unrealistic
optimism towards both general life and air traffic control specific events. Subsequent
investigation revealed that unrealistic optimism towards an air traffic control specific
events, was approximately two times less than that towards general life events. There was
no evidence that shift pattern, fatigue, unrealistic optimism, stress and subjective well-being
were related to the length of employment of participants or the likelihood of continuing in
their chosen profession.
As unrealistic optimism may affect judgment and decision-making (and it can lead to
unnecessary risk-taking in aviation), this lower level of unrealistic optimism towards air
traffic specific negative events is considered to be a positive finding. However, it was noted
that the overall mean of the perceived stress score of Mongolian air traffic controllers was
higher than that of New Zealand air traffic controllers, although lower than New Zealand
college students and a smoking-cessation sample.
Mongolian air traffic controllers are prey to both unrealistic optimism and the effect of
shift pattern on their fatigue, stress and well-being. This thesis highlights the need to be
aware that this might lead to compromised decision-making and subsequently, unnecessary