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Psychology In Aviation: Airline Industry

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Write about the Psychology in Aviation for Airline Industry.




The airline industry has its goals and objectives which are required to be met by everyone working in the industry. Just like any other organization, its main objective is to serve customers in the best way possible which leads to making maximum profit at the end of the day. For many individuals, air travel is their way of life. Thus, airline industry must put effort to offer the best services. It must be appreciated that psychology plays a big role in airline industry especially the issue of mental health and fear of flying. This paper reviews deeply how ideas from psychology enhance management practice in the airline industry.

Fear of Flying

Fear of flying is a common issue among potential passengers who travel on daily basis. Events like terrorist occurrences on the Twin Towers and Pentagon through hijacking may also lead to greater number of individuals with the anxiety of flight (Tsang and Vidulich, 2002, p. 596). Some individuals fear flying because of the stories and the cases that have happened in the air as people are on the flight. Fear of flying, whether it is experienced to a high degree, moderate, or mild, can influence an individual’s life in different ways. Fear of flying can interfere with social, professional and family events. Since flying is an integral section of people’s life in industrialized states, there are treatment programs which have been advanced to assist those with flight anxiety. The treatment methods used have been confirmed to reduce the fear of flying in an effective way. Nonetheless, not much is known about the tactic which functions the best in controlling fear of flying. So as to treat the issue of fear of flying most proficiently, it is crucial to find out the risk features for flight anxiety. Cognitive issues have frequently been viewed to be linked with indicators of panic and anxiety. Additionally, the way individuals handle cognitively with stressful events can be a significant aspect in determining well-being of passengers (St. George, 2010, p. 391). Cognitive treatment approaches like rumination, catastrophizing, and self-blame have been discovered to have an affirmative association with maladjustment, while affirmative reassessment has been discovered to have a destructive association with maladjustment (Curtis, Jentsch and Wise, 2010, p. 440).

Research has suggested that individuals who are anxious about flying usually think to a substantial degree on what ladders to take as well as the way to tackle stressful moments while in a flight. Additionally, they even think about the thoughts and feelings linked to the flight as well as having views of playing along with the significance of the incident or highlighting it moderately when associated with supplementary actions. Evidently, the respondents in the test taken seemed to have lesser considerations of clearly stressing the fear of the flight as well as placing the fault of what they had experienced before (Jensen, 1997, p. 339). Most individuals with flight anxiety use self-blame, catastrophizing, and rumination at a higher level than other strategies. The degree to which rumination is utilized by these individuals is equivalent to a locus cluster of psychiatric patients. Notably, acceptance, affirmative reassessment, positioning into outlook and supplementary culpability are used to a lesser degree when they are compared to a group of reference individuals in a certain population. Additionally, the association between the cognitive coping method and anxiety signs shows that people who use self-blame, rumination and acceptance at a higher level are likely to show the higher extent of anxiety which is generalized, fearful anxiety, anxiety while anticipating a flight, anxiety in association with flights, as well as anxiety during flying (Wilson, Caldwell and Russell, 2007, p. 240). There are higher levels of physical signs as a countenance of nervousness in flight states and upsetting thoughts as an appearance of concern in flight circumstances. These same associations with anxiety which are generalized were seen in studies that measured cognitive managing as an extra universal coping technique. The findings of an experiment of cognitive coping strategies suggest that beliefs of self-blame for what an individual has gone through, beliefs of accepting what one has gone through and thoughts linked with aeroplanes, and beliefs of clearly highlighting the fear of the aeroplane are not an actual technique to tackle flying experiences and may lead to greater anxiety degree (Soeters and Boer, 2009, p.121).

The study taken suggested that many cognitive coping techniques were connected to anxiety. Thus, programs of treatment may pay better attention to the cognitive coping techniques. It may be performed by challenging the techniques which were maladaptive such as acceptance, self-blame, catastrophising and rumination (Helmreich, Merritt and Wilhelm, 1999, p. 32). In particular, rumination followed by the act of acceptance and self-blame must receive better attention because they are utilized to the greatest level by individuals with flight anxiety. The tactic could be assimilated into the well-developed cognitive rehabilitations that emphasize on shifting irrational and dysfunctional cognitions. Most organizations which focus on treating flight anxiety involve cognitive restructuring and coping training. The study offered significant clues concerning which cognitive coping techniques were to be challenged in the process of treatment programs. So as to find a better inclusive view, upcoming studies must also emphasize on additional managing strategies, like behavioral managing techniques as well as the habit of prescription or liquor to manage with flight anxiety (Wiegmann and Shappell, 2001, p. 350).


Mental Health

Just like aviation which is a large field, mental health also keeps on evolving as time goes by. The mental health issues and mental health specialists who have some negative reaction side with those accountable for worker mental health, either due to the fact that the matters have been neglected or ignored or due to the presence of issues which have been taken for disadvantage or at times doing away with the career of a person (Stout, Salas and Kraiger, 1997, p. 239). Most of the time the issue of mental health is used when things are not right that is when they go wrong, and that is the only time mental health appears to have some relevance. “Things go wrong” with a pilot, flight, the controller of air traffic, or sometimes with the engineer of aircraft maintenance. Evidently, this perception is unfortunate as most members of crew appreciate and accept as of their human features progresses as well as training crew resource management accept that those psychological features have a significant function to play in efficient and safe flight (St. George, 2010, p. 391).

Numerous physical and psychological challenges to flight have been there to both passengers and crew from ancient days of powered and controlled flight, over a decade ago. Notably, there have been outstanding accomplishments in engineering over the previous decade which have made the issue of air travel both highly and possibly available in the period of a solo lifetime, but the achievements have not been made without some challenges (Salas, Bowers and Prince, 1998, p. 195). Once evolutionary obstacles to movement are surpassed, various consequences are extracted, the greatest mutual of which are movement fatigue, jet lag, sickness, and raised stress as well as arousal. For crew in the flight, there might be extra issues which are related to decision-making, judgment, concentration, perception and many others (St. George, 2010, p.390). The issue of air travel brings individuals to be close to strangers and also put people in a situation of trusting professionals who are unseen; therefore it is relevant to understand social psychology which is related to behavior in teams and groups. Flight also disturbs human-associated; work-shift, prolonged or work nonattendances from home, and stress may together exact demand resilience and toll and outstanding coping habits (Smith et al., 1997, p. 239).

The insights help people understand that there are main sources which are five in number related to mental health issues among employees in aviation. They involve stresses related to safety, coping and survival. Additionally, there are stresses which emanate from a lot of workloads, how works are structured and the managerial climate such as frequency of flights, rostering, jet lag, financial challenges, and pensions. There are personal issues which stalk from interruption to personal associations which scientific investigation proposes must act as a bumper to stress which result from work. Ever-present manners concerning the loss of authorization as a consequence of the beginning of a prohibiting medical situation, and standard psychological difficulties that happen logically in the ordinary life of the residents.

Many military and airline pilots repute the possible worth of psychology as fairly humorous. Aviation mental health involves six major tasks which include the following: choosing out those viewed to be psychologically ailing to work or fly within the company. It also monitors the psychological health of individuals who usually establish psychological issues in the progression in their job. The other task is determining if and for the period of time an individual is not fit to work or fly in aviation. Additionally, it also supports individuals who are thought to be unhealthy to fly emotionally, whether briefly or for a longer period. Last, it prevents mental health issues through active intervention, research, and health elevation (Wickens, 2008, p. 370).


In conclusion, some individuals are anxious about flights, and it leads to flight anxiety. It has been a major concern to the extent that there are programs which are set to cater for this problem. The issue may be performed by challenging the techniques which were maladaptive such as acceptance, self-blame, catastrophizing and rumination. Mental health is also a crucial issue, and for an individual to work in the airline industry, one must have a good mental health condition.



Curtis, M. T., Jentsch, F. and Wise, J. A. (2010) ‘Aviation Displays’, in Human Factors in Aviation, pp. 439–478. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-374518-7.00014-6.

St. George, R. (2010) ‘Review of Aviation psychology and human factors.’, The International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 20(4), pp. 390–393. doi: 10.1080/10508414.2010.520579.

Helmreich, R. L., Merritt,  a C. and Wilhelm, J. a (1999) ‘The evolution of Crew Resource Management training in commercial aviation.’, The International journal of aviation psychology, 9(1), pp. 19–32. doi: 10.1207/s15327108ijap0901_2.

Jensen, R. S. (1997) ‘The Boundaries of Aviation Psychology, Human Factors, Aeronautical Decision Making, Situation Awareness, and Crew Resource Management’, International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 7(4), pp. 331–341. doi: 10.1207/s15327108ijap0704.

Salas, E., Bowers, C. A. and Prince, C. (1998) ‘Special Issue on Simulation and Training in Aviation’, International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 8(3), p. 195. doi: 10.1207/s15327108ijap0803_1.

Smith, C. S., Lewin, E. K., Hancock, A., McCarthy, C., Miller, T., Tsang, P., Colle, A., Reid, B., Backs, W., Lenneman, K., Veltman, H., Gaillard, A., van, B. L., Jensen, E., Dennehy, K., Deighton, D. B., Prince, C., Salas, E., MacLeod, S., Newman, M., Tattersall, J., O’Connor, L., Hardiman, T., Dhiomasaigh, L. N., McCarthy, J., Muir, C. and Cobbett, A. (1997) ‘Aviation psychology’, Engineering psychology and cognitive ergonomics, Vol. 1: Transportation systems., pp. 229–336.

Soeters, J. L. and Boer, P. C. (2009) ‘Culture and Flight Safety in Military Aviation’, The International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 10(2), pp. 111–133. doi: 10.1207/S15327108IJAP1002.

Stout, R. J., Salas, E. and Kraiger, K. (1997) ‘The role of trainee knowledge structures in aviation team environments.’, The International journal of aviation psychology, 7(3), pp. 235–50. doi: 10.1207/s15327108ijap0703_4.

Tsang, P. S. and Vidulich, M. A. (2002) Principles and Practice of Aviation Psychology, Human Factors in Transportation. Available at:

Wickens, C. (2008) ‘Aviation’, in Handbook of Applied Cognition, pp. 361–389. doi: 10.1002/9780470713181.ch14.

Wiegmann, D. A. and Shappell, S. A. (2001) ‘Human Error Perspectives in Aviation’, Journal of Aviation Psychology, 11(4), pp. 341–357. doi: 10.1207/S15327108IJAP1104_2.

Wilson, G. F., Caldwell, J. A. and Russell, C. A. (2007) ‘Performance and Psychophysiological Measures of Fatigue Effects on Aviation Related Tasks of Varying Difficulty’, The International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 17(2), pp. 219–247. doi: 10.1080/10508410701328839.


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