Implicit Perceptions of Risk and Anxiety and Pilot Involvement in Hazardous Events

Keryn A. Pauley, David O'Hare, Nadia W. Mullen, Mark Wiggins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The aim of the studies was to examine the role of implicit processes in aeronautical risk perception and risk taking. 

Background: Aeronautical decision making consists of both explicit processes (e.g., comparing options, seeking information) and implicit, or intuitive, processes (e.g., immediate affective reactions). The present studies utilized a novel methodology, adapted from studies in social cognition, to examine the relationship between general aviation pilots' implicit reactions toward risk and their involvement in hazardous events. 

Method: The Implicit Association Test was used to measure pilots'(Study 1: N=23; Study 2: N=32) implicit associations between good and bad weather conditions and perceptions of risk and anxiety. 

Results: There was a relationship between the pilots' implicit perceptions and previous involvement in hazardous aeronautical events as measured by D. R. Hunter's (1995, 2002) Hazardous Events Scale. The more weather-related hazardous events the pilots had been involved in, the less they associated implicit risk with adverse weather (Study 1) and the less implicitly anxious they were toward adverse weather (Study 2). 

Conclusion: The results show a relationship between implicit associations and risk-taking behavior. Application: Pilots may be involved in risk-taking behavior because they perceive less risk in, and are implicitly less afraid of, hazardous conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-733
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


  • general-aviation crashes
  • flight rules flight
  • association test
  • self-concept
  • adverse weather
  • attitudes
  • explicit
  • validity
  • drivers
  • esteem


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