Author Topic: Aircraft pilots have below-average emotional intelligence - study  (Read 13263 times)

Offline KB4TEZ

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found this "interesting", wondering commercial Pilots,what are your thoughts ?

American pilots tend to have less emotional intelligence than other Americans, according to a recent academic study.

The findings of this study, published in the peer-reviewed academic journal Scientific Reports, shed light on a metric not often studied among pilots, which could actually help play a role in training pilots in the future.

What is emotional intelligence?
The term emotional intelligence refers to one's ability and capacity to understand, see and handle emotions.  The expression was first coined in the 1960s but gained popularity in the 90s, kicking off decades of research.

A person with a particularly high amount of emotional intelligence will have a better understanding of both their own emotions and those of others. This, in turn, can help with adjusting emotions and understanding situations.

Having high emotional intelligence comes with other benefits, too. For example, prior academic work has pointed to a correlation - although not a causation - between high emotional intelligence and strong leadership skills and positive mental health.

Because emotional intelligence is very useful in the workplace, especially when your job requires dealing with other people, there has been considerable research on the subject and its impact on various sectors, such as healthcare or education.

However, when it comes to the world of flight, the emotional intelligence of pilots has not been studied much before, although limited and inconclusive studies were conducted on military pilots.This is what the study ought to change.

US pilots: Flying high, but feeling fine?
There are two methods when it comes to studying emotional intelligence: Ability EI, which is about using emotional knowledge in a social setting, and Trait EI, which is about self-assessment and self-perception of one's emotional abilities. This study deals with the latter - which makes sense, considering how pilots don't usually interact with other people on the job in comparison to other professions, such as teachers.

According to the study, trait EI is also linked to factors such as mental fortitude, leadership and stress management - traits that are essential for pilots.

To examine these factors, the researchers enlisted a cohort of 44 pilots as participants, each of whom had considerable flight experience. This was contrasted with an 88-strong non-pilot control group, and both groups had taken the TEIQue questionnaire, which is used to study Trait AI.

The questionnaire's findings revealed that pilots scored lower than the control group.

But why is this? The researchers aren't sure, but they have some ideas. For one thing, blame may lie with the culture that surrounds the profession of pilots in general.

Emotional intelligence flies under the radar
"Pilots have long been associated with a masculine culture that emphasizes aggressiveness, competition, and performance orientation," the researchers note, pointing out that the pilot work culture promotes a sense of invulnerability over human weakness. This, in turn, may lead to pilots, mostly male but some female as well, who reflect these cultural traits thanks to the training process.

In other words, pilots may be trained to have less trait emotional intelligence, albeit unintentionally. The study itself is not without flaws, however, due to the sample size and the range of jobs held by the participants.

The study sample size was small and not very diverse, with almost all of the pilots being white males with college backgrounds - although having a college degree may be necessary to make a living as a pilot.

The second flaw was that most of the pilots weren't necessarily just commercial pilots, but were, or currently are, in the military. This raises the question if the military was involved in this as well.

Ultimately, more research is needed to better ascertain the level of trait emotional intelligence among pilots. And that, in turn, could lead to better training and work culture that would place greater value on emotional intelligence.