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Group Dyn. 1998 Sep;2(3):155-67.

Status and cockpit dynamics: a review and empirical study.

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  • 1Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, USA.


One of the most troublesome dynamics evident in the airplane cockpit is related to patterns of authority relations between the captain and the first officer: Too often, captains fail to listen and first officers fail to speak. The authors propose that many instances of superordinate and subordinate behavior in the cockpit--the captain's tendency to reject input from other team members and the first officer's hesitancy to question the captain--represent cases of status generalization. First, the authors describe the theory of status generalization and show support for the operation of the theory by presenring examples of flightcrew behavior that the theory predicts. Second, an initial empirical test was conducted to instantiate the claim that captain-first officer differences can be seen as status differences. Finally, the significance and implications of this perspective are discussed.

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