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The fatality rate for aircraft pilots and flight engineers for the year 2007 was 66.7 per 100,000 employees (DOL, 2008). That figure was much higher than the all occupations average of 3.7 fatalities per 100,000 employees in the same year. Among the most dangerous of all of the selected occupations in that same report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was fishing, with 111.8 fatalities per 100,000 workers, and logging, with 86.4 fatalities per 100,000 workers (see Figure 2). The BLS staff reported that the all worker fatality rate represented a slight overall decline that has been occurring over the Accident Rate per 100,000 Flight Hours by Year past 10 years.
Accidents per 100,000 flight hours

0.3 0.25

0.15 0.1 0.05 0


Figure 1. Accident rates in professional aviation have varied over recent years, with the highest accident rates per 100,000 flight hours occurring in 2003, and the least per 100,000 flight hours occurring in 2004.


Aviation accidents were investigated by several researchers in recent years. Further review of those investigations revealed that a pattern of probable causes was present. Common causes of aviation accidents included fatigue (Caldwell, 2002; Goode, 2003), elevated occupational stress levels (Tucker et al., 2009; Lee & Liu, 2003), and increased age (Mills, 2005). In this study, age, license type, anxiety level, and number of flight hours were investigated for their ability to predict occupational stress levels in professional pilots.
Fatality Rate per 100,000 Employees in 2007
Fatalities per 100,000 employees

100 80 60 40 20 0


Aircraft Pilots


Law Enforcement

Figure x. Among selected occupations in 2007, professional fishing was the most dangerous occupation, professional logging was the next most dangerous occupation, and professional aviation was the most dangerous occupation after logging.

All Occupations

In order to further examine occupational stress in professional pilots using the scientific method, specific research questions related to the predictor variables were formulated. RQ1: Is pilot age a significant predictor of occupational stress levels (JS-X) in professional pilots? RQ2: Is self-reported anxiety (MAQTS) a significant predictor of JSX in professional pilots? RQ3: Is the number of flight hours (FLIGHTHRS) a significant predictor of JS-X in professional pilots? RQ4: Is pilot license type (LICTYPE) a significant predictor of JS-X in professional pilots?


P-E fit has been a cornerstone for intellectual developments that have focused on reducing occupational stress in recent years. The concept of P-E fit is related to job compatibility, occupational stress level, and can vary based on individual coping skills and other factors (Yu, 2009). The ability to cope has several effects, Yu said. One of those effects is that individuals who cope well seek to reduce job stress by making changes to their job. Another effect is that individuals change the way that they think about their job environment. Career stage as a factor of P-E fit was also discussed by Yu, who said that as workers gain experience on the job, their knowledge of the work environment becomes expanded., reducing occupational stress levels.

Another theoretical concept that is pertinent to the discussion of occupational stress is the demand control model (Wong, DeSanctis, & Staudenmayer, 2007). According the demand control model, when an individual worker has many demands placed on them, yet has little control over those demands, occupational stress often results.

Anxiety Level: A measure of anxiety, a concept closely related to worry (Reynolds, 1999). In this study, the MAQ will be used to measure anxiety level (Reynolds). The MAQ is a self-report measure that is handscored after administration. The resulting total score has a possible range of 40 to 160. In this study, anxiety levels will be tabulated in a manner in which the higher the total score, the higher the anxiety level. Occupational stress: An effect that occurs because of physical and psychological job demands. This effect can be greater when there is a dissonance between the requirements of the job and the abilities of the employee (Cincotta, 2005; Spielberger & Vagg, 1999). Occupational stress can result from increased frequency and severity of several factors including increased job pressure and increased job stress, and from reduced organizational support. In this study, occupational stress will be measured using the JSS (Spielberger & Vagg). The JSS has a total score that can range from 0 to 81.


This study was a non-experimental survey design evaluating the relative strength of age, flight hours, license type, and anxiety levels on occupational stress levels in pilots to attempt to evaluate the extent to which it might be enervative to them and fill the gap in the literature. Several assumptions and limitations were present. All of the facts that were uncovered during the literature review were assumed to be true, but were not actually verified. The first assumption was that the participants answered the questions on the survey honestly. Other assumptions of this study were that the participant group was healthy, both physically and psychologically, and that the participants had current medical certificates as a requirement of holding an FAA (2009) license. To ensure that each participant was a license holder, each was asked to identify their license type or to select a box marked none.


The study filled the gap in the literature related to the quantification of occupational stress levels in professional pilots. A statistical analysis of variations in occupational stress levels between pilots of different license types was conducted. By examining the effect of license type, flight hours, anxiety level, and age on job stress levels, new quantitative evidence became available to researchers. Positive social change and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are terms that describe efforts that are initiated by employees within organizations with the goal of promoting better living for the stakeholders (Aguilera, Rupp, Williams, & Ganapathi, 2007; Phillips, 2006). The promotion of positive social change and CSR can result from this study. In addition to providing new information for scientists, researchers, and lawmakers, the results from this study could be used to examine and shape the workplace conditions of professional pilots.


Occupational stress has been the growing focus of academic interest over the past 40 years (Spielberger & Vagg, 1999). The literature review of the subject revealed that many articles were available on the topic. Like other workplace influences, occupational stress can contribute to performance levels on the job (McGowan, Gardner, & Fletcher, 2006). A discussion of occupational stress and several of the factors that had been found to have an influence on its levels will be conducted during this presentation. Regehr, LeBlanc, Jelley, and Barath (2008) suggested that elevated stress levels and performance levels were negatively correlated. Those authors also indicated that the negative relationship between performance and stress was the product of an individual's self-study of coping mechanisms at the time when a stressor was introduced. That is, when individuals believed that their lives were in danger and when anxious feelings were present they had high stress levels.


Occupational stress is a chronic work related condition that results from a combination of work stressors, lack of organizational support, and individual differences (Bellman, Forster, Still, & Cooper, 2003; Spielberger & Vagg, 1999). Occupational stress levels can vary and have been shown to affect safety, productivity, and individual health (Caldwell, 2002; Goode, 2003; Lee & Liu, 2003; Mills, 2005). One measure of occupational stress, Spielberger and Vaggs (1999) JSS, is frequently referenced in this presentation. It was chosen, after careful consideration, to measure the dependent variable in this research. A literature review revealed that the JSS has been used by more than a dozen researchers to quantify the presence of two factors of job stress: job pressure and organizational support (Berger, 2006; Damrongsak, 2008; Jamison-Howse, 2008; Oxley, 2006).


Person-Environment Fit P-E fit is a concept that itself is almost a century old (Kristof-Brown, Zimmerman, & Johnson, 2005; Yang, et al., 2008). It was originally developed by John L. Holland in 1959 (Gottfredson, 2009), and included a discussion of vocational types. The P-E fit theory was based on the concept that the person must have the capabilities to perform satisfactorily in any given job. Career stage may have an effect on occupational stress levels, and is related to P-E fit. The effect of career stage on occupational stress level will be indirectly assessed by examining the relationship between license type and job stress survey index score (JS-X) in this study. The relationship between career stage and occupational stress levels was examined by Yu (2009), who said that a relationship to P-E fit is also present, because newer employees have a less defined concept of their role in the organization.


The employee's overall impression of the workplace is related to their fit in the company and with their workspace, and thus is related to their individual perspective of the job (Resick, Baltes, & Shantz, 2007). In order for a positive P-E fit to occur, harmony must exist between the organization and the employee, and the employee and their workspace. The Demand-Control Model Control is another aspect of job satisfaction, and control is needed to reduce the effects of occupational stress (Meier, Semmer, Elfering, & Jacobshagen, 2008). Control needs are regulated by individual personality, and are related to individual internal coping skills. Meier et al. (2008) linked the demand-control model to P-E fit by saying that those who had low control needs would be best suited to working in jobs where low control situations were presented to them. In cases where the needs were opposite of the conditions, the job would seem stressful to the employee.


It was determined that an investigation into occupational stress should begin with a discussion of the sources of pressure to employees and the individual differences of the employees (Bellman et al., 2003). Also, a method of observing stress that is based on factors that are related to the particular job being studied should be discussed. Of the individual factors that can interact with work pressures, personality traits, individual patience levels, individual need for control, amount of personal influence, problem focus, ability to balance work with other aspects of life, and amount of social support should be included when applicable (Bellman et al., 2003; Leitner & Resch, 2005; Parmar, 2001). In the case of this study, it was noted that anxiety levels could be related to the perception of occupational stress in pilots, and an anxiety measure was included as a part of the study (Williams & Cooper, 1998).


According to Cooper, Sloan, and Williams (1988), Osipow (1998), and Spielberger and Vagg (1999), occupational stress is measureable. Furthermore, the signs and symptoms of occupational stress are identifiable (Holmstrm, Molander, Jansson, and Barnekow-Bergqvist, 2008; Spielberger & Vagg, 1999). Spielberger and Vagg (1999) indicated that occupational stress is the type of stress that occurs in the employer-employee and employee-workplace relationship, and that it can be evaluated using self-reports gathered from those who are being assessed. They also noted that family life, health factors, and personality types could all have an effect on occupational stress levels, but only the employee-employer and employee-workplace related stressors should be considered when discussing occupational stress levels. The assessment of the relationship between occupational stress and predictive variables was the subject of this study, and one of the goals was to determine how much influence was accounted for by the variables that were included in this study.


The JSS was recently used in several studies where occupational stress was a variable of interest (Damrongsak, 2008; Jamison-Howse, 2008; Salmond & Ropis, 2005). Damrongsak used the JSS to quantify occupational stress levels in firefighters and to evaluate the correlation between back pain and occupational stress levels in that group. Damrongsak (2008) studied firefighters (N = 298) who worked in Alabama, and chose the JSS because it was specifically designed to assess one of her subject variables, occupational stress. The occupational stress score the Damrongsak reported can be used to compare the stress of being a fire fighter (M = 15.91, SD = 13.68) to the results from this study (N = 55) of professional pilots (M = 21.62, SD = 12.95).


Occupational stress level was chosen as a criterion variable in this study. Predictor variables including age, flight hours, license type, and anxiety levels were chosen because each variable was expected to be present in the participant group and because their relationship to the criterion variable had not been previously studied. Other predictors of occupational stress were identified during the literature review, and included biochemical laboratory markers (De Luca, Deeva, Mariani, Maiani, Stancato, & Korkina, 2009). Due to study design limitations, only predictors that could be examined using selfreport methods were included in this study. Age

Age is one of the predictor variables used in this study, and of particular interest was how career stages and maturity relate to occupational stress levels in the study group. Some research on the relationship between age and occupational stress led to the conclusion that older persons were able to multitask well (Ng & Feldman, 2008).


Ng and Feldman (2008) examined 10 functions of job performance and said that much of the data on that topic suggested that older workers were more safety minded, missed fewer work days, and were less aggressive towards others than younger workers. After analyzing the results of their meta-analysis, Ng and Feldman said that overall, older workers could be thought of as having many desirable workplace skills that could increase workplace productivity. How age related to occupational stress levels in employees was not explored by Ng and Feldman. OHare and Wiggins (2004) found that many types of experiences, both individual and of others, could be used to form on-the-spot decisions. Age was a beneficial aspect in professional pilot because a greater number of experiences led to positive outcomes during critical moments in the cockpit. OHare and Wiggins (2004) noted that professional aviation is a good place to learn about human factors because of the way that accidents are often formally reviewed and reported on by professionals.


Hardy, Satz, D'Elia, and Uchiyama (2007) examined the effects of age on cognition levels in aviators, a factor that is related to P-E fit. The performance characteristics of pilots in this group were the product of a wide range of variables like individual intellectual ability, common stressors, personality, and age. Hardy et al. said that pilots in the United States are older than they were in previous years, increasing the need for studies of performance and age. In their study, age and performance were found to be negative and linear in all of the conditions (Hardy et al., 2007). Hardy et al. (2007) also revealed that age 40 was the approximate age where some decline in performance was discovered in their study. They also revealed that one possible explanation for that decline was that cardiovascular problems tended to begin to surface in individuals who are over 40 years of age. They said that regular exercise might help to reduce the effects of aging and to increase P-E fit.


Aeronautical Experience A literature search revealed that aeronautical experience had recently been studied (Mills, 2005). It was reported that increased aeronautical experience was not related to higher than normal accident rates (Mills, 2005). Since it was hypothesized that increased aeronautical experience would be related to increased cockpit responsibility and occupational stress levels, Mills findings were somewhat surprising unless higher occupational stress levels do not contribute to higher than normal accident rates. Thomson, Onkal, Avcioglu, and Goodwin (2004) also examined how aeronautical experience affected pilot performance and found that with increased aeronautical experience, perceptions of what might go wrong while flying differed, which also could affect occupational stress levels.


Anxiety Level Many aspects of anxiety and occupational stress in professional pilots have not been studied, though studies that examined anxiety levels in non-pilots were uncovered in the literature review (Griffin, Griener, Stansfield, & Marmot, 2007; Miller, 2007). A review of those studies was discussed in this section, along with a discussion of the study-related hypotheses that developed from that literature. According to Reynolds (1999), studying anxiety levels is useful for several reasons. One of those reasons was to identify impairment, such as the kind that might be related to occupational stress resulting from state or trait anxiety. Several different types of anxiety were identified in the literature, including state and trait types.


License Type Seniority level is being conceptualized in this study as being related to license type. In professional airlines, seniority may be a multifactor concept consisting of aeronautical experience, age, license type, annual performance scores, and years of work with the same organization, just to name a few. In this study, license type alone was used to compare the seniority levels of the potential participants. Only participants with either a commercial or an airline transport license were eligible to participate. Also, participants with airline transport pilot licenses were considered senior to participants with commercial pilot licenses in this study because of the more stringent requirements for that license type.


This study was a non-experimental survey design used to fill the gap in the literature and to determine the relative strength of age, flight hours, license type, and anxiety levels in predicting occupational stress levels in pilots. It incorporated concepts most similar to research using survey and subject variables that were not manipulated during the study. Survey research with subject variables in a field setting consists of making observations of work environments without actively manipulating variables in that environment and can be used to answer organizational psychology questions such as: What is the average stress level of employees of a given age? Two measures, the JSS and the MAQ, were used because they were able to be completed in less than 20 minutes by the participants, and had an established history of use in scientific studies was present in scholarly journal articles.


Instrumentation This study was conducted using a consent form, a demographics questionnaire, the JSS, and the MAQ. The estimated time to read the demographics questionnaire and complete all three forms was 20 minutes. A full response yielded 123 variable items when the individual questions, sub-scores, and total scores were included. Demographics Questionnaire A brief four question demographic instrument was used to assess information regarding the participants age, flight hours, FAA license type held, and if flying was the primary occupation of each participant. If the demographics questionnaire was not returned or returned without being completed, than the entire response was excluded from the study.


Multidimensional Anxiety Questionnaire The MAQ is a 40 question self-report instrument that is hand-scored after administration (Reynolds, 1999). The resulting total score has a possible range of 40 to 160 using a pathological scale. In this study, anxiety levels will be tabulated in a manner in which the higher the total score, the higher the anxiety level. Job Stress Survey The JSS, a 60 question instrument, was developed to help researchers examine general sources of occupational stress (Spielberger & Vagg, 1999). Research into occupational stress was more common during the several years before the JSS was developed than it was a decade prior to its development. Several researchers recently used the JSS to measure occupational stress in a variety of populations and generated occupational specific data regarding workplace stress (Damrongsak, 2008; Jamison-Howse, 2008; Rahimi, 2008).

Institutional review board approval was obtained (05-10-100293017) prior to conducting this study . A careful analysis of this study and its potential effects on the participants was conducted prior to collecting any data. The researcher ensured that the informed consent form was written in plain language and distributed to each potential participant. A thorough discussion of the procedures for participation in the study, any confidentiality issues, the voluntary nature of the study, the risks and benefits of participating in the study, and a way to contact the researcher and his advisor with individual questions regarding the study were presented to each of the potential participants.

Outliers To evaluate the presence of outliers in the data set, a descriptive analysis of the z-scores was conducted. The mean age of the participants was 44 years old (SD = 11), median 44, and mode 47. The mean FLIGHTHRS was 8,130 (SD = 5,745), median 6793, and mode 5000. The mean MAQTS was 61.30 (SD = 9.72), median 62, and mode 60. The mean JS-X score for the participants was 21.62 (SD = 12.95), median 20.9, and smallest mode 8.77. Pertinent aspects of the collected data are displayed in Table 1. Positive skewedness was present in the z-scores for the variable JSX. The largest z-score was 3.52, indicating that a non-standard distribution of occupational stress scores was present in this study.

Figures 3 & 4. Outlier evaluation prior to and after the removal of a single case.

Many of the participants (38.2%) were between the ages of 41 and 50 years old and logged between 3501 and 7500 flight hours (32.7%). The majority of the participants had airline transport pilot licenses (72.7%).

Hypotheses Testing and Results

Findings related to the hypotheses discussed in previous chapters are presented in the next several paragraphs. The model summary revealed that the four criterion variables included in this study were better at predicting occupational stress in professional pilots than chance alone, F (4, 50) = 4.34, p = .004. In cases where the predictor variables did not meet the assumptions for multiple regression, Kendalls Tau and the Mann-Whitney tests were conducted to assess the relationships with the criterion variables and are described in this chapter.

Conclusions Related to RQ1 RQ1: Is pilot age a significant predictor of occupational stress in professional pilots? Pilot age was a significant predictor of occupational stress in this study (see Tables 6 & 7). It was determined that for each unit increase in age, a reduction in JS-X of -.39 raw score units could be expected to occur (see Table 7). Pilots who were older reported significantly less occupational stress than younger pilots did.

Figure 5. A significant negative linear relationship between JS-X and age was detected, leading to the conclusion that as professional pilots aged, their stress levels were lower.

Conclusions RQ2 RQ2: Is self-reported anxiety a significant predictor of occupational stress in professional pilots? Self-reported anxiety was not a significant predictor of occupational stress in professional pilots in this study, though a significant positive relationship was uncovered after conducting a regression analysis and one-tailed non-parametric test of significance, meaning that anxiety could not be used to reliably predict occupational stress. The pilots who participated in this study that had lower anxiety scores also had lower occupational stress scores.

Figure 6. The relationship between JS-X and MAQTS was positive and significant when assessed using a non-parametric test, which revealed that higher occupational stress levels were associated with higher anxiety levels.

RQ3 RQ3: Is the number of flight hours a significant predictor of occupational stress in professional pilots? The number of flight hours was not a significant predictor of occupational stress in professional pilots in this study. A non-significant negative relationship between flight hours and occupational stress levels was discovered during this study, which means that the occupational stress score could not be reliably predicted from number of flight hours.

Figure 7. A non-significant negative relationship between JS-X and FLIGHTHRS was present , leading to the conclusion that a significant negative relationship would be present in a larger study.

RQ4 RQ4: Is pilot license type a significant predictor of occupational stress in professional pilots? Pilot license type was not a significant predictor of occupational stress in this study. A non-significant positive relationship between the two variables was present, meaning that pilot license type could not be used to predict occupational stress. Airline transport pilots did have higher occupational stress scores than commercial pilots did.

Figure 8. The relationship between JS-X and LICTYPE was non-significant and positive; airline transport pilots that participated in this study had higher occupational stress scores than commercial pilots that participated in this study did.

A review of the regression model summary for the regression equation revealed that over half (50.8%) of the variation in JS-X was accounted for by age, FLIGHTHRS, LICTYPE, and MAQTS. Further review of the adjusted R2 value revealed that the predictor variables in this study accounted for 19.8 % of the variation in the JS-X. Based on those results, cross validity in this study is a possible limitation, most likely because of the relatively small sample size. No explanations for the overall factors that could be useful in predicting JS-X in professional pilots were discovered in the literature prior to conducting this study. It was noted that a substantial percent of factors not included in the regression model for this study influenced occupational stress in professional pilots and that other factors should be considered for future studies.


The regression model for this study was significantly better at predicting JS-X than chance alone, F (4, 50) = 4.34, p = .004. It was also noted that the regression model parameters helped to demonstrate that for each unit increase in unit of age, a reduction in JS-X of -.41 raw score units could be expected to occur. Age was the best predictor of JS-X in this model, and all of the assumptions for regression analysis were met for this predictor. Age was the only study variable that was a significant predictor of JS-X, t (1, 53) = -3.34, p = .002 (see Table 7), and in the participants of this study, occupational stress levels were lower with older age.


It was determined that occupational stress levels in professional pilots can be reliably and validly assessed using existing measures, and that descriptive and inferential statistics can be used to explain the relative strength of the influence that age, flight hours, anxiety levels, and license type have on occupational stress levels in professional pilots . It was determined that over half of the variation in occupational stress levels in the participants of this study could be accounted for by the aforementioned predictor variables. Age had the strongest influence on occupational stress levels in professional pilots, and when the other study variables were held constant, it could be used to predict those levels with better-than-chance accuracy, t (1, 53) = -3.34, p = .002.


This study filled a gap in the literature. It also demonstrated that a predictable relationship between young age and high occupational stress levels was present in the participants of this study. Other, less significant relationships were uncovered, too. The connection between high occupational stress levels and safe performance levels was revealed (McGowan, et al., 2006; Ongori & Angolla, 2008). Because one of the goals of this study was to provide a reasonable approach to reducing the higher than a higher-than-average fatality rate (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2008; Shappell, et al., 2007; Weibel & Hansman, 2009) while recognizing limitations to changing existing management systems, the concept of providing internal and external resources for assessing occupational stress in professional pilots was conceived.


Because the evidence collected revealed that higher stress levels are present in younger pilots and other studies have connected higher stress and risks for accidents (Caldwell, 2002; Goode, 2003, Hendrickson, 2009; Lee & Liu, 2003; Mills, 2005; Mohler, 1999), public legislators and corporate stakeholders are advised to provide education, training, and counseling to younger individuals proactively to reduce the risk of accidents. Based on the determination that higher occupational stress levels were present in younger pilots, it was determined that information gathered from an annual national aviation stress assessment can be used for a variety of purposes in private and public settings (e.g. for gathering average annual stress data). The use of information gathered from such an assessment might be used longitudinally, to evaluate changes from one year to the next, or cross-culturally to evaluate the relatedness of trends occurring in other countries where aviation is an occupation with a higher than average fatality rate. In times when aviation occupational stress is lower than average as measured by the national aviation stress assessment, then a biennial survey is recommended.

The P-E fit theory was used to develop this study, and it was noted that occupational stress and anxiety levels were stable characteristics that were related to the theory, and that they would be present in varying levels in any population assessed, including professional pilots. Occupational stress is present in professional aviation, and it can be reliably measured with existing instruments, such as the one used in this study by private corporations whose stockholders are concerned with CSR, and by members of public agencies who are interested in changing the dangerous trend of high fatalities in professional aviation. It is now known that age can be used to reliably estimate the occupational stress levels of professional pilots with better-than-chance odds, and that the number of flight hours accrued and license type are not reliable predictors of occupational stress levels. Anxiety level is significantly related to occupational stress levels, but it cannot be used to predict occupational stress levels accurately without conducting further studies with a larger sample size. The small sample size (N = 55) may have prevented anxiety levels, flight hours, and license type, from being significant predictors of occupational stress levels.

CSR and social change are related to the findings from this research in various ways. First, private companies that have executives employed who recognize that profit is a motivating force for their business may examine the findings from this research and realize that by ignoring evidence that age can significantly predict occupational stress levels in their pilots, they are taking a chance on higher disability claims and health insurance premiums as a result of being unable to ascertain with certainty the stress levels of their employees (Caldwell, Herold, & Fedor; 2004). The findings from this study can be used to further guide the decision makers in organizations to explain the need for change, as Caldwell et al. (2004) indicated that by doing so, change resistance, a barrier to success, would be eliminated. Examples of change may be the creation of policies to hire both younger and older pilots, or to balance pilot scheduling to include pilots that are both younger and older.

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