Expertise and age differences in pilot decision making

Daniel G. Morrow, Lisa M.Soederberg Miller, Heather E. Ridolfo, Clifford Magnor, Ute M. Fischer, Nina K. Kokayeff, Elizabeth A.L. Stine-Morrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined the influence of age and expertise on pilot decision making. Older and younger expert and novice pilots read at their own pace scenarios describing simpler or more complex flight situations. Then in a standard interview they discussed the scenario problem and how they would respond. Protocols were coded for identification of problem and solutions to this problem, and frequency of elaborations on problem and solution. Scenario comprehension was measured as differential reading time allocation to problem-critical information and scenario memory by the accuracy of answering questions about the scenarios after the interview. All groups accurately identified the problems, but experts elaborated problem descriptions more than novices did. Experts also spent more time reading critical information in the complex scenarios, which may reflect time needed to develop elaborate situation models of the problems. Expertise comprehension benefits were similar for older and younger pilots. Older experts were especially likely to elaborate the problem compared to younger experts, while older novices were less likely to elaborate the problem and to identify appropriate solutions compared to their younger counterparts. The findings suggest age invariance in knowledge-based comprehension relevant to pilot decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-55
Number of pages23
JournalAging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • Aging
  • Aviation
  • Comprehension
  • Decision making
  • Expertise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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