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Flying off the handle: Affective influences on decision making and action tendencies in real-world aircraft maintenance engineering scenarios
While not as glamorous as flying, aircraft maintenance is a fundamental of aviation safety, and improper or inadequate maintenance can have far reaching consequences. With this in mind, and considering the paucity of substantive research in aircraft maintenance engineering, this study investigated how affect influenced decision making and action tendency in real-world challenging maintenance engineering scenarios in general aviation (GA). A study was undertaken combining a naturalistic decision making (NDM) technique with the Appraisal Tendency Framework (ATF) to analyze 10 different scenarios collected from aircraft maintenance engineers. A total of 11 contextual factors were elicited from which seven specific emotions emerged: anger, frustration, pride, hope, guilt, fear, and contempt. In most instances, the emotion was found to be incidental, meaning that the feelings at the time of the decision were not normatively relevant for deciding. Anger and contempt created action tendencies for risk taking, while feelings of pride were found to have a protective effect. The findings suggest that affect regulation is an inherent part of the system, such that affect dysregulation may represent a potential contributing factor for negative outcomes arising from action tendencies associated with other complex system influences. Future research directions are given. © 2019 Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.