Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) operators’ accuracy and confidence of decisions: Professional pilots or video game players?

Jacqueline M. Wheatcroft, Mike Jump, Amy L. Breckell, Jade Adams-White

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Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) operations have outpaced current training regimes resulting in a shortage of qualified UAS pilots. Three potential UAS operator groups were explored for suitability (i.e. video game players [VGP]; private pilots; professional pilots) and examined to assess levels of accuracy, confidence and confidence-accuracy judgements (W-S C-A) during a simulated civilian cargo flight. Sixty participants made 21 decision tasks, which varied across three levels of danger/risk. Scales of Tolerance of Ambiguity, Decision Style and NEO-PIR were also completed. Professional pilots and VGPs exhibited the highest level of decision confidence, with VGPs maintaining a constant and positive W-S C-A relationship across decision danger/risk. As decision danger/risk increased, confidence, accuracy and W-S C-A decreased. Decision danger also had a role to play in the confidence expressed when choosing to intervene or rely on automation. Neuroticism was negatively related, and conscientiousness positively related, to confidence. Intolerance of ambiguity was negatively related to W-S C-A. All groups showed higher levels of decision confidence in decisions controlled by the UAS in comparison to decisions where the operator manually intervened. VGPs display less overconfidence in decision judgements. Findings support the idea that VGPs could be considered a resource in UAS operation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1327628
Number of pages23
JournalCogent Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date7 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2017


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