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What is on your mind? Using the perceptual cycle model and critical decision method to understand the decision-making process in the cockpit

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Aeronautical decision-making is complex as there is not always a clear coupling between the decision made and decision outcome. As such, there is a call for process-orientated decision research in order to understand why a decision made sense at the time it was made. Schema theory explains how we interact with the world using stored mental representations and forms an integral part of the perceptual cycle model (PCM); proposed here as a way to understand the decision-making process. This paper qualitatively analyses data from the critical decision method (CDM) based on the principles of the PCM. It is demonstrated that the approach can be used to understand a decision-making process and highlights how influential schemata can be at informing decision-making. The reliability of this approach is established, the general applicability is discussed and directions for future work are considered.

Practitioner Summary: This paper introduces the PCM, and the associated schema theory, as a framework to structure and explain data collected from the CDM. The reliability of both the method and coding scheme is addressed.
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Keywords: aeronautical decision-making; critical decision method; perceptual cycle model; schema theory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Transportation Research Group, Faculty of Engineering and Environment, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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