Aviation Psychology

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Aviation Psychology


a branch of psychology that investigates the psychological problems of flying. The findings of aviation psychology are used for increasing the efficiency and safety of work in aviation as well as for improving the selection of applicants for specialized occupations in aviation.

Aviation psychology originated at the beginning of this century in connection with the development of aviation medicine and work psychology; the highly specific nature of the mental processes during flying led to the development of aviation psychology as an independent discipline. This specificity lies primarily in the fact that man’s separation from the earth leads to a drastic change in the structure of spatial orientation and to the appearance of considerable mental stress; the distinctive environmental effects—accelerations, drops in barometric pressure, changes in atmospheric composition, and so forth—can have a substantial effect on the central nervous system; the high speeds of flight and the possibility of emergencies require uninterrupted concentration as well as rapid decisions and actions.

The intensive development of aviation psychology in the USSR began in 1921 with the work of S. E. Mints and N. M. Dobrotvorskii and, later, K. K. Platonov. At present, research in aviation psychology develops within the broader framework of engineering psychology.

Since the second half of this century, the main trends in aviation psychology have focused on the study of the effect of flight factors on mental functions and the development of recommendations for the prevention of unfavorable influences; the study of piloting for the purpose of maximum adaptation of technology to human mental capacities; identification of the psychological causes and preconditions of aircraft accidents and the development of measures for their prevention; the study of the mental qualities conducive to the successful performance of flying tasks, for the purposes of screening applicants for professional schools and of determining whether pilots are qualified to fly; and improvement of the training procedures for specialized occupations in aviation on the basis of a study of the psychological principles of training and character development.


Gerathewohl, S. Psikhologiia cheloveka v samolete. Moscow, 1956. (Translated from German.)
Gorbov, F. D., and F. P. Kosmolinskii. “Ot psikhologii aviatsionnoi do psikhologii kosmicheskoi.” Voprosy psikhologii, 1967, no. 6.
Platonov, K. K. Psikhologiia letnogo truda. Moscow, 1960.
Sells, S. B., and C. A. Berry. Human Factors in Jet and Space Travel: A Medical-Psychological Analysis. New York, 1961.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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