Stress and Human Performance

By James E. Driskell; Eduardo Salas | Go to book overview
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system, and have incorporated related training materials and practical skills into their training programs. With the goal of integrating technical and team training (Advanced Qualification Program), the FAA is collaborating with airlines in developing proficiency-based requirements that will allow programs to incorporate many innovations in training curriculum, implementation, and media. Of obvious benefit will be the more efficient and focused use of simulators of various levels of fidelity. With computer-based training and new multimedia possibilities, this is an opportunity for companies to upgrade their programs in both substance and efficiency. Because companies must justify the way in which they collect evaluation data, great emphasis is placed on the qualifications of instructors and evaluators and the development of reliable and standard methods for evaluating crew performance.

Airlines have also recognized that team training offers benefits beyond the cockpit, and other organizations (maintenance, cabin crew, customer service, air traffic controllers) have initiated team training in their own domains. In addition, there is acknowledged need for greater cross-operational education both within and outside of the company, and joint training where possible. These initiatives are still young in their development, but the trend reflects more of a systems perspective. Finally, interventions related to developing new technology have been notoriously late in incorporating human factors feedback. There is some indication from designers and manufacturers that they now take the philosophy of human-centered automation seriously, and that human considerations need to be incorporated at the very beginning of the development process. Hopefully these are not empty promises.


This chapter began with a car analogy on the topic of avoiding costly and fatal problems in operating this complex piece of machinery. Although people tend to adapt to everyday stresses and strains that wear a car down, this, in the long run, destroys the car. On the other hand, paying attention to the warning signals and practicing good preventive maintenance can save the day. Along these lines, Pirsig ( 1974) described good motorcycle maintenance in the following way:

A "mechanic's feel" implies not only an understanding for the elasticity of metal but for its softness. The insides of a motorcycle contain surfaces that are precise in some cases to as little as one ten-thousandth of an inch. If you drop them or get dirt on them or scratch them or bang them with a hammer they'll lose that precision. It's important to understand that the metal behind the surfaces can normally take great shock and stress but that the surfaces themselves cannot. When handling precision parts that are stuck or difficult to manipulate, a person with mechanics's feel will avoid damaging the surfaces and work with his tools on the nonprecision surfaces of the same part whenever possible. . . . Handle precision parts gently. You'll


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