The influence of testimonials on decision-making of general aviation pilots
Patients often solicit the advice of friends, or receive second-hand reports of ‘friends of a friend,’ about treatments for medical conditions. These testimonials can play an influential role in a patient’s selection of a medical course of action (Sutter, 2006; Ubel, Jepson, & Baron, 2001). Similarly, pilots solicit information from various sources when making a “go or no go” decision about flying (FAA, 1991). However, one area that lacks research concerns the effect of the “pilot report” (testimonial) that a general aviation (GA) pilot may solicit at their flying club or Fixed Based Operator (FBO). This testimonial may contain information about actual weather conditions experience by pilots who have recently landed. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether pilot testimonials influence decisions to go or no-go and how this influence is moderated by the perceived quality of the testimonial. The analysis shows that testimonials had little impact on pilots’ weather decision making in most flight scenarios, and that pilots’ decisions were more strongly influenced by text and graphical weather information. In the flight scenario where the “expert” pilot gave a testimonial to no-go, findings showed that the testimonial was found to be as influential as text and graphical weather in making go or no-go decisions. In regards to the quality of the testimonial, the findings suggest the “expert” testimonial was judged as more credible; however, this did not increase the influence the ranking of the testimonial. Alternative explanations for the effects of the “testimonials” are discussed.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of Psychology