Coping with stress in military aviation: A review of the research.
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Campbell, J., O Connor, P. (2010) 'Coping with stress in military aviation: A review of the research' In: P. O Connor & J. Cohn(Eds.). Human Performance Enhancements in High-Risk Environments: Insights Developments, and Future Directions from Military Research. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC- Clio
Military aviation exacts a costly toll in psychological stress from those who choose to pursue the occupation (Stokes & Kite, 1994). A prime example is landing on an aircraft carrier, a task which physiological indices and subjective accounts both rate as one of the most stressful in aviation (Miller, Rubin, Clark, Crawford, & Ransom, 1970). The intense psychological pressure associated with a career in military aviation makes military aviators an ideal population for understanding individual differences in robust functioning in high stress environments. Such an understanding benefits not only those seeking to develop aviation selection and classification instruments, but also those interested in identifying important protective factors relevant to alternative military and civilian occupations in which personnel are expected to operate sophisticated systems while exposed to profound stress. Unfortunately, popular mythology and stereotypes of aviator stress coping tend to outnumber empirically based profiles of military aviators (Kern, 2006). This chapter is an attempt to provide an empirically grounded starting point for those seeking a better understanding of stress coping amongst military aviators. The chapter will try to provide a brief review of stress coping theories germane to the aviation literature. The objective of the literature review is not to synthesize the variety of approaches and theories encompassed in that literature. Instead, the intention is to provide the reader with a unique opportunity to formulate their own conclusions with respect to the emergence or absence of a theoretical paradigm for this nascent, multi-disciplinary field of study.
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