Any discussion of decision making in an aviation context must include the findings of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Through their systematic investigations, they discovered that humans possess two systems for allowing them to make decisions. System 1 is the one we inherited from our animal ancestors and allows us to make rapid, approximate decisions without expending too much effort. There are a variety of cognitive short cuts that we use to help make these decisions (heuristics and biases) and, unfortunately, they are prone to error. This is particularly true in environments within which System 1 didn’t have to work when it was evolving e.g. the flight deck of an aircraft. System 2 is the slower, cognitively taxing system that requires a lot more effort but is more likely to come up with the correct decision. System 1 is always running and we need to find ways of decreasing workload so that we can use System 2 to confirm or correct the output from system 1. For more information, Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow is an excellent place to start. For more information on how these psychological phenomena impact on aviation, Key Dismuke’s book The Limits of Expertise contains a wealth of fascinating material.


EXERCISE: Hospital-Waiting-List-2016 This exercise is designed to elicit team decision-making behaviours in a classroom environment in order to demonstrate common flaws and successful strategies. A big thank you to Sarah Skelton of Plane Training for creating and donating this exercise.