Third-Culture Kid Pilots and Multi-Cultural Identity Effects on Pilots' Attitudes

Tzs-Kin Chan, Donald Harris

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    3 Citations (Scopus)
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    BACKGROUND: Current attempts to culturally tailor human factors training in aviation segregates cultural identities based on geopolitical, passport nationality, and is therefore poorly suited for (adult) ‘Third Culture Kids’ (TCKs) whose cross-cultural upbringing has led to the development of multicultural individual identities that do not reflect their passport nationalities. In this study, respondents’ self-categorization of personal cultural identity, as opposed to passport nationality, was used to determine whether there were cultural differences in airline pilots’ behaviors.

    METHOD: A survey with items imported from established scales was distributed to pilots of an international airline to measure pilots’ work values, flight management attitudes, and cultural dimensions, with respondents segregated into Western, TCK, or Asian cultural groups.

    RESULTS: TCKs shared similar work values with Westerners, were similarly individualistic, had comparable preference for shallow command gradients, were similarly pragmatic in self-evaluation of performance under stress, and both had lower dependency and preference for rules and procedures. TCKs scored in the middle between Westerners and Asians in automation preference attitudes, and on the cultural dimensions of power distance and uncertainty avoidance. TCKs did not share any similarities with Asians at all.

    DISCUSSION: The results show that TCKs were neither assimilated into a mainstream culture, nor culturally “middle of the pack” as may be expected from their “East meets West” backgrounds. Having identified TCK pilots’ unique values, attitudes, and dimensions, practical implications include changing training design to better suit TCKs’ cultural characteristics and the adaptation of airline management to cater for TCKs’ work values.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1026-1033
    Number of pages8
    JournalAerospace medicine and human performance
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


    • CRM
    • Flight Management Attitudes Questionnaire
    • Hofstede’s dimensions
    • diversity
    • international school


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