Analyzing cockpit communications: the links between language, performance, error, and workload

Hum Perf Extrem Environ. 2000 Oct;5(1):63-8. doi: 10.7771/2327-2937.1007.


The importance of communication on the flightdeck is discussed and the application of a new computer-based linguistic method of text analysis is introduced. Preliminary results from a NASA B727 simulator study indicate that specific language variables are moderately to highly correlated with individual performance, individual error rates, and individual communication ratings. Also, language use was found to vary as a function of crew position and level of workload during the flight. Use of the first person plural (we, our, us) increases over the life of a flightcrew, and Captains speak more in the first person plural than First Officers or Flight Engineers. Language use in initial flights was associated with performance and error in subsequent flights. These are preliminary data, in that this method of linguistic analysis is currently being developed and integrated with a content-coding method of communication analysis and models of threat and error.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Aviation / prevention & control
  • Accidents, Aviation / psychology*
  • Aerospace Medicine
  • Aviation*
  • Communication*
  • Decision Making
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Language*
  • Personality
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Workload*