Five Factor Model Personality Profiles of University of North Dakota Unmanned Aircraft Systems Students


Efforts to quantify personality characteristics in the pilots of manned aircraft extend back for decades. For individuals interested in piloting Unmanned Aircraft, similar analysis of normative personality characteristics remains relatively unexplored. This research examined the Five Factor Model (FFM) personality profiles of individuals pursuing Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) studies at the University of North Dakota (UND). Using the Big Five Inventory (BFI) general personality index, the responses of a UAS Student sample (n=65) were compared to a Normative sample (n=248) previously collected by Petros (2013). The sample group, comprised of students with either Pre UAS Operations or UAS Operations declared as a first or second major, scored significantly lower in neuroticism (N) (p<0.001), significantly higher in openness (O) (p<0.01), and significantly higher in conscientiousness (C) (p<0.001) than individuals in the Normative sample. Based on these differences and previous work regarding the personality characteristics of manned aviators, one might hypothesize that relative to their manned counterparts, those students pursuing careers in UAS are similar in their neurotic, interpersonal, and achievement-oriented tendencies, but are distinguishable by their tendency toward introversion and openness to experience. Recommendations for future research encourage application of the Revised NEO Personality Inventory for assessment of facet traits within the FFM domains, and the exploration of these personality traits as they appear within individuals who have completed training for the operation of UAS platforms. The University of North Dakota (UND) offers a wide range of degree programs for manned aircraft, and since 2009 the nation’s first major in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Operations. Undergraduate students may specialize in majors of commercial aviation, flight education, Air Traffic Control (ATC), aviation management, or UAS Operations for a variety of reasons. As significant investments of time and money are asked of these students in the completion of their degrees, one wonders whether an in depth understanding of their characteristics could enable better academic and career advising for these student pilots.

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