Traveller Perceptions of Trust in Air Traffic Controllers: A Cultural Comparison between India and the United States

Rian Mehta, Stephen Rice, Natasha Rao


The aim of this research is to determine passengers’ trust in air traffic controllers, based on the age and gender of the controller. The job of an air traffic controller is difficult in terms of the physical and mental stressors involved. The retirement age for controllers was instated in an effort to avoid issues relating to lack of capabilities. Decline in trust in an aging workforce has become a trend in certain areas. Similarly, gender inequality in the workplace and the sentiment that female employees are not as capable as males is an issue experienced the world over. 376 participants from India and the United States were asked to assess their level of trust in an air traffic controller during an emergency situation. The data suggested that the American participants trusted the older controller (55 years old) more than the younger counterparts (25 years old) regardless of gender. However, the Indian participants trusted the younger controllers more than the older counterparts as long as they were male. A mediation analysis found that affect mediated the relationship for the American participants but not for the Indians. This implies that the Americans were basing their trust on emotions.

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