Date of Award

Spring 1983

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Committee Director

Glynn D. Coates

Committee Member

Randall L. Harris

Committee Member

Fred Freeman

Committee Member

Raymond H. Kirby


Since the work of Fitts and his colleagues, researchers have been using eye-movement data to evaluate various aspects of pilot instrument scanning behavior. Although Senders' work indicated that link values and transitional probabilities could be accurately predicted using a random sampling process, several investigators have recently suggested that pilot scanning behavior was deterministic. However, there has been no clear empirical evidence to support a deterministic hypothesis. The present research presents a new flexible model of pilot instrument scanning behavior which assumes that the pilot uses a set of deterministic scanning patterns on (1) the pilot's perception of error in the state of the aircraft, and (2) the pilot's knowledge of the interactive nature of the aircraft's systems. Statistical analyses revealed that a three-stage Markov process composed of the pilot's three predicted lookpoints, occurring 1/30, 2/30, and 3/30 of a second prior to each LP, accurately modelled the scanning behavior of 14 commercial airline pilots while flying steep turn maneuvers in a Boeing 737 flight simulator. Furthermore, the modelled scanning data for each pilot were not statistically different from the observed scanning data in comparisons of mean dwell time, entropy, and entropy rate. These findings represent the first direct evidence that pilots are using deterministic scanning patterns during instrument flight. The results are interpreted as direct support for the error-dependent model and suggestions are made for further research that could allow for identification of the specific scanning patterns suggested by the model.


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