Finding the right case: The role of predictive features in memory for aviation accidents

David O'Hare*, Nadia Mullen, Mark Wiggins, Brett Molesworth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Three experiments examined the role of story structure in memory for written aviation accident reports by both pilots and nonpilots. Accident reports follow a standard format providing setting, complication, decision and outcome information. Following the 'predictive features' model, it was hypothesized that expertise would facilitate recall, and that pilots would recall most effectively with the complication feature. Pilot and nonpilot participants read and recalled 4 (Experiment 1) or 8 (Experiment 2) accident reports. With four cases, pilots recalled more than nonpilots, but no difference was found with eight cases. A primacy effect for pattern of recall was found in Experiment 1 with the setting and complication features most effective in triggering case recall. When task difficulty was increased (Experiment 2), the complication feature alone was the most effective. In Experiment 3, we manipulated text structure and found that complication and decision features were better recognized than setting or outcome features by nonpilots. The finding across three studies that the complication feature was consistently the most effective for retrieving aviation accident reports supports the 'predictive features' model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1163-1180
Number of pages18
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Finding the right case: The role of predictive features in memory for aviation accidents'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this