‘A’ of attitude is NOT ‘B’ of behaviour in Competency Based Training

Att vs Behaviour

Competency based training under which Evidence Based Training is spreading its web has a conceptual shortcoming. ICAO Doc 9868 defines competency as a combination of skills, knowledge and attitudes required to perform a task to the prescribed standard.

While attitude has not been defined in either ICAO or IATA documents, both have the behavioural indicators as a measure of the performance standard. Behaviour and attitude are not the same and the incorrect indicator is being used to populate the database and give feed back.

The reason attitude has been studied intensely is that it was believed to be the key to understanding why people do what they do (and predict what they will do). It’s a cornerstone of social psychology.

The question that arises is ” Is behaviour an indicator of attitude, if not then what is the difference between the two?”.


Behaviour is defined as the way a person responds, either overtly or covertly, to a specific set of conditions, which is capable of being measured. 

Behavioral indicator is an overt action performed or statement made by any flight crew member that indicates how the crew is handling the event. 

What are Gagne’s Conditions of Learning?

Robert Gagne puts forward the notion of conditions of learning, as opposed to a theory about learning per se (Quinn, 2000). He defines learning as an alteration in an individual’s capabilities or disposition which continues over a period of time that cannot be put down to the natural process of maturation (Gagne, 1985).

In addition, he regards learning as the means through which individuals and groups of people acquire the skills that are necessary for them to be accepted members of society. Furthermore, Gagne believes that learning is a direct result of different human capabilities (behaviours) which are required as a result of stimulation from both the environment and the thinking processes which happen within individual learners.

The foundations of Gagne’s work lie in the concept of Behaviourism, based on the notion that through analysing observed behaviours, the necessary components to acquire a specific skill could be identified.

According to Gagne, Briggs and Wager (1992), it is important to group learning goals according to their intended outcomes. This involves deciding, during the course of planning, what is meant to be learnt and what the learner should be able to do at the end of a specific session.

Once these instructional goals have been placed into different categories of learning outcome, appropriate, systematic planning can take place, allowing practitioners to design activities to create specific conditions which will allow learners to access skills, knowledge and attitudes.

Attitude defined

In his classic book, The Conditions of Learning, Robert Gagne, defines attitude as “a mental state that predisposes a learner to choose to behave in a certain way.” Some think that attitudes are comprised of affect, behavior and beliefs.

Under the ABC model, attitude is composed of three parts: cognitive, affective, and conative(behaviour). It’s also referred to as affect, behavior, and cognition (hence ABC).

A person’s attitude can be positive, negative or neutral views, which shows one’s likes and dislikes for someone or something. So, the type of attitude we carry, speaks a lot about us, as we get into that mood and transmits a message to the people around us. There is no such thing like ideal attitude, for a particular situation as it is spontaneous and so we always have a choice to opt the right attitude for us.

Tripartite model of attitude

Definition of Behavior

The term ‘behavior’ can be described as the way of conducting oneself. It is the manner of acting or controlling oneself towards other people. It is the range of actions, responses, and mannerisms set by an individual, system or organization in association with themselves or their environment, in any circumstances.

In short, behavior is an individual or group reaction to inputs such as an action, environment or stimulus which can be internal or external, voluntary or involuntary, conscious or subconscious.

Key Differences Between Attitude and Behavior

The difference between attitude and behavior can be drawn clearly on the following grounds:

  1. Attitude is defined as a person’s mental tendency, which is responsible for the way he thinks or feels for someone or something. Behavior implies the actions, moves, conduct or functions or an individual or group towards other persons.
  2. A person’s attitude is mainly based on the experiences gained by him during the course of his life and observations. On the other hand, the behavior of a person relies on the situation.
  3. Attitude is a person’s inner thoughts and feelings. As opposed to, behavior expresses a person’s attitude.
  4. The way of thinking or feeling is reflected by a person’s attitude. On the contrary, a person’s conduct is reflected by his behavior.
  5.  Attitude is defined by the way we perceive things whereas behavior is ruled by social norms.
  6. Attitude is a human trait but behavior is an inborn attribute.
A composite model of the attitude-behavior relationship (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993).

Attitude measurement

One reason attitudes may be studied so rarely is the difficulty many have in clearly identifying how attitudes should be measured. The characteristics of attitude contribute to this perception of difficulty, as does the recent move away from quantitative research procedures. 

Since attitudes are defined as latent, and not observable in themselves, the trainer must identify some action that would seem to be representative of the attitude in question so that this behavior might be measured as an index of the attitude. This characteristic of attitude measurement is justifiably one of the most criticized of this area of educational evaluation. However, there are several generally recognized procedures used to determine quantitatively an individual’s, or group’s, attitude toward some object or person.

Categories of Attitude Measurement Techniques

There are four widely used and accepted categories, or approaches, for collecting attitude information. These approaches are:

  • Self-reports, where the members of a group report directly about their own attitudes. Self-reports include all procedures by which a person is asked to report on his or her own attitudes. This information can be provided orally through the use of interviews, surveys, or polls, or in written form through questionnaires, rating scales, logs, journals, or diaries. Self-reports represent the most direct type of attitude assessment and should be employed, unless the people who are being investigated are unable or unwilling to provide the necessary information. Questions like “How do you feel about XT’ where X is the attitude construct under investigation are often asked in self-reports.
  • Reports of others, where others report about the attitudes of a person or group. When the people whose attitudes are being investigated are unable or unlikely to provide accurate information, others can be questioned using interviews, questionnaires, logs, journals, reports, or observation techniques. Parents of children can be asked how their children feel about X, where X is the attitude construct under investigation.
  • Sociometric procedures, where members of a group report about their attitudes toward one another. Sociometrics are used when the researcher desires a picture of the patterns within a group. Members of groups can be asked questions like “Who in your group fits the description of XT’ where X is the attitude position being studied.
  • Records, which are systematic accounts of regular occurrences, such as attendance reports, sign-in sheets, library checkout records, and inventories. Records are very helpful when they contain information relevant to the attitude area in question. For example, when a researcher is trying to determine if a schoolwide program to develop a higher level of school pride is working, the school’s maintenance records might give an index of the program’s effectiveness. If school pride is improving, then vandalism should decline, and maintenance costs should be lower. The amount of trash picked up from the school’s floors might yield relevant information, too. Students who have ‘school pride are less likely to throw trash on the floor.

Within each of these categories, there are strategies for measuring attitude-related behaviors. Most commonly, attitude measurement is accomplished by one of the following techniques:

  • Questionares and rating scales
  • Ineriviews
  • Written reports
  • Observation

mindFly analysis

Attitude is the driving force behind an action or inaction. Behaviour is an outcome of the experience and can vary depending upon the circumstance. It takes a lot of time and effort to measure and document attitude therefore concepts like Competency based training with MPL and EBT taking the easy way out and they measure the behaviour.

Behaviour is not the true reflection or measurement of attitude but a shortcut methodology which has a high possibility of being inaccurate. The ICAO and IATA documents are not complete in themselves when they define competency in terms of attitude but fail to address attitude neither in definition nor in co-relation with behaviour.

Since the measured indicator is not accurate and consistent, the data fed into the system is inaccurate. This results in corruption of database and a false perception of achievement giving inaccurate feedback.

About Capt. Amit Singh

I think therefore I am https://www.linkedin.com/in/traintofly/ Airlines Operations and Safety balance expert. A former head of operations/training and safety of successful LCC's in India. An experienced member of the startup teams of these airlines has hands-on experience in establishing airlines systems and processes.

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