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Metacognition, Hardiness, and Grit as Resilience Factors in Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Operations: A Simulation Study

By Gerald Matthews, April Rose Panganiban, Adrian Wells, Adrian Wells, Ryan W. Wohleber and Lauren E. Reinerman-Jones


Operators of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) face a variety of stress factors resulting from both the cognitive demands of the work and its broader social context. Dysfunctional metacognitions including those concerning worry may increase stress vulnerability, whereas personality traits including hardiness and grit may confer resilience. The present study utilized a simulation of UAS operation requiring control of multiple vehicles. Two stressors were manipulated independently in a within-subjects design: cognitive demands and negative evaluative feedback. Stress response was assessed using both subjective measures and a suite of psychophysiological sensors, including the electroencephalogram (EEG), electrocardiogram (ECG), and hemodynamic sensors. Both stress manipulations elevated subjective distress and elicited greater high-frequency activity in the EEG. However, predictors of stress response varied across the two stressors. The Anxious Thoughts Inventory (AnTI: Wells, 1994) was generally associated with higher state worry in both control and stressor conditions. It also predicted stress reactivity indexed by EEG and worry responses in the negative feedback condition. Measures of hardiness and grit were associated with somewhat different patterns of stress response. In addition, within the negative feedback condition, the AnTI meta-worry scale moderated relationships between state worry and objective performance and psychophysiological outcome measures. Under high state worry, AnTI meta-worry was associated with lower frontal oxygen saturation, but higher spectral power in high-frequency EEG bands. High meta-worry may block adaptive compensatory effort otherwise associated with worry. Findings support both the metacognitive theory of anxiety and negative emotions (Wells and Matthews, 2015), and the Trait-Stressor-Outcome (TSO: Matthews et al., 2017a) framework for resilience

Topics: metacognition, worry, grit, resilience, stress, psychophysiology, Psychology, BF1-990
Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.
Year: 2019
DOI identifier: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00640/full
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