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Public attitudes, perceptions and behaviours towards cabin safety communications
13 July 2006

The ATSB released the findings of a study that provided an overview of aircraft cabin safety communications in Australia, in terms of effectiveness, passenger attitudes to such communications and opportunities that exist for improvement.
Most passengers agreed that paying attention to cabin safety communications is important. However, results revealed that behaviours do not always match this perception. Perceived relevance of safety information and frequency of travel were found to be significant factors affecting passenger attitudes and behaviours. High levels of message recognition, combined with excessive levels of confidence in personal ability to perform safety actions may be key drivers of reduced perceptions of relevance.
Passenger attention levels to safety communications were found to be generally low. Of all communication types tested, the safety briefing was most prone to perceptions of reduced relevance through repeated exposure, while very low attention levels and perceptions of content establish safety cards as being generally ineffective.
Analysis identified that low levels of passenger attention to safety communications results from overconfidence, superficial familiarity with messages, issues relating to the way safety content is presented, perceptions of substitutability between the card and briefing and social norms present in the aircraft cabin.
A framework for cognitive processing of cabin safety communications is presented. The framework identifies that passenger behaviours may be negatively influenced by perceptions that it is socially undesirable to pay attention to safety information. Changing normative and attitudinal beliefs represents the greatest opportunity to improve communication effectiveness.
Key opportunities are identified to improve cabin safety through enhancement of communications. These recommendations include tailoring communications to the needs of specific passenger profiles, providing additional information to passengers, improved design guidelines, regular content variation and use of communications specialists in safety media design. (ATSB)