PSYCHOSOCIAL ISSUES IN SPACE: RESULTS FROM SHUTTLE/MIR

Nick Kanas, Vyacheslav Salnitskiy, Ellen M Grund, Daniel S Weiss, Vadim Gushin, Alan Bostrom, Olga Kozerenko, Alexander Sled, Charles R Marmar

Abstract


Important psychosocial issues involving tension, cohesion, leader support, and displacement of negative emotions were evaluated in a 4 ½-year study involving five U.S. and four Russian Shuttle/Mir space missions. Weekly mood and group climate questionnaires were completed by five U.S. astronauts, eight Russian cosmonauts, and 42 U.S. and 16 Russian mission control subjects. There were few findings that supported our hypothesized changes in tension, cohesion, and leader support in crew and ground subjects using various time models, although crew members reported decreasing leader support in the 2nd half of the missions, and astronauts showed some evidence of a novelty effect in the first few weeks. There was no evidence suggesting a 3rd quarter effect among crew members on any of the 21 sub-scales evaluated. In contrast, there was strong evidence to support the hypothesized displacement of tension and negative emotions from crew members to mission control personnel and from mission control personnel to management. There were several significant differences in response between Americans vs. Russians, crew members vs. mission control personnel, and subjects in this study vs. people in comparable groups on Earth. Subject responses before, during, and after the missions were similar, and we did not find evidence for asthenia in space. Critical incidents that were reported generally dealt with events on-board the Mir and interpersonal conflicts, although most of the responses were from a relatively small number of subjects. Our findings have implications for future training and lead to a number of countermeasures.

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