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Space Travel

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 663
  • Category: Mars

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This article examines whether there are certain personality characteristics and shared values that are common in those that are operating in different extreme environment settings. This is done to determine the generalizability of these characteristics for future space flight. As we currently understand, space travel includes factors such as isolation, confinement and limited options for evacuation. By studying individuals and groups that are operating in extreme environments, such as mountaineers, military personnel, Antarctic over-winterers and mars simulation participants, the researchers attempt to bring to light the common psychological factors and coping mechanisms that can be applied to the potential crew members involved in space travel. With this information, the researchers hope to predict which individuals and groups are most likely to adjust and cope in the challenging environment of space, as well as the best personality and value characteristics that are most compatible for space travel and allow for the greatest group rapport. This assessment will allow researchers to better understand the overall behavior of the people functioning in challenging situations, and to discover the motivational goals and justification of choices that are most common throughout those that are performing in harsh settings.

In the present study, researchers utilized both unpublished data and data from previous studies on individuals working in challenging environments. In total, four populations were assessed to determine the generalizability of certain personality characteristics and traits in extreme settings. The first population was the Danish Special Forces military personnel that took part in Arctic patrols. The second population consisted of mountaineers that pursued different expedition objectives in several locations from around the world. The third population was the French and Italian groups in Antarctica that would stay there throughout the winters, while the last population consisted of data taken from analog studies of two crews that were confined in a simulated Mars space vessel. These four population samples provided the researchers with data from one-hundred and seventeen participants. The mountaineering participants consisted of fifty-nine individuals, while the Danish personnel had twenty-five members, the Over-Winterers contained twenty-one individuals, and the Mars Simulation individuals had twelve participants. To measure their personal values, the researchers had all participants complete a PVQ. The mountaineers, over-winterers and military personnel all took the 40-item version of this survey test, while the mars simulation participants completed the 21-item version. The PVQ survey gave the participants different statements (e.g. “It is important to be empathetic.”) and had them respond on a scale of 1, not like me at all, to 6, very much like me. Each survey included questions related to ten core values, which are power, achievement, hedonism, stimulation, self-direction, universalism, benevolence, tradition, conformity and security.

There were several interesting patterns that the researchers discovered throughout this study. Across all participation groups, the values of stimulation, self-direction, benevolence and universalism were deemed as being the most compatible with the individual’s personal value system. Moreover, the value of power was rated as the least concordant. The other values assessed, being achievement, tradition and security, were considered less compatible to the individual’s own values. In the specific groups that were studied, both the mountaineers and over-winterers deemed self-direction and universalism as the most important values. The military personnel rated self-direction and benevolence as the most important, while the Mars simulation participants believed that benevolence, self-direction and stimulation were all crucial. The values that were rated the least important across all groups were tradition, power, achievement, and security.

The goal of obtaining this information is to determine the individual profile of someone who is more likely to adjust and function in stressful, harsh environments such as long-duration space travel. The values and personality characteristics related to self-direction, stimulation, benevolence and universalism are believed to be extremely important in the extreme environmental settings. These characteristic types are thought to be what is psychologically and behaviorally necessary of individuals participating in long-term space travel and is what should be studied and looked for when selecting these individuals.

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