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THE MENTAL HEALTH IMPLICATIONS OF WORKING IN A LUNAR SETTLEMENT. CHESTER S. SPELL School of Business-Camden Rutgers University [email protected] Technology makes it possible for human beings to live and work in places that in the past we could neither reach nor have survived in.

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the mental health implications of working in a lunar settlement

THE MENTAL HEALTHIMPLICATIONS OF WORKING IN A LUNAR SETTLEMENT

CHESTER S. SPELLSchool of Business-CamdenRutgers [email protected]

slide2
Technology makes it possible for human beings to live and work in places that in the past we could neither reach nor have survived in.
  • Extreme environments (e.g. Lunar base) present unique opportunities for psychological research and applications.
prior research
Prior Research

Psychological research of EUEs:

  • polar stations
  • space vehicles
  • undersea habitats

Methods : psychometric and projective tests, interviews, participant observations, field studies, simulations

the good news
The Good News
  • Autobiographical accounts of astronauts(Collins 1974).
  • Polar crews report many more positive than negative experiences
  • Twenty-six of 28 participants in a undersea habitat study were willing to do it again
perception and reality
Perception and reality
  • How people experience an environment is more important than the objective characteristics of the environment (Suedfeld 1991).
potential negative impact on psychological well being
Potential negative impact on psychological well-being

Social isolation

Confinement

Sensory restriction

Circadian Rhythms

confinement monotony
Confinement & Monotony
  • After 2 weeks the foremost psychological irritants were inadequate leadership and the behavior of others (Smith,1969) .
  • Members with low social coherence report significantly more depression, anxiety, and anger (Palinkas,2003)
conflict
Conflict
  • Murderous attack over a chess game (Palinkas 1990)
  • Assault with a hammer (New Zealand Herald 1996).
  • Foreign visitors in Russian and American space flights felt marginalized.
are prior results relevant for a lunar base
Are prior results relevant for a lunar base?
  • Unlikely that we can generalize data from Mercury missions, Shuttle missions of a week or two, Mir space station missions of 6–12 months.
our research study 1
Our research:Study 1
  • People working in groups share perceptions of fairness of work assignments, responsibility, etc.
  • The work group’s “fairness climate” can affect individual levels of anxiety and depression (Spell & Arnold, in press)
  • Social contagion-feelings of fairness (or unfairness)
slide11
Implication: in cohesive groups (limited interaction outside of group) establishing and maintaining fair procedures especially significant
our research study 2
Our research:Study 2
  • Faultlines: subgroups or divisions
    • Gender
    • Age
    • Experience level
    • Ethnic group
  • groups with strong faultlines and unsupportive supervisors were less anxious and depressed than groups with weak faultlines
  • groups with strong faultlines and perceived unfairness were less anxious and depressed than groups with weak faultlines
implications
Implications
  • Group composition affects individual mental health
  • In diverse work groups, importance of supportive supervisor trained in leadership
  • Speculation: effects exacerbated in extreme and isolated work environment of a lunar base
recommendations
Recommendations
  • Radloff & Helmreich: those who were considered best suited to working under water could also walk on it(!)
  • (Russian) space program:stress test requiring a group of candidates to drive a small car cross-country
  • Select crews, not just individuals
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