Mars500: Scientific protocols

Effects of group dynamics and loneliness on cognitive and emotional adaptation to extreme, confined environments

In the last decades, the interest in the effects of stress on mood and performance has increased. One measure of stress is, for instance, loneliness. Research on Earth has shown that loneliness is related to social, physical and personal factors. It is not known however whether astronauts or cosmonauts experience loneliness during a long term space flight, and what the effects may be on their mental processes.

The aim of this study is to understand if long-term space flights lead to stronger feelings of stress, for instance loneliness, and whether this might have an effect on performing and controlling professional tasks. At regular intervals during the mission, participants will fill in digital questionnaires and make voice recordings about their experience of stress, social/work relationships, motivation and autonomy. Also, they will be engaged in simple cognitive tasks administered through their notebook.

Results of this study will help to improve our understanding of the concerns and attitudes of space crew and personnel towards prevention and control of stress and stress-related problems.

It will also benefit on-going research by providing data, which could lead to the development of new procedures for crew selection, routine and emergencies operations, and countermeasures for use in future long-duration space flight and Antarctic programmes.

Science Team: Berna van Baarsen (NL) et al.

Last update: 26 February 2009

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