LIVING ALOFT: Human Requirements for Extended Spaceflight

 

9. SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS.

DIRECTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH

 

 

[312] A major impetus for the present book has been to identify some of the salient unanswered questions regarding psychological functioning and social dynamics during extended spaceflight. All of the research questions identified are directed toward ensuring that crewmembers are able to maintain high levels of personal and social adjustment while performing well under the unremittingly challenging circumstances of outer space. Stated in the most general terms, the task for extended spaceflight planners and managers is to match people, environments, and tasks; that is, to devise a system consisting of compatible and mutually supportive environmental, technical, and social subsystems.

[313] There are three basic methods for aligning people, environments, and tasks. One method is to select people who are presently lit to meet the mission's requirements. The choice of short, lightweight astronauts during the era when spacecraft size had to be kept to an absolute minimum is an example of this personnel selection approach. Of course, physical characteristics provide only one basis for selection; technical skills and social compatibility are other bases. lo the past it has been possible to devote a great deal of time to selecting each individual. To process or at least screen large numbers of applicants and to compose large crews, new testing techniques need to be developed.

A second method is to modify people's biological, psychological, or interpersonal reactions to gain greater consistency with environmental, technical, and social requirements. The use of pharmacological agents to combat space sickness, training programs to develop skills in the use of equipment, and direct training in human relations are examples of this conditioning or training approach. To prepare large numbers of astronauts, we will have to identify conditioning and training procedures that are efficiently and effectively applied to entire groups.

The third method for improving the compatibility between people and life in outer space involves structuring environments in such a way that they gain greater consistency with their human users. Increasing or reorganizing interior space and simplifying the operation of scientific apparatus illustrate this method. Often overlooked, but in the same vein as environmental engineering and ergonomics, is the formulation of rules and procedures and the structuring and pacing of tasks.

In practice, we cannot afford to narrow our sights to any one technique for adjusting people and spaceflight environments. We must rely, instead, on a mixture of selection, conditioning and training, and engineering procedures to produce a smoothly functioning overall system.

In the present summary, we will first review research issues which are of interest to future spaceflight in a general sense. We will then review some of the research questions which arise, or which gain salience or complexity, as mission duration increases and as crews become larger and more heterogeneous. Next we will consider some conflicting perspectives and recommendations and the kinds of research which might reduce or eliminate some of these conflicts.

[314] Finally, we will outline research issues which we believe to be particularly deserving of consideration because little attention has been paid to them in the past.

 

General Research Issues

 

As our review of the literature demonstrates, over two decades of laboratory studies, field studies conducted in environments bearing some resemblance to space, and, of course, experience in space itself have added greatly to our abilities to forecast people's reactions to various spaceflight conditions and to take steps to upgrade the quality of human life in space. Despite these advances, our experience of space remains somewhat limited, and many important questions remain unanswered. Some of these questions are basic in that they pertain to missions of differing specifications. One group of basic questions centers around psychophysiological reactions to space. For example, it may be necessary to develop a new pharmacopoeia that takes weightlessness and time frames induced by clocks, electric lighting, and other artificial Zeitgebers into account. In this era of the Space Shuttle, space sickness remains a problem and an enigma. The underlying mechanisms are not well understood, and age, gender, physiological variables, personality variables, and many other possible predictors have yet to be fully explored. Despite the lack of clear theoretical supports, simulation studies suggest that biofeedback may be useful for controlling motion sickness on Earth, but the procedure remains untested in space. If subsequent findings confirm the value of biofeedback for controlling space sickness, further research may be in order to explore the possible value of biofeedback for controlling blood pressure, heart rate, and other psychophysiological responses in space. Optimal biofeedback training procedures would then have to be devised. The hypothesis that people who are smaller, older, and not unusually physically fit have certain advantages in space is also of interest; more information is needed on the dynamics of these relationships. We need to identify which specific exercises are best suited for space as well as to identify methods of increasing commitment to exercise regimens. Tailoring activity programs to the personal preference of the individual astronaut and including reliable methods for tracking one's progress or skill development are among the possibilities that might be explored.

Among the other psychophysiological questions that one might raise are those pertaining to (1) how individuals differ in susceptibility to desynchronosis, (2) how work schedules might be adjusted to [315] coincide with biological clocks, and (3) how aids might be employed to combat desynchronosis. The effects of artificial gravity also need to be explored. For example, would the performance benefits that might result from a 0.25-g artificial gravity justify the expense? Although a fair amount of research has been devoted to the effects of spaceflight conditions on psychomotor performance, very little is known about the effects of these conditions on cognitive performance. The combined effects of weightlessness, desynchronosis, isolation, confinement, risk, and so forth on intellectual functioning is a salient and important research area.

Additional questions need to be asked about perception, motivation, and other psychological processes. For example, a certain amount of routine work is required to better understand color and brightness sensitivity, dark adaptation, and taste and odor thresholds and tolerances under spaceflight conditions. Noise annoyance thresholds, particularly those related to unrelieved noise sources, also need to be examined. The questions regarding human motivation are numerous and complex. One central research issue of particular Importance in interplanetary flight involves work-oriented people who must spend prolonged periods with little to do. Another central research area involves identifying ways of increasing both extrinsic and intrinsic rewards. Traditional rewards such as pay will probably lose value in space, so supplementary or alternative means of compensation need to be studied. Extrinsic rewards in the form of social recognition are likely to decline as spaceflights become more routine, and techniques for offsetting this decline should be identified. Among the techniques that could increase social recognition are publicity campaigns, increased within-group recognition, and altering the bases for recognition from the journey itself to achievements in scientific or technical areas or in organizational leadership. The attainment of mission goals will no doubt be a powerful reward; since these goals may be remote in time, we need to explore the potential benefits of interim goals. Techniques that would produce increased congruence between tasks and personal interests, increased variety in tasks performed by an individual, and increased individual responsibility have been proposed as methods of increasing intrinsic satisfaction Task structure and design and its relationship to workers' personal needs is a large and potentially fruitful area for future research.

In addition to unanswered questions about work in space, there are unanswered questions about leisure in space. Food seems to be an important gratification in exotic environments. We need to [316] understand how food might be used, or perhaps abused, to fulfill psychological and social needs in space. Individuals in remote environments show a preference for passive forms of recreation. What is the basis for this preference, and under what conditions will active, and perhaps even competitive pastimes be enjoyed?

Continuing isolation, confinement, deprivation, and danger are likely to place extreme stress on crewmembers, and there are many unanswered questions regarding their mental health. Little is known, for example, about the personal resources that may be required to cope with emergency situations in outer space. Additional research is required to identify characteristics of people who have high stress tolerances and to devise training procedures to increase people's abilities to control stress. Dissociation, or out-of-body experiences, sometimes occur when a disaster is imminent. A hypothesis that has been offered here is that this phenomenon relates to the perception that the individual has no control over the event which is threatening him. Testing this or competing hypotheses could aid the process of identifying possible countermeasures.

The general role of objective, perceptual, and cognitive factors governing the arousal, control, and dissipation of fear is an area with potentially important research implications. Means of dealing with specific crises pose another set of questions. How do isolation, confinement, and risk affect the grieving process? How will surviving crewmembers cope with a death aboard the spacecraft? It is of paramount importance to uncover the means for maintaining the level of personal functioning and social coordination that is required for a crew to successfully cope with such disrupting events. Russian research suggests that crews that are "homeostatic" (i.e., crews whose different members show synchronous psychophysiological responses and behaviors) may be particularly well equipped to cope with highly stressful and demanding situations. This suggestion, if confirmed, could have a direct impact on selection strategies.

There is evidence that "blaming" behavior follows a crisis, and there is some suggestion that the second or third in command is a likely target of this blame. We need to examine blaming and particularly scapegoating and their implications for life in space. Psychotherapy under spaceflight conditions is a wide-open research area; peer support strategies, the use of on- board mental health professionals, and therapy via telecommunications systems are of particular importance.

[317] For the most part, space travel is a group activity. A major concern, therefore, is to compose crews which are compatible in the sense that the different individuals can work with and enjoy one another. We suspect that the research conducted to date only begins to tap the factors that are related to compatibility. First, we need to identify means for assessing interpersonal and technical competence. Second, we need to expand our search for personality characteristics that prove desirable for spaceflight conditions. In some cases these traits might be dual traits which are variable in their expression. An example of such a trait is androgyny; androgynous individuals can adopt either the instrumental or the expressive role. Another desirable dual trait, we propose, is ambiversion; that is, the ability to be social and outgoing or self-sufficient and contained, depending on the demands of the situation. Still other dual traits might be identified which could lead to selecting individuals particularly suited to life in space. The intermeshing of different people's needs also deserves further study. Research should include groups larger than two or three individuals, and the number of needs considered should be expanded beyond that of present research. From the opposite perspective, it would be useful to explore further the consequences of incompatibility.

In search for complex bases for social compatibility, we should not ignore the simple fact that some people possess mannerisms which other people find annoying. Development of an annoyance questionnaire would help eliminate people who are sensitive to too many human frailties as well as people who possess too many irritating qualities. In conducting research on interpersonal compatibility, it should be kept in mind that crewmembers' perceptions of compatibility may be more important than the actual intermeshing of underlying personal qualities.

Communication is the basic process which underlies the coordination of different people's activities. Reduced atmospheric pressure and the environmental conditions associated with weightlessness can interfere with both verbal and nonverbal communication. The effect of spaceflight conditions on direct personal communication requires further exploration, and the means for improving the signal-to-noise ratio need to be identified.

Tremendous demands are placed upon spacecrew leaders. We suspect that many of the forms of social power that make it possible for an individual to direct and coordinate others will erode under future spaceflight conditions. Additional research is needed to assess [318] the decline of various forms of social power and to find counteractive measures. Most of the existing accounts of Ieaders in space-like environments focus on the Ieader's characteristics, but contemporary approaches to leadership encompass follower characteristics and situational factors as well. Research on leadership under spaceflight conditions should be expanded to include these additional variables. Some leadership requirements may be satisfied by people not designated as leaders; other leadership requirements may be satisfied by formalized rules, constructing equipment in such a way that certain forms of misuse become unlikely, and other techniques. It would be useful to know more about the optimal distribution of leadership functions for various mission categories. We also need to research the advantages and disadvantages of various autocratic and participative decision-making procedures, given different crews, tasks, and environments. Future research or leadership in space-like environments should not rest exclusively on the traditional hierarchical model, but reflect instead a wide range of perspectives and possibilities.

A certain amount of compliance and conformity are required for people to work together effectively. However, compliance and conformity can militate against innovation and reduce personal satisfaction. There are many unanswered questions regarding the optimal balance between social control and individual expression. For example, under spaceflight conditions, the constraining effects of conformity on innovative problem solving may be particularly severe, and we should seek ways to ensure that good ideas will be aired. Aggression, hostility, and interpersonal conflict must be kept within acceptable limits without resulting in other disruptive behaviors such as psychological withdrawal. We see some real value in exploring the effects of direct training in human relations, the use of on-board specialists in human relations, and external arbitration and mediation conducted through some form of teleconferencing arrangements.

As yet no legal system has been developed that is simple enough to work in space, but which preserves some of Western society's traditional standards and safeguards. However, acceptable sanctions must be found. Under spaceflight conditions, ostracism resulting from either violating the group's informal rules or from breaking the law is likely to have a devastating effect on the deviant and on the rest of the crew. Other methods must be sought to control unacceptable behavior and to allow for reintegrating transgressors into the group Similarly, we must find methods of integrating newcomers into an established crew.

[319] For each space mission, planners are confronted with the task of defining and articulating a set of roles which is comprehensive but which leaves crewmembers with some opportunities and options. Role-related research issues include identifying means for preventing role overload, preventing the rise of role-related factions or minimizing the conflicts if such factions do arise, and fostering perceptions that different roles have appropriate balances of obligations and rewards

Most spacecrews are far from being completely isolated; there is some communication with mission control and, oftentimes, with family and friends. A critical problem is improving our understanding of spacecrew/mission-control dynamics. There are many subsidiary issues: the degree to which mission control should be privy to various crew communications and activities, symmetry in spacecrew/mission-control access, the distribution of power and authority, controlling information in such a way that information overload is prevented and proper priorities are maintained, spacecrew/mission control rapport, and the role of people who serve at the boundaries of the interfacing systems. Additional research is also required to better understand how interacting through telecommunications systems affects relationships with mission control and with family and friends, and how these relationships with external parties in turn affect interaction within the crew. Among the possible telecommunications modes are one-way and two-way audio, video, and alphanumeric or computer systems. These modes will vary in terms of difficulty of use and in terms of impact on interpersonal relations. We need to know more about the benefits and limitations of these different communications systems in the space application. Finally, there are questions regarding the reintegration of crewmembers into their- home communities following an extended stay in space.

 

Extended Spaceflight Variables

 

In chapter 1, we described extended spaceflight as marked by significant increases in crew size, crew heterogeneity, and mission duration Increased size increases the pool of skills aboard, as well as the friendship options, and also introduces variety into social life. However, increasing crew size can also introduce new problems. Large crews may be more difficult to organize (requiring, perhaps, bureaucratic rules and regulations), and may be more likely to give birth to disruptive cliques. Increased crew size can result in lowering the social recognition which can be accorded to each member, and may have an adverse effect on individual motivation. Larger crews [320] also increase demands placed on Ieaders and may require multiple layers of Ieadership.

As with large crews, crews composed of a heterogeneous mix of individuals offer the opportunity for varied social relationships and varied work roles, but can also introduce the opportunity for interpersonal conflict, for factionalism, and for prejudice and stereotyping. Furthermore, heterogeneous crews can result in miscommunications and can increase the difficulty in achieving interpersonal coordination.

Increasing the duration of spaceflight is likely to increase the general level of social tension aboard and to decrease the effectiveness of traditional rewards and sanctions. In addition, very long flights may exacerbate the drift away from the values and controls of the sponsoring society, and increase the need for local authority.

In summary, increasing crew size, heterogeneity, and mission duration are likely to yield a complex array of effects, some of which may undercut the quality of life in space, and some of which may actually enhance it. Let us turn now to some of the research issues specifically associated with the variables of size, heterogeneity, and duration.

Size- Increasing crew size raises the salience of virtually all of the research issues identified under the General Research Issues section of this chapter. First, the decreased selectivity required to staff large or multiple crews is likely to yield astronauts who are less resistant to some of the pressures and problems of extended spaceflight than are astronauts of yesterday and today. Hence, it becomes more important to find ways to reduce the pressures and to prevent or solve the problems. Second, if attached to each astronaut is some probability of an adverse occurrence (i.e., a psychotic episode, a criminal act, serious illness, or death), then the greater the number of astronauts who venture into space, the greater the likelihood of occurrence of an adverse event and the greater our need to know how to deal with such an event.

Increasing crew size also generates new research issues. The interior space needs of crews of different sizes are not well understood; in fact, it is not clear whether the amount of additional space required per person increases or decreases as crews become large. Increasing crew size can also affect motivation if, for example, associated with increased crew size is increased task specialization.

[321] Additional research is required to better understand the interrelationships among such variables as crew size, activity range, and motivation. In addition, we need to know more about the effects of increasing crew size on the formation and development of social relations. For instance, attitudinal differences among crew members appear to have a negative influence on compatibility of small crews, but may be an enriching factor among larger crews. At what point does this shift occur? Or, more generally, under what conditions are attitudinal differences tolerated and even welcomed?

Other significant size-related questions affect organization and management. At what crew size do potentially disruptive factions begin to emerge and how can differences among groups be minimized? Also, what crew sizes require multiple levels of management, and how should supporting communications networks be organized to accommodate this end?

Heterogeneity- As crews are selected from various backgrounds, plans and procedures that are predicated on studies of technically trained, white males will lose precedence, and research will be required to identify the effects of age, various backgrounds, and various mixes under spaceflight conditions. For example, we need to know more about the effects of such variables as age, gender, educational background, and other differences on psychophysiological processes: the arousal and control of fear, deconditioning tolerances, and space sickness susceptibility. In addition, we need to understand how various individuals and combinations of individuals differ in terms of habitability requirements such as internal space needs and r recreational preferences. There is suggestive evidence that among isolated individuals, diverse groups engage in more active leisure than do homogeneous groups; this evidence requires substantiation.

A possible negative aspect of heterogeneity of the group occurs in perceptions of and responses to crowding. Privacy invasions by friends appear to be relatively rare, even in high- density situations. This may be because friends usually share values as well as interests. If shared values form a basis for privacy protection, heterogeneous groups may have particular difficulty in preserving privacy in space. The relationship of heterogeneity of the group to perceptions of crowding and privacy should be investigated.

We also need to understand the effects of increased heterogeneity on social interactions within the crew and between the crew and mission control. For example, what attitudes and interaction [322] patterns will prevail when crews are composed of both genders and span a range of ages and ethnic backgrounds? Cultural heterogeneity raises many special questions about conflict, performance, and morale. The possible effects of cultural heterogeneity on communications are particularly deserving of study. Since both direct and indirect communications may be more difficult in heterogeneous crews, we need to learn more about what communications mechanisms work reliably across cultural and language barriers, and what level of redundancy is needed to ensure that communication does not break down.

Duration- Increasing mission duration increases the significance of some of the basic research issues identified earlier. First, increasing the amount of time in space increases the wear and tear on the human organism. Conditions which can be tolerated on a short-term basis may not be well tolerated on a long-term basis. Second, even as increased crew size increases the probability of an untoward event, so does increased mission duration. For example, a natural death in a small group becomes relatively likely if we consider a sufficiently long span of time. We must point out, however, that there are complex interrelationships among the many variables associated with spaceflight. Thus, we might expect desynchronosis to be a greater problem on short flights than on long flights, because people are likely to resynchronize to an artificial environment over time.

New questions emerge when we consider missions of longer duration than those which have already been mounted. The onset of space sickness is time-dependent and there is evidence that space sickness is a passing phenomenon, but the time line of the disturbance and the conditions of recurrence are not well understood. Related research issues involve long-term habituation to weightlessness, and the possibly different effects of drugs in long-term compared with short- term missions.

As in the case of crew size and heterogeneity, mission duration is expected to affect habitability requirements. The amount of interior space that suffices on brief missions may prove inadequate on extended missions. Also, we need to understand human adaptation to an unusual three-dimensional world. If space travelers can learn to adapt to an existence lacking a vertical orientation, we will need to plot the course and process of this adaptation. There are questions about the use of food in space; we need to understand how the use of food will change over time, and to determine the potential evolving roles of alcohol and other "recreational" drugs. Eventually, [323] spaceflights will be long enough to encourage a relaxed living style; to plan for such flights we need to determine what kinds of environments (decor, lighting, sound, etc.) are supportive of life in space, and how demands (e.g., for increased complexity) change over time.

A reasonable hypothesis is that boredom will become a greater problem as missions gain in length, and that simple, repetitive tasks may be particularly unpopular on extended-duration missions. As work becomes routine, we might expect space travelers to look for challenges elsewhere. A significant question is whether use of Ieisure time becomes (or could be directed into) more active pursuits as spaceflight Iengthens.

Other concerns are the effects of increased mission duration on interpersonal relations. We need to determine how anxiety can be diffused in space without invoking behaviors that would be harmful to the individual or to group relations. There is evidence that in confinement people tend at first to overshare personal confidences and then, over time, to psychologically withdraw from others in the group. We need to determine the time line of this process, as well as the techniques that can be introduced to offset it. We also need to determine how individuals who have themselves withdrawn, or who have been ostracized by others, can be reintegrated into the group. There are suggestions that group processes in space will Iead to a high Ievel of conformity and a Iessening of creativity over time. This area needs to be explored. Other questions involving intragroup functioning on long-duration spaceflights concern how Ieaders emerge in space and how Ieadership roles change over time.

Finally, and perhaps most crucially, we need to examine the effects of the passage of time on the relationships between the spacecrew and mission control. We anticipate a general drift away from the control of the sponsoring society. In addition, there is a point in many confinement experiences at which hostility toward, and rejection of, outside authority is displayed. We need to determine how this process is affected by the duration of flight and whether factors, such as known Iength of stay, influence inter-group attitudes. For instance, does the Iength of the flight affect the crew's willingness to have bad news from home withheld? Other crew/ground-control questions concern how to maintain communication when the light is sufficiently long to render the mission effectively independent of the sponsoring society.

 

[324] Competing Perspectives

 

In this section we will point out some questions which arise because different analysts, reviewers, or researchers have approached a problem with different underlying assumptions; because they have formulated conflicting interpretations of a consistent data set, or because the data themselves have been inconsistent.

One frequently expressed assumption is that selection and training techniques used in preparation for spaceflight are so highly sophisticated that issues of personal and social adjustment become almost irrelevant. We believe that this assumption begs the question and is potentially harmful to the cause of extended spaceflight Selecting a small number of individuals from a large pool of candidates is considerably easier than selecting a large number of individuals from a shrinking pool of candidates. But, more to the point, we would argue that the success of past flights reflects the ability of space planners to effectively implement information supplied by researchers and practitioners. It does not mean that the space program has any proprietary formulae in these areas or that information on which selection and training decisions are made is complete, or even adequate. In the relationship between the space mission and the human, there exists a gap between what we know and what we need to know; this gap can only widen with extended spaceflight.

Looking closely at the selection area itself reveals differences in the way analysts view the task. Do we, for instance, select on the basis of task requirements (resulting in a crew of specialists) or on the basis of social requirements (resulting in a crew with a more generalist orientation)? And what, specifically, are the preferred social characteristics of space travelers? Here again we see differences of opinion. Some observers have argued that those with little need for, or skill in, social exchange would do well in space; others feel that a more responsive personality would be the appropriate choice. Characteristics of the flight are likely to assume importance in determining preferred characteristics of crewmembers. For instance, one could imagine that a narrowly focused individual would do well on a short flight with intense work requirements, whereas an individual with considerable flexibility would be required for a long-duration mission with periods of less concentrated work. Whatever the resolution of these and similar questions, the selection process will continue to suggest varied and potentially conflicting requirements.

[325] Psychophysiological research presents many interesting puzzles. Some researchers have shown very positive results using biofeedback to control symptoms of motion sickness, yet others indicate that such training, in theory, should not work at all. If both areas of investigation are correct, one is left with the question of what is being trained in the former instance and how it relates to motion sickness. This question is not tied exclusively to motion sickness. For instance, biofeedback has been used to treat such common symptoms as headaches, yet there is little or no understanding of the etiology of these headaches or how biofeedback relieves them. Other psychophysiological discrepancies concern the interrelationship of physiological characteristics, personality traits, and susceptibility to motion and space sickness.

In the perceptual area, too, there are inconsistencies to be resolved. In the early days of spaceflight, sightings by astronauts gave rise to the belief that vision was improved by weightlessness. Subsequent analysis of the details of the viewing situation showed space acuity to be within normal Earth limits. Later Russian experiments indicated that certain aspects of vision, rather than being improved, are degraded in space. As with the reports of improved vision, these reports are likely to be in error. However, our knowledge of how various aspects of vision are affected by weightlessness and other spaceflight conditions remains sketchy.

Evidence on sleep in space has also been inconsistent. Sleep has been poor during most flights, yet there is some evidence from Skylab that sleep may actually be better and more efficient in space than on Earth. One can easily construct plausible explanations for either of these conclusions; still, the actual effects of the space environment on sleep need to be determined.

Once agreement has been reached that a problem exists, observers with different perspectives may prescribe conflicting strategies for solving it. For instance hostility among isolated and confined individual tends to be quite predictable and to follow a consistent pattern Some believe that the nature of such conflict should be explained to space travelers, along with suggestions on how to respond. Others argue that such warnings would constitute selffulfilling prophesies that would further add to the burden of adapting to life in space. Similarly, some advisors propose that on-board "gripe" sessions should be held as a means of managing hostility in space Other advisors, relying on the observation that isolated and confined individuals circumvent even mild encounters, suggest [326] avoiding confrontations, since they may be damaging to the stability of the group.

Conflicting recommendations can also be found in the area of leadership. Some observers believe that leaders best maintain their positions of authority by psychologically distancing themselves from the rest of the crew. However, maintaining distance from the rest of the crew limits the information the leader is able to receive, and could burden the leader with the extreme stress of being an isolate in a separated group. Before either strategy is adopted, we must understand all potential consequences. It may be that a compromise strategy is required. For instance, in the early days of sailing, the ship's captain remained aloof from the activities of the crew, but he was allowed to bring aboard an individual of his choice who would act as his companion/confidant. If the demands of leadership are found to require the separation of the space commander from the rest of the crew, the role of companion to the leader may need to be revived.

The dilemma of leadership has a parallel in appropriate behavior for a follower. Just how far should an individual, not in a leadership role, press his or her views on others? When a crewmember follows a directive which he or she believes to be in error, and as a result a failure or accident occurs, he or she will probably feel guilty and be judged by others to have behaved inappropriately. On the other hand, when a crewmember for any reason fails to follow a directive, and as a result a failure or accident occurs, other people will surely brand that crewmember's behavior as inappropriate. Unfortunately, such post facto determinations do not help the crewmember to know when to speak up, when and how long to argue, when to refuse to comply, and when to accede. These issues constitute the dilemma of effective followership.

How to promote a healthy relationship between spacecrews and mission control represents another area of conflicting assumptions. Some argue that crews should be trained to include ground control in their concept of the spacecrew, thereby dispelling the expressions of hostility that are so often directed toward outsiders by members of confined groups. The opposing position is that antagonism is a natural outgrowth of the confinement experience, and that if hostility is deflected away from outsiders, crewmembers will turn their anger against each other or against themselves.

[327] In each of these cases, competing or conflicting perspectives have led to differing beliefs about behavioral and interpersonal problems in space, and steps needed to be taken to rectify them. In such cases, research directed at the source of the conflict would be particularly important for spaceflight planning.

 

Neglected Research Areas

 

Research topics pertinent to extended spaceflight differ widely in the attention they have been given. I n this section we wish to underscore a few of those topics which we believe are both important in themselves, and deserve special consideration because they have received relatively little attention in the past.

Multiple stressors- Combinations of stressors can aggrevate, cancel, or reverse the effects of single stressors. These varied effects have been observed across a wide range of stressors including physiological, psychological, environmental, etc. It is essential that the stressors of space be examined in combination to determine their cumulative and interactive effects on individual behavior and interpersonal relations.

Selecting in- The necessity of selecting those best qualified to deal with the conditions of space differs in kind from the more usual psychological research which emphasizes eliminating the unfit. Those charged with selecting top executives or successful candidates for prestigious professional schools face similar, but far more limited, problems. Selection for space must consider all aspects of the individual. This need presents a potentially large area of research in which the determination of factors involved in emotional balance will occupy a central role.

Groups as groups- Selection strategies generally emphasize the qualities of the individual. However, it is also necessary to understand how personal qualities intermesh with, and potentially complement, those of others. Studies are needed to address this latter issue. Also, the majority of studies of small groups are based on individuals who were brought together- solely for the purpose of the study; that is, groups of aggregated individuals. This approach is helpful in understanding interactions that occur at the beginning of a relationship What is also needed are studies to reveal how people who have known each other for long periods of time behave.

[328] Mediated communications- The effect of mediated communications is a relatively new area of investigation. It is therefore not surprising that research in this area has concentrated on average Earth situations; that is, on situations in which mediated communication is an essentially peripheral activity and in which the preponderance of significant communication is conducted face to face. To understand the effects of mediated communication in space, research is needed in environments in which indirect communication, rather than face-to-face communication, forms the essential link.

Boundary roles- Individuals who form the focus of interaction between groups perform an essential yet demanding function. In the stressful environment of an extended space mission, the difficulties of people who fulfill such roles are likely to be exacerbated. We need to know more about the effects of various structural arrangements, the personal characteristics necessary for the boundary role, and the effect of the role on its occupants.

On-board training- In the future, extensive ground training regimens may not always be practical. In addition, some crews will eventually find themselves with little essential work to occupy their time. Therefore, we suggest a greater emphasis on on-board, rather than preflight, training. We suspect that a significant number of tasks, even those which are important to the success of the mission (but not to the safety of the crew), can be learned, and may be learned better, in flight. On-board training could also be used to train crew members for less essential work, such as training for multiple duties, or general educational training. The practicality of this approach to training needs to be carefully explored.


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