Human interactions in space: results from Shuttle/Mir

Acta Astronaut. Aug-Nov 2001;49(3-10):243-60. doi: 10.1016/s0094-5765(01)00103-5.


Background: Anecdotal reports from space and results from simulation studies on Earth have suggested that space crewmembers may experience decrements in their interpersonal environment over time and may displace tension and dysphoria to mission control personnel.

Methods: To evaluate these issues, we studied 5 American astronauts, 8 Russian cosmonauts, and 42 American and 16 Russian mission control personnel who participated in the Shuttle/Mir space program. Subjects completed questions from subscales of the Profile of Mood States, the Group Environment Scale, and the Work Environment Scale on a weekly basis before, during, and after the missions.

Results: Among the crewmembers, there was little evidence for significant time effects based on triphasic (U-shaped) or linear models for the 21 subscales tested, although the presence of an initial novelty effect that declined over time was found in three subscales for the astronauts. Compared with work groups on Earth, the crewmembers reported less dysphoria and perceived their crew environment as more constraining, cohesive, and guided by leadership. There was no change in ratings of mood and interpersonal environment before, during, and after the missions.

Conclusions: There was little support for the presence of a moderate to strong time effect that influenced the space crews. Crewmembers perceived their work environment differently from people on Earth, and they demonstrated equanimity in mood and group perceptions, both in space and on the ground. Grant numbers: NAS9-19411.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Aerospace Medicine
  • Affect
  • Astronauts / psychology*
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Regression Analysis
  • Russia
  • Social Isolation / psychology
  • Space Flight*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Weightlessness*