Gender and Crew Domination in MDRS isolations

By Paula Peixoto - Crew Biologist - In collaboration with Inga Popovaite, M.A.

The psychological impact that astronauts undergo during space flights and space missions is a great concern for researchers. Several studies have been carried out on the ISS and in spaceflights reporting, in some cases, psychological issues related to mood (ie. depression, homesickness , anxiety) [1] or a common syndrome (Asthenization) that includes fatigue, sleep problems, irritability or emotion liability.

Thus, the importance of emotion management in Isolated Confined Environments is crucial to understand how humans interact under extreme conditions where everything scales and emotions are magnified. Moreover, reports have shown that men end up taking the leadership in situations of stress, in mix groups, even if the Crew Commander is a woman (Details of this study can be found here)

The fact that we are an all-female crew opens a very interesting line of investigation, rules out the gender influence and the crew domination in mixed groups and gives the perfect scenario to understand how women interact and collaborate without male presence.

To achieve conclusive results, we are working in collaboration with I.Popovaite, PhD candidate from the Department of Sociology and Criminology at the University of Iowa. The goal of her project will be to study the emotion management in small groups in isolated confined environments such as MDRS. We will report and document our complete experience by keeping daily journals with predetermined questions that will help determine our mood and emotional state of the day. These diaries will be studied and interviews will be led by Mrs Popovaite following the mission. This will enable us to gain some perspective on the emotions we lived in a precise moment. In addition, writing down in stressful situations helps with focus, calms one down and therefore, maintains a healthier environment.

[1] : Kanas, N. (2015). Humans in space: The psychological hurdles. Switzerland: Springer. Kanas, N., Salnitskiy, V., Grund, E.M. et al. (2000). Interpersonal and cultural issues involving crews and ground personnel during Shuttle/Mir space missions. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, 71(9 Suppl.), A11–A16.
Kanas, N., Salnitskiy, V., Weiss, D.S. et al. (2001). Crewmember and ground personnel interactions over time during Shuttle/Mir space missions. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, 72, 453–461.
Kanas, N.A., Salnitskiy, V.P., Boyd, J.E. et al. (2007). Crewmember and mission control personnel interactions during International Space Station Missions. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, 78, 601–607.