Main features of expeditioners’personality traits in Antarctic conditions
Keywords:wintering teams, winter-over syndrome, socio-spatial isolation, personality traits, psychoticism, neuroticism, mental health, Antarctic expeditioners, adaptation
Introduction. Determining the benefits of basic human personality traits is one of the main components of the selection and staffing of small groups of peoples that are working in extreme environmental conditions and socio-spatial isolation. These groups include teams of polar explorers, scientists from outlying research bases, ship and submarine crews, and aircraft and space shuttles teams.
Purpose. To identify the prevailing type of temperament of and personal changes in people working on the Antarctic station during a one-year period of isolation to develop measures to maintain their mental and physical health.
Methodology. A total of 48 people (46 men and 2 women aged from 23 to 63 years) from four wintering teams of the Ukrainian Antarctic station (UAS) “Akademik Vernadsky” were voluntarily interviewed according to the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ). The poll was conducted twice – before the departure to the Antarctic station and after their return after a year. Participants were studied in two groups (24 peoples) once again after a 6-month stay on the Antarctic station, to determine the level of psychoticism. The research was based on the analysis of preferences and changes in personality traits: Extraversion/Introversion, Neuroticism/Stability, and Psychoticism/Socialization.
Results. Based on the analysis of indicators such as Extraversion/Introversion, Neuroticism/Stability, and Psychoticism/Socialization, we determined the general structure of the personal characteristics of the expeditioners. Indicators of these characteristics showed that more than a third of the expeditioners (36.1%) were pronounced extroverts. A majority (61.1%) of the respondents were characterized by an intermediate between extraversion and introversion, and only 2.8% were pronounced introverts. 58.4% of the respondents were characterized by a low level of neuroticism, while 33.3% were characterized by medium level of neuroticism. Only 8.3% were found to have a high level of neuroticism. Low levels of psychoticism were predominant in 56.3% of the respondents while the remaining 43.7% had medium levels of psychoticism. A high level of psychoticism was absent in the respondents which indicates a psychologically correct selection of the team. Analysis of the dynamics of psychoticism revealed that there were higher growth rates (+0.97) of average indexes of psychoticism during the first 6 months of the expeditioners’ stay at the Antarctic station than at the end of the activity. This was due to the “acute adaptation” period when the respondent fit in the natural conditions of Antarctica. Furthermore, there was a development of psychoticism in the expeditioners during the “polar night”; the growth rates of psychoticism decreased after adaptation.
Conclusions. To maintain people’s mental health at the Antarctic station, it is optimal to select candidates for a one-year expedition with average rates of extraversion-introversion, and mostly low rates of neuroticism and psychoticism. These personal characteristics must be taken into account when forming an expedition team. The level of psychoticism during the expedition increases under the influence of the adverse environmental conditions of Antarctica and the socio-spatial isolation
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