Cultural diversity has been a staple of NASA missions since the 1970’s. However, the push for longer duration missions has increased the need to investigate the impact on cultural diversity and crew performance. Previous studies have indicated that culturally-based differences in values, beliefs, and preferences for cognition and action can have an impact on interdependent action. Cultural diversity can pose challenges for a number of transitions, actions, and interpersonal processes and emergent states in teams. However, almost all of these studies have been conducted outside the context of space flight. The little work that has been conducted within space flight has begun to suggest that the impact of culture on teams may be different in long-duration space environment (LDSE). This drives the question as to whether cultural diversity within space flight crews has the same impact on team performance as that reported within the wider literature on cross-cultural teams and what can be done to create synergy.
The investigators aim to leverage prior work on cultural diversity and teams in mission critical environments and retrospective data on team interaction in isolated and confined environments (ICE) and pair this with experimentation in ground analog studies to better understand the critical challenges created by cultural diversity in LDSE and use this information to create and test cultural training tools that can be used pre- and inflight.
This study has the following specific aims:
- Determine the critical issues surrounding culture and team performance in LDSE.
- Determine from a compositional standpoint if there an ‘ideal’ team profile in terms of cultural orientations to facilitate team performance and adaptability in LDSE.
- Determine what types of cultural training can be developed for use preflight and inflight.
- Determine what tools can be developed to facilitate practitioners in maximizing the potential synergy in culturally diverse teams operating in LDSE (e.g., pillars, guidelines, practices, tips).
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To study the impact of cultural diversity on crew interaction and performance over time, investigators plan to study participants in Russia’s Scientific International Research In a Unique terrestrial Station (SIRIUS). SIRIUS is a mock spacecraft habitat which provides an isolated and confinement environment. Subjects will participate in four-month missions in 2018, and an eight-month mission in 2019. The investigators also plan to participate in Russia’s ground-based Experimental Complex (NEK) chamber spanning two missions. In addition, investigators aim to reanalyze existing data collected within LDSE environments at NASA and reanalyze data previously collected on cultural diversity and teams for the Army. Investigators plan to use archived data and reanalyze that data to provide evidence for the model of cultural diversity and its impact on performance in LDSE.
Investigators will conduct interviews with approximately 10 subject matter experts (SMEs) such as astronauts, mission control personnel, flight surgeons, psychological support personnel, and analog researchers regarding their experience working with culturally diverse crews. Investigators plan to develop an evidence-based cross-level model which illustrates the individual and team level challenges and impact of cultural diversity on teams in LDSE. Using this information, investigators will develop and validate training tools for preflight and inflight use.
This study builds on prior research to identify the critical challenges that cultural diversity imposes on crews in LDSE and how to mitigate those challenges through training. The investigation will result in evidence-based products, including guidelines, recommendations, and measurement tools. These products will aim to close the gaps in the understanding and measurement of shared mental models (SMMs) over time in long-duration space flight (LDSF) teams. Furthermore, this work will provide practical tools to allow for measurement of SMMs in LDSF teams to identify discrepancies among team member SMM and shifts in SMM. This knowledge and these products will serve to develop countermeasures for maintaining accurate and shared SMM over time within LDSF teams and with ground control.