Introverts In Demand for Mars Missions

People who need lots of social stimulation might not be the best fit for long-term missions

Kinetikon Pictures/Corbis

Though extroverts are typically very good at working in teams, apparently they just don’t have the kind of personality that future missions to Mars will need. At least, that’s what some recent research is showing.

Suzanne Bell, a psychologist at DePaul University, has been looking into how NASA can create the most effective team for a long term mission to Mars. One insight: having someone who wants to chat a lot cooped up in a small space with other people can lead to friction. 

From LiveScience

In one study of a spacecraft simulation, an extroverted team member was ostracized by two other members who were more reserved, Bell said. "They thought he was too brash, and would speak his mind too much, and talk too much," Bell said.

Moreover, extroverts may have a hard time adjusting to environments where there's little opportunity for new activities or social interactions, the researchers said.

Obviously, ostracizing a team member over the course of a long-term mission is not going to lead to optimum results. But extroversion/introvesion is only one factor researchers are considering when trying to predict how personalities might clash (or meld) over time. For even more distant journeys, like multi-generational trips to nearby stars, factors like genetics could come into play, too. Bell is also looking into how people can work out their differences on long missions, when just walking away isn't exactly an option.

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