The Risk for Groupthink During Long-Duration Space Missions: Results from a 105-Day Confinement Study

  • Gro Mjeldheim Sandal
  • Hege H. Bye
  • Fons J. R. van de Vijver
Part of the Space Technology Library book series (SPTL, volume 29)


On a mission to Mars the crew will experience high autonomy and interdependence. “Groupthink,” known as a tendency to strive for consensus at the cost of considering alternative courses of action, represents a potential safety hazard. This chapter addresses two aspects of “groupthink”: the extent to which confined crew members perceive increasing convergence in personal values, and whether they attribute less tension to individual differences over time. It further examines the impact of personal values for interpersonal compatibility. These questions were investigated in a 105-day confinement study in which a multinational crew (N = 6) simulated a Mars mission. The Portrait of Crew Values Questionnaire was administered regularly to assess personal values, perceived value homogeneity, and tension attributed to value disparities. Interviews were conducted before and after the confinement. Multiple regression analysis revealed no significant changes in value homogeneity over time; rather the opposite tendency was indicated. More tension was attributed to differences in hedonism, benevolence and tradition in the last 35 days when the crew was allowed greater autonomy. Three subgroups, distinct in terms of personal values, were identified. No evidence for “groupthink” was found. The results suggest that personal values should be considered in composition of crews for long-duration missions.


Space Mission Crew Member Martian Surface Mission Control High Autonomy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank the European Space Agency and the Institute for Biomedical Problems in Moscow for the support of our participation in the Mars 105 study. They also express their gratefulness for the contributions of the crew members.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gro Mjeldheim Sandal
    • 1
  • Hege H. Bye
    • 1
  • Fons J. R. van de Vijver
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.University of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.Tilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands
  3. 3.North-West UniversityPotchefstroom South Africa

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