9610232 Boster Despite a vast amount of research, little is known concerning the effect of group structure, and individuals' understanding of that structure, on conflict and psychological well-being in Antarctic groups. The first segment of our research endeavor has addressed three specific questions: 1) What are the characteristics of the social relations among individuals working and living together in extreme and isolated environments?; 2) What do individuals understand about their group, how does that understanding develop, and how is it socially distributed?; and 3) What is the relationship between that understanding and both individual and group performance? In the proposed second segment, we wish to determine whether there is significant variation from one cultural setting to another in terms of the role the above factors play in the functioning of these groups. Answers to these questions are important if we are to advance our knowledge of how individuals and groups adapt to extreme environments, particularly with respect to cross-cultural similarities and differences. The overall objective of the proposed new segment of this research program is to compare and contrast the group dynamics at the United States Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station with four culturally distinct Antarctic groups: India's Maitri Station, China's Great Wall Station, Russia's Vostok Station, and Poland's Arctowski Station. Both quantitative and qualitative data will be collected on the formation of group structure, status and role consensus, perceived social conflict, group morale, and individual psychological well-being for three consecutive years at the four stations. Quantitative models on the formation of group structure will be developed. In addition, recent methodological developments in the study of social networks and intracultural variation will allow for the testing of a number of related hypotheses concerning aspects of cognition, social structure, and group functioning in a cross-cultural context. This study will: 1) contribute significantly to the theoretical understanding of the role of social structure and cognition in the functioning of groups in isolation, 2) complement current work on health and adaptation in polar environments, 3) provide for models of the formation of group structure that will aid in the development of improved procedures for assembling groups for the Antarctic and other isolated environments (e.g. space stations), and 4) allow for the valid comparison of intercultural variation in human group dynamics in isolated and extreme environments.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Polar Programs (PLR)
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Polly A. Penhale
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University of California Irvine
United States
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