Long-term personality data collection in support of spaceflight and analogue research.
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This is a review of past and present research into personality and performance at the University of Texas (UT) Human Factors Research Project. Specifically, personality trait data collected from astronauts, pilots, Antarctic personnel, and other groups over a 15-yr period is discussed with particular emphasis on research in space and space analogue environments. The UT Human Factors Research Project conducts studies in personality and group dynamics in aviation, space, and medicine. Current studies include personality determinants of professional cultures, team effectiveness in both medicine and aviation, and personality predictors of long-term astronaut performance. The Project also studies the design and effectiveness of behavioral strategies used to minimize error and maximize team performance in safety-critical work settings. A multi-year personality and performance dataset presents many opportunities for research, including long-term and follow-up studies of human performance, analyses of trends in recruiting and attrition, and the ability to adapt research design to operational changes and methodological advances. Special problems posed by such long-duration projects include issues of confidentiality and security, as well as practical limitations imposed by current peer-review and short-term funding practices. Practical considerations for ongoing dataset management include consistency of assessment instruments over time, variations in data acquisition from one year to the next, and dealing with changes in theory and practice that occur over the life of the project. A fundamental change in how research into human performance is funded would be required to ensure the ongoing development of such long-duration research databases.
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