Shackleton Centenary Expedition

Sponsored by Matrix & Timberland

The psychology of living in Antarctica


'Psychologists categorize Antarctic research stations as isolated, confined environments (ICE, appropriately).'

So begins an article from the Stanford University Humanities Lab. The SHL believes that some crucial questions - about what it is to be human, about experience in a connected world, about the boundaries of culture and nature - transcend the old divisions between the arts, sciences and humanities, between the academy, industry and the cultural sphere.

The article that the quote came from can be accesed by clicking here. It looks at the lives lead by researchers in Antarctic research stations, and notes the psychological challenges of living in confined quarters with a diverse group of people who (most likely) did not know each other previously and did not choose to live together, isolated from friends, family and the rest of the world.

This sounded reasonably salient to us, although we'll be in a tent rather than a presumably much larger and much warmer research startion.

Even more interesting to know is that in the 1960s, psychologists hired by the U.S. Navy analyzed evaluations of over 1,000 people who had wintered over in order to create a system to screen candidates before going to Antarctica. They determined that the most important factors for effective performance in the Antarctic are industriousness, emotional stability, and sociability.

Looking around the site a bit more I also happened to stumble upon their take on the original Nimrod Expedition which can be seen by clicking here.

Posted by Tim Fright on December 29, 2007 5:10 PM