2018 by Marcie Tucker, Ph.D.
I listened to Science Friday “Endangered Crow, Hawaiian Biodiversity, Mars Simulation” (September 21 2018). At the side of the Mauna Loa volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island six people simulate the living conditions of a Mars colony. They simulate the Mars mission in order to understand the human element- how to put the crews together and how crew cohesion and performance changes over time.
Key qualities for crew members. The person has a thick skin, a long fuse, an optimistic outlook, and are easily entertained (hard to go clubbing in space).
How hard can it be? All individuals are confident going into the simulation and they all find it more challenging than they thought it would be. Also, crew relationships change over time and crew members become sensitive to micro-stimuli (like when a crew member is eating cereal and suddenly it excessively irritates others).
Need a variety of skills for a successful crew. NASA used to think there was an ideal astronaut candidate and then just pick 6 of the same type. Not any longer – they’re looking for a toolbox a range of skills and psychological types in order to solve situations.
Key qualities for roommates. Along with the qualities above research has found a key quality in good roommates is the ability to share (the more territorial the less likely they are to be a good roommate).
How hard can it be? Overly confident roommates – those who don’t anticipate there will be any problems – are often surprised they experience conflict. Everyone experiences conflict with the people they live with – it’s how you handle it (don’t avoid it) that counts.
What are you looking for in a roommate? A key factor is your “ideal roommate” – are you looking for a friend or someone to share space with? Friends can have more difficulty living together because they don’t think they need to “work at it” – friends may actually take more work because when conflict occurs they don’t want to confront their friend. The key to effective roommate relationships is setting expectations and checking in with each other regularly.
We are like weather forecasters for roommate relationships. We help roommates identify the hotspots and comfort zones so they can have healthy roommate relationships.