«Mars-500» project
Simulation of a manned flight to Mars

Influence of long-term confined and multicultural environments on nonverbal communication

Purpose of the study

To explore the influence of long-term confined and multicultural environments on nonverbal communication.


a. Exploring crewmember’s nonverbal communication changing mode in long-term confined environment;

b. Exploring the correlation between nonverbal communication and different culture, “flight” time, role, etc;

c. Finding out the effects of crewmember’s affective sensibility, mood, and neuro-type on nonverbal communication.


Many interpersonal issues, such as interpersonal tension, social maladjustment, even interpersonal conflicts,were reported in space flight, polar exploration, submarine mission etc. And some astronauts suffered from social readaptation after flight.

Many related studies focused on the interpersonal status among crew or between crew and ground., and investigated the factors which might affect interpersonal relationship, such as crew size, crew heterogeneity, leadership roles, changes in cohesion, language and dialect variations. But seldom paid attention to the mechanism of interpersonal issues, that is, through what do these factors affect interpersonal relationship?

Long-term isolation and confinement, small crew size and fixed roles will lead to interpersonal monotone. In flight stage, the dominating relationship among the participants is working partnership, and there were much less communications with relatives, friends, boss or subordinates. Due to confined space and small crew size, buffer and transfer or withdrawal mechanisms are lacked when interpersonal conflict occurs. In addition, crew members interpersonal skill may be damaged by the stroke of different cultures.

Interpersonal communication includes two aspects: verbal and nonverbal. Nonverbal cues of intercommunication include voice tone, facial expressions, eye contact, body posture, and the using of common space, etc. Eye contact, body posture etc. reflects the relationship of talkers.. Interpersonal distance is a good indicator of the closeness in talkers. Great differences in nonverbal behavior among different cultures have been found. In fact, the non-verbal is more important than verbal in communications in many cases,. American anthropologist Birdwhistell claims that 65% information is conveyed through nonverbal communication. American psychologist Albert Mehrabian once confirmed through experiments: The overall effect of the information = 7% words +38% tone +55% facial expressions and movements. Human beings always transmit information by language and non-language symbols.

Interpersonal issues in long-term space flight may be related to the impairment of crew member’s intercommunication skills, especially to nonverbal ones.

This study will provide useful information for the in-flight mental support and post-flight interpersonal skills’ recovery of long-term space missions.


© Development and desing: Oleg Voloshin