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A Mixed-Methods Approach in the Arctic Archipelago of Svalbard: Studying the Cognition, Mental Health, and Lived Experiences of Small Teams in Isolation and Confinement

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By: Anna G. M. Temp, Billy Lee & Thomas H. Bak Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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Abstract

This case study outlines the cognitive, emotional, logistical, and financial demands that extreme environments place on their inhabitants. Extreme environment psychology investigates so-called isolated and confined environments, examples of which include Arctic and Antarctic research stations, manned space missions, and submarine appointments. It, thus, concerns only a very small but very unique portion of the human population: those who volunteer to partake in these missions and are deemed suitable for the mission. These people undergo great duress because they are very far away from their loved ones; they share a great amount of their living spaces with colleagues and their survival is constantly threatened by a hazardous environment. The 10 research participants in this study spent an entire year at the Polish Polar Station in Svalbard, Norway, and Anna G. M. Temp, the lead researcher, traveled there three times in that year. This case study offers insight into working with isolated and confined teams, particularly how to put your own survival into the hands of your participants and to accept responsibility for their survival in return, and the logistic complications of reaching remote areas. It also explains the mixed-methods approach to the study, along with what interpretative phenomenological analysis is and how to conduct the necessary phenomenological interviews. Examples of effective and ineffective interview questions are also provided.

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