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Psychological selection of Antarctic personnel: the "SOAP" instrument

By Iain Grant, Hege R. Eriksen, Peter Marquis, Ingrid J. Orre, Lawrence A. Palinkas, Peter Suedfeld, Erling Svensen and Holger Ursin

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: The potential advantage of including a psychological test battery in the selection process for service in the Antarctic was examined in 348 applicants for employment in Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).\ud \ud METHODS: Applicants were screened with the Selection of Antarctic Personnel battery (SOAP) consisting of nine well-known psychological instruments. The SOAP scores were not revealed to the BAS selection panel members, who based the selection on operational criteria, interview, and a general medical examination. The SOAP scores of those selected (n = 177) were further compared with station commanders' reports of winter adaptation (n = 140), and subjective health complaints (SHC) (n = 86).\ud \ud RESULTS: There were no significant agreements between SOAP scores (n = 348) and those actually selected by the BAS panel (121 accepted, 227 not accepted) (Cohen's Kappas for inter-rater agreement < 0.20). Participants characterized as exceptionally well adapted by the station commanders had higher scores on Openness on the NEO-FFI (the "Big Five" personality inventory) [Odds Ratio (OR) = 5.2], and higher levels of Emotion-Focused Coping (OR = 2.7) and fewer SHC (OR = 0.3). Participants rated by station commanders as "poor" had higher levels of Defensive Hostility (OR = 4.2), and lower levels of Emotion-Focused Coping (OR = 0.3). Women had higher rates of success in service than men, but were less likely to be selected.\ud \ud DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Adding a psychological test battery would improve the odds of selecting good performers, and reduce the odds of selecting poor performers

Topics: Health
Publisher: Aerospace Medical Association
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:11743
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