Research Topic

Creative Performance in Extreme Human Environments: Astronauts and Space

About this Research Topic

As humans expand on their exploration of the universe, the need to understand creative performance in extreme human environments increases. Future deep space missions, such as to Mars, will have no direct contact with earth. Therefore, astronauts need to rely on their own creative skills to survive. Environments in space differ from environments on Earth, resulting in significant psychological consequences. Within a multivariate theory of creativity, the environment contributes to creative potential. However, there is still a gap in research on how more extreme human environments and related psychological factors influence creative potential. Existing research focuses on cognitive and social-emotional factors in relatively moderate human environments. A focus on extreme environments will not only enhance our understanding of fostering and developing skills, but also of unleashing creative skills in general.

This new research area is substantiated by existing studies on space-related issues that astronauts frequently encounter, such as extreme temperatures and social isolation. This Research Topic aims to relate this to findings within the domain of creativity research, thereby opening a new avenue for future research. We particularly encourage contributions focusing on cultural, cognitive, and social-emotional issues.

The following are examples of creativity and space-related issues, which this Research Topic aims to review:

1) Temperatures of the space environment:
Research shows that the temperature in space has a cognitive impact, particularly on affect and selective attention. Both emotion and attention play a crucial role in the creative process.

2) Astronaut's circadian rhythm in space:
Studies show that a disrupted circadian rhythm results in irritability, and loss of concentration, and motivation. How does this impact creative motivation?

3) Astronaut's overwhelming emotions in space:
Do overwhelming emotions, and `a sense of wonder', have a positive or negative effect on creative performance?

4) Astronaut's collaborative creativity in confined spaces and conflict resolution:
Wellbeing studies indicate that collaborative creative processes might enhance conflict resolution or vice versa.

5) Multicultural astronaut/cosmonaut teams:
The new field of cultural differences in creativity is related to cultural differences in emotions. Multicultural teams might differ in abilities of finding creative solutions, and outcomes might differ as well.

6) Effect of isolation on emotional regulation during long duration flights:
Emotion regulation is at the core of the creative process. How does the space environment influence emotion regulation and therefore creative potential?

Insights on human creative potential in space can be transferred and applied to multiple other situations. Examples include accidents when mine workers are trapped underground, when people are trapped in a cave, or war zones. Less extreme environments could be experienced in education in classrooms, for example by individual students, minorities, including immigrants, or by low social-economic background students. Finally, environmental disasters already today create human extreme environments on earth. By investigating creative potential in space, we might add to insights how creativity can be unleashed and fostered, not only in extreme environments. The theoretical insights can be applied in multiple more and less extreme human environments, where creative skills are needed.


Keywords: Creativity, Performance, Extreme Environments, Astronaut, Space, Cognition, Emotion


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

As humans expand on their exploration of the universe, the need to understand creative performance in extreme human environments increases. Future deep space missions, such as to Mars, will have no direct contact with earth. Therefore, astronauts need to rely on their own creative skills to survive. Environments in space differ from environments on Earth, resulting in significant psychological consequences. Within a multivariate theory of creativity, the environment contributes to creative potential. However, there is still a gap in research on how more extreme human environments and related psychological factors influence creative potential. Existing research focuses on cognitive and social-emotional factors in relatively moderate human environments. A focus on extreme environments will not only enhance our understanding of fostering and developing skills, but also of unleashing creative skills in general.

This new research area is substantiated by existing studies on space-related issues that astronauts frequently encounter, such as extreme temperatures and social isolation. This Research Topic aims to relate this to findings within the domain of creativity research, thereby opening a new avenue for future research. We particularly encourage contributions focusing on cultural, cognitive, and social-emotional issues.

The following are examples of creativity and space-related issues, which this Research Topic aims to review:

1) Temperatures of the space environment:
Research shows that the temperature in space has a cognitive impact, particularly on affect and selective attention. Both emotion and attention play a crucial role in the creative process.

2) Astronaut's circadian rhythm in space:
Studies show that a disrupted circadian rhythm results in irritability, and loss of concentration, and motivation. How does this impact creative motivation?

3) Astronaut's overwhelming emotions in space:
Do overwhelming emotions, and `a sense of wonder', have a positive or negative effect on creative performance?

4) Astronaut's collaborative creativity in confined spaces and conflict resolution:
Wellbeing studies indicate that collaborative creative processes might enhance conflict resolution or vice versa.

5) Multicultural astronaut/cosmonaut teams:
The new field of cultural differences in creativity is related to cultural differences in emotions. Multicultural teams might differ in abilities of finding creative solutions, and outcomes might differ as well.

6) Effect of isolation on emotional regulation during long duration flights:
Emotion regulation is at the core of the creative process. How does the space environment influence emotion regulation and therefore creative potential?

Insights on human creative potential in space can be transferred and applied to multiple other situations. Examples include accidents when mine workers are trapped underground, when people are trapped in a cave, or war zones. Less extreme environments could be experienced in education in classrooms, for example by individual students, minorities, including immigrants, or by low social-economic background students. Finally, environmental disasters already today create human extreme environments on earth. By investigating creative potential in space, we might add to insights how creativity can be unleashed and fostered, not only in extreme environments. The theoretical insights can be applied in multiple more and less extreme human environments, where creative skills are needed.


Keywords: Creativity, Performance, Extreme Environments, Astronaut, Space, Cognition, Emotion


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

22 June 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

22 June 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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