PSYCHOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF WATER IMMERSION STUDIES
Rept. no. 7
NAVAL AIR DEVELOPMENT CENTER WARMINSTER PA AVIATION MEDICAL ACCELERATION LAB
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This report reviews the recent water immersion literature, placing special emphasis on the psychological aspects of these studies. The adequacy of water immersion as a technique for simulating weightlessness is discussed and its disadvantages are reviewed. Water immersion facilities and procedures are described and it was found that the wide variation in procedures brings about difficulties in comparing results. The areas of perceptual and motor performance, boredom and fatigue, sleep, orientation, and personality and emotional aspects of water immersion were selected as being of special psychological interest. A seven-day immersion study demonstrated a gross disruption of psychomotor performance, after the subject came out of the water. Studies of less duration showed no significant decrement in psychomotor performance, except for certain perceptual-motor tasks involving arm movements, where the disruption of the normal kinesthetic feedback was thought to be an important contributing factor. The studies also demonstrated that boredom is a factor which must be considered in immersion studies, but that subjects were able to tolerate boredom by sleeping or keeping active. Fatigue was found to be detrimental to performance in a seven day immersion study.