EXPERIMENTAL ASSESSMENT OF A LIMITED SENSORY AND SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT: SUMMARY RESULTS OF THE HUMRRO PROGRAM.
GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIV ALEXANDRIA VA HUMAN RESOURCES RESEARCH OFFICE
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Experiments were designed to appraise the potency of a limited sensory and social environment. Soldier volunteers were confined for a period of four days in dark quiet cubicles which were otherwise physically comfortable. The dearth of sensory experience within the cubicle contrasted markedly with the normal sensory and social experiences of the control group subject during the same period of time. After comparing the experiences and behaviors of cubicle and control group subjects, it was concluded that dark quiet isolation can be a formidable experience. The cubicle subject evidenced feelings of boredom, restlessness, anger, stress, anxiety, disorientation and vague physical symptoms that were only rarely reported by his control group counterpart. Evidence of intellectual inefficiency in the cubicle environment was obtained, both from certain intellectual performance tests given during isolation and from retrospective evaluations of intellectual functioning, again in comparison to the control baseline. The cubicle experience was characterized by vivid and complex visual sensations during the isolation period, as compared to the control condition, although the complexity of these visual events sampled at one point in time after several days of isolation was not distinguishable from that experienced by control Ss who were placed only briefly in a darkened test room. Finally, there were some indications that the monitoring of an auditory signal was enhanced by several days of isolation, at least in comparison to the control group tested in a darkened room. Author