To test the common assumption that being part of an isolated group in the polar winter represents an anxiety-arousing environment, trait and state anxiety levels were measured in two Argentine stations in Antarctica and two Canadian sites in the High Arctic. The group scores were compared with each other, with comparison groups drawn from the same population as the polar teams but not working in isolated polar stations, and with available norms. Anxiety levels were about the same in both isolated crews, and showed no differences from the comparison groups. Data from Argentine subects showed some differences from published U.S. norms. A sub-sample of the Antarctic comparison group was retested twice in the Antarctic during the following year. No significant changes were found in either state or trait anxiety. The data support the view that even environments that appear to be dramatically stressful cannot be assumed to have pervasive negative effects; one must look at how the individuals in the environment actually experience it.
Mocellin, Jane S.; Suedfeld, Peter; Bernadelz, Jorge P.; and Barbarito, Marta E.
"Levels of Anxiety in Polar Environments,"
Journal of Human Performance in Extreme Environments:
1, Article 3.