The third quarter phenomenon refers to the decline in performance during the third quarter of missions in isolated, confined, and extreme environments, regardless of actual mission duration. This can be observed through changes in cognitive and interpersonal behavior, and an increase in reported negative experiences and undesirable mood states. This effect has been studied in polar and space missions, but there are no available reports on it during submarine missions. This study provides an additional analysis of previously published data that were collected during a conventional submarine patrol mission, to consider whether a stage-model of adaptation (in particular a third quarter effect) could be observed. It used data on coping—specifically the self-reported endorsement of coping activities during a submarine deployment—to achieve this. While the data could be interpreted as supporting a third quarter effect, they also reflected a general decline in individual well-being across mission duration. However, the decline was relatively small in real terms, and may not reflect meaningful changes in affect or performance. Practically, this could be useful for optimizing coping across mission duration, through enabling realistic preparation and developing mission-specific interventions.
Van Wijk, Charles H.
"Coping During Conventional Submarine Missions: Evidence of a Third Quarter Phenomenon?,"
Journal of Human Performance in Extreme Environments: Vol. 14
Available at: https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/jhpee/vol14/iss1/12