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Linguistic Correlates of Team Performance: Toward A Tool for Monitoring Team Functioning During Space Missions

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Fischer U, McDonnell L, Orasanu J. Linguistic correlates of team performance: toward a tool for monitoring team functioning during space missions. Aviat Space Environ Med 2007; 78:(5, Suppl.):B86–B95.

Introduction: Approaches to mitigating the likelihood of psychosocial problems during space missions emphasize preflight measures such as team training and team composition. Additionally, it may be necessary to monitor team interactions during missions for signs of interpersonal stress. The present research was conducted to identify features in team members’ communications indicative of team functioning. Methods: Team interactions were studied in the context of six computer-simulated search and rescue missions. There were 12 teams of 4 U.S. men who participated; however, the present analyses contrast the top two teams with the two least successful teams. Communications between team members were analyzed using linguistic analysis software and a coding scheme developed to characterize task-related and social dimensions of team interactions. Coding reliability was established by having two raters independently code three transcripts. Between-rater agreement ranged from 78.1 to 97.9%. Results: Team performance was significantly associated with team members’ task-related communications, specifically with the extent to which task-critical information was shared. Successful and unsuccessful teams also showed different interactive patterns, in particular concerning the frequencies of elaborations and no-responses. Moreover, task success was negatively correlated with variability in team members’ word count, and positively correlated with the number of positive emotion words and the frequency of assenting relative to dissenting responses. Conclusions: Analyses isolated certain task-related and social features of team communication related to team functioning. Team success was associated with the extent to which team members shared task-critical information, equally participated and built on each other’s contributions, showed agreement, and positive affect.
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Keywords: task-related and social aspects of team communication; team processes; team work

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2007

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