Vol 68, No 1 (2017)
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Published online: 2017-03-30

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Diving under the influence: issues in researching personality and inert gas narcosis

Charles H. Van Wijk, Jarred H. Martin, Willem A.J. Meintjes
Pubmed: 28357837
IMH 2017;68(1):52-59.


Background: This paper considers the relationship between measures of personality and mood states, and susceptibility to inert gas narcosis. It briefly reviews the topics of inert gas narcosis affecting personality, and personality affecting the susceptibility to inert gas narcosis. There appears to be is a theoretical argument for a possible relationship between measures of personality, mood states, and susceptibility to narcosis. Practically, such a relationship may speak to issues in selection, training and preparation, risk assessments, and even accident investigation in the diving and/or hyperbaric environment.

Materials and methods: Twenty one divers completed measures of personality and mood states, and were then compressed to 709 kPa (equivalent to 60 msw) in a dry compression chamber, where they completed a task measuring speed of information processing, and a scale measuring subjective narcosis.

Results and Conclusions: The main finding was the absence of any significant correlations between measures of personality traits and mood, and susceptibility to inert gas narcosis. Although the study found no evidence of any major relationship, it is presented as a case study to highlight some of the issues and pitfalls involved in such research. The lessons learned — including the careful defining and describing of concepts, and choosing of samples and measurements — are used to discuss some of the methodological and conceptual issues and future directions for researchers to consider.  


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