UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Extreme teams : coping and motive imagery of small, mission-oriented teams in extreme and unusual environments Brcic, Jelena


Humans are motivated to explore, investigate, and learn about the world around them; in the process of doing so, some groups work and live in environments described as extreme and unusual. Using thematic content analysis, the goal of this dissertation was to better understand coping strategies (Folkman & Lazarus, 1980) and motive images (Winter, 1994) expressed in narratives of four highly skilled groups: astronauts, high-altitude mountaineers, search and rescue (SAR) crews, and small military combat units. Taken together, the findings provided insight into the similarities and differences among groups that work in extreme environments. All four teams relied on problem-focused compared to emotion-focused coping strategies. Soldiers were least likely to mention Planful Problem Solving and most likely to mention Supernatural Protection and Confrontation when compared to the other groups; on the other hand, mountaineers were least likely to mention Seeking Social Support and most likely to mention Self-Control. In relation to motive imagery, all four groups were primarily motivated by need for Achievement, followed by need for Affiliation and need for Power. Soldiers had the highest level of all three motives; astronauts and SAR crews do not differ on any of the three. Differences across occupational and environment type, leadership status, gender, and mission phases were examined. The study provided the first empirical evidence, across mission phases, on how high-altitude mountaineers and SAR crews cope with problems and express their motives. Implications of the research, limitations, and possible future directions were discussed.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


CC0 1.0 Universal