Creativity, Stress and Cognitive Performance

Space exploration, corporate environments, cultures of collaboration and communication

Space exploration, the colonization of the Moon, and later of Mars, challenge state-of-the-art technologies and makes international cooperation inevitable. The latter implies an imperative of international space crews. Moreover, with the growing number of prolonged space travels and unknown psychological hurdles, the role of crew teamwork, crew cohesion and creativity under stress will be even more critical for the success of a mission than it is today.

Orientation – building connections with the cosmos

Gobekli Tepe is an extraordinary site in Anatolia in times of change thousands of years ago, when the last ice sheets had retreated and when people began experimenting with new ways of life. The place defies definition, with its refined and complex architectural spaces, megalithic monumentality, and figurative sculpture connecting people with the world around them, in its tangibility and mystery.

At Gobekli Tepe we witness the organization of community effort and energy, powerful and evocative imagery, scenography and dramaturgy, a theatre setting for out-of-the-ordinary experiences, and focused on the stone stele.

Project Pillar 43

We choose Pillar 43 (“Vulture Stone”) from Gobekli Tepe as our project name. The sculptured pictograms are part of the evolution of mark making, figurative imagery and communication. The monolith may even depict a comet impact 13,000 years ago. 

The main aim of our project is to understand and define human communication as part of the creativity process. Implementing a Design Thinking methodology we are looking for a link between severe stress factors, particularly enduring physical isolation and harsh environment, and creativity performance.

PILLAR 43 is a university initiated joint project of University of Muenster, Heidelberg University, and in partnership with the JANUS Initiative at Stanford.

The outcome of the investigation will be empirically founded recommendations to improve the current Crew Resource Management guidelines. These may also be applied to business and corporate team communication.

PILLAR 43 project will, on the one hand, support and enrich existing research on human factors in extreme environments by suggesting original approaches to increase creativity performance. On the other hand, the project will provide new insights into the dynamics of cognitive behavior on individual and group levels specifically for analogous business environments. The orientation on stress, insecurity and is specifically important now, in COVID and Post-COVID times, and we hope that our research results will help to deal with current challenges.