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Mum, I still want to be a Martian


How the Peter Honey Learning Styles Questionnaire may assist with the selection of Mars One candidates and help the first settlers on Mars cope with isolation problems.

Last week’s post looked at a LSQ profile and applied it to Eddie, a fictional candidate for the Mars One project, one of several ambitious enterprises trying to send humans to Mars by 2025. A further major detail is that successful Mars One applicants will be embarking on a one way journey - they won't be coming back to Earth. 


Fig 1. Eddie's LSQ Profile


The Learning Style Questionnaire (LSQ)

Based upon work by David Kolb, the Peter Honey LSQ determines one’s preferred style of learning, which is a useful way of judging potential effectiveness in a variety of workplace situations. In terms of the Mars One scenario, Eddie’s Reflector and Pragmatist styles have been examined, leaving Theorist and Activist.   


Theorist Style

The Theorist style is strong for Eddie, meaning that he may enjoy learning when he has the chance to question the logic behind something by debating or conducting research. Theorists are able to understand and participate in complex situations as they need to be intellectually stretched.

Like a Reflector, a Theorist needs time to be methodical. In a Theorist’s case, they will learn best when able to have time to explore inter relationships between ideas, events and situations.



A Theorist could struggle when involved in unstructured activities where uncertainty is high or when asked to act without proper guidelines.

They also may find it hard to participate in situations emphasising emotions and feelings, indicating that despite exhibiting a wealth of knowledge and skills useful to their fellow settlers, they may find relating to Activists or people of a lower perceived intellectual calibre difficult. This could prove to be a big problem for Eddie (and others) when part of a 40 person party on a one way trip to Mars.


Questions to ask

Will there be clear objectives and a plan to achieve them? Will I be with people of a similar calibre to myself? Will I encounter concepts that will stretch me?



Eddie’s least dominant style is Activist (27%), so the opposite to the below applies to him but a person with Activist as a dominant style would enjoy plenty of new experiences or opportunities. This is preferably in short, quick sessions involving interaction with other people.

They would thrive when there is excitement or a crisis as they enjoy being thrown in at the deep end with challenging tasks where they are able to be in the limelight. As such, an Activist can often be a useful person to have around if things need to be done or decisions made quickly.



However, Activists will find it hard to follow instructions or engage in solitary, cerebral work, such as reading, research or report writing. They also labour when asked to repeat the same task over and over, or when required to attend to detail.    

Based on his LSQ profile, Eddie is unlikely to act quickly and decisively in a crisis, take action without being thoroughly briefed or having time to weigh up all the options.       


Questions to ask

Will there be a wide range of different tasks? Will there be lots to do and plenty of chances to have fun? Will it be ok to relax (and potentially make mistakes)? Will I encounter tough problems?


A Starman waiting in the sky?

Everyone has aspects of their personality which could be construed as strengths or an area requiring development. For all of the positives associated with Eddie’s preferred styles and the benefits they may bring to the Mars One project, it becomes clear that there is plenty of scope for conflict and difficulty should certain scenarios occur.

It would be recommended therefore, that the LSQ is used to help Eddie to become aware of and address under developed styles so that he can learn, or at least appreciate and empathise with Activist traits more easily in order to maximise his effectiveness as a settler.


Matt Stevens




Learning Styles

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