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This story was from the 1960s or earlier, read in a hardbound collection of stories, possibly all from one magazine.

The spaceship was large and sent on first contact missions. It had several different environments for different species of intelligent life in the crew. When they met a new species, members of the species most like them would pretend to be in command, to make the new aliens feel more comfortable during meetings and negotiations.

  • Sounds like James White's style, but if so not one I've read. Unless its part of 'Federation World' which I read to long ago now to confirm. [I know questioner says short story, but it could be part of a fix up]. Or Murray Leinster? – Simon Bucher-Jones Dec 6 '17 at 20:42
  • It does sound like White. Maybe a memory of the Sector General stories? – Dosco Jones Dec 8 '17 at 18:15
  • No. It could have been by James White or evn in the sEctor general universe, but it was not set at Sector General. It was read in a hard bound anthology of stories, possibly stories from a single magazine. It was set aboard a starship for exploration and first contacts, not a medical.space station. Non of the characters were doctors as far as I remember. – M. A. Golding Dec 13 '17 at 6:55

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