Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Does the military make the man or does the man make the military?

Date:
January 26, 2012
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
"Be all you can be," the Army tells potential recruits. The military promises personal reinvention. But does it deliver? A new study finds that personality does change a little after military service -- German conscripts come out of the military less agreeable than their peers who chose civilian service.

"Be all you can be," the Army tells potential recruits. The military promises personal reinvention. But does it deliver? A new study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that personality does change a little after military service -- German conscripts come out of the military less agreeable than their peers who chose civilian service.

It's hard to do long-term studies on how personalities change. Besides taking many years, a challenge to overcome is that many experiences that could change personality are self-selected, and thus many social, psychological and economic differences exist between people who had the experience versus those that did not. "It makes a researcher's job tough," jokes Joshua J. Jackson, now at Washington University in St. Louis, "but there are some methods to safeguard against such bias." He cowrote the new study with Felix Thoemmes, Kathrin Jonkmann, Oliver Lόdtke, and Ulrich Trautwein of the University of Tόbingen in Germany.

Jackson used data on German men who were in high school at the time the study started. At that time, about 10 years ago, all German men had to either serve in the military for nine months or perform some other kind of civilian service.

First, he looked at the men's personalities before their national service to see if personality predicted the decision to enter the military. Men who chose to serve in the military were less open to experience -- they are less likely to be interested in novel and aesthetic experiences like going to an art museum, for example. They were less neurotic, or inclined to worry. And they were less agreeable -- "less warm and cooperative, interpersonally," Jackson says.

The men were given personality tests again two years later, after they had finished their military or civilian service. Most people's personalities change at this age; it's normal to become more agreeable and more conscientious, and for neuroticism to decrease. Jackson saw those changes in all the men. But men who chose to go into the military, while they were more agreeable two years later than they'd been before, were less agreeable than their peers who didn't do military service. Four years later, after many of the men had gone on to university or into the work force, they were still less agreeable if they'd spent nine months in the military.

How agreeable you are has a lot to do with how well you relate to other people -- "establishing and maintaining positive relationships with friends and romantic partners," Jackson says. "as such, having low levels of agreeableness may be considered a bad thing." On the other hand, some evidence suggests that people who are less agreeable tend to have more career success.

"I cannot say if it's good or bad, but it shows that these individuals -- who, by and large, did not face any combat -- had experiences in basic training that likely shaped the way they approach the world," Jackson says. "The changes in personality were small, but over time, they could have important ramifications for the men's lives," he says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Does the military make the man or does the man make the military?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120125132812.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2012, January 26). Does the military make the man or does the man make the military?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120125132812.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Does the military make the man or does the man make the military?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120125132812.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) — With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) — British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) — Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — The Peace Corps is one of several U.S.-based organizations to pull workers out of West Africa because of the Ebola outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins