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Doug Hazlewood

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Military Psychology
The Nature of Conflict
The general context where the planning and development of strategies for conflict and peace
occur is called the war room
The Psychology of War vs. Military Psychology
Psychology of war is concerned with all elements of combat (tactics, performance fatigue,
weapon use etc.)
Psychological principles are applied to the combative environment where causalities are
Deals with very specific topics (dealing with the death of a close comrade)
Military psychology is much more general and covers aspects of war and peace
“The application of psychological principles and methods and military needs”
Field of application is military personnel and organizations
Effects of the combat environment on the solider, and research regarding the effects of
present environmental factors (having family members on the base)
Historical context of psychology and war
Application of psychology to war has been present since ancient times
Sun Tzu: Open confrontation is destructive “Good leaders lure through advantages and
take control through confusion”
Xenophon: Greek mercenary who stressed the importance of morale among soldiers
Napoleon: Morale makes up three-quarters of the game
Assessment, S election and T raining
The First World War
Military had the problem of quickly and efficiently discovering recruits who were unfit for duty
Psychologist’s used task analysis to assess the recruit’s abilities and give them appropriate jobs
Could not guarantee the reliability or validity of the tests
Bartlett: Easy to devise tests to identify the unfit, hard to be confident in decisions about the fit
Person’s temperament is a factor that should be considered
Robert Yerkes in WWI: Developed a selection programme
Army Examinations Alpha for literate recruits
Army Examinations Beta for illiterate recruits
Roots of organizational and occupational psychology
The Second World War
Technological advances made allocation (matching recruits to appropriate jobs) took priority
WWI: Major model of learning was through vicarious learning (apprenticeship)
More successful with repeat opportunities to learn and not under stress
Military training has two major goals:
Equip the recruit with some mastery of the skills necessary to perform his military duties
Prepare the recruit for the conditions of war
Feedback improves performances Quick-kill training method (silhouettes pop up)
The Korean War
Understood that careful selection and training could dramatically improve the effectiveness of
Marshall: Only a proportion of men actually fire against the enemy (15-30 %)
If the right people are in the right positions, the killing effectiveness could be increased
Human Resource Research Office (HRRO) conducted reliable research
Who Makes a Good Fighter?
HRRO focused on identifying two groups of soldiers to compare: good fighters and poor fighters
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Based on verbal reports, commendations, first-hand reports from other men
Good fighters exposed themselves to enemy fire more than poor fighter
They assumed leadership, engaged in aggressive aces outside the normal role (attacking
offensively), or performed a supporting role (protecting injured soldiers before medics come)
Poor fighters physically and psychologically withdrew from battle, showed signs of mental
dissociation and broke down
Good fighters:
scored high in terms of leadership, poise, spontaneity, extroversion, independence
Also more likely to engage in adventurous activities and body-contact sports
Differences in masculinity
Higher intelligence and preferred witty and sarcastic humour
More emotionally stable
NOTE: Task Maintenance
How often does a person need a refresher course in order to maintain his level of skill
Answer involves three things:
Tasks analyses must be performed to determine the necessary skills required
Breakdown of the rates at which these components are learned
Breakdown of the rats at which these components are forgotten
NOTE: Problems with Reliability and Validity
Possibility of covariability of the tests employed
May simply be measuring different components of the same factor
Whenever there is a large number of tests, researchers must be concerned with increases in
experiment-wise error rates
The more tests we take, the more likely it is that we will accept a finding as significant by
chance alone
Who Makes a Good Leader?
WWII: Creative procedures adopted to determine a candidate’s leadership and common qualities
like problem-solving situations (giving them real-life scenarios)
“Make your way across a shark-infested river using only...”
Successful and still used today
After WWII: More concerned with the psychological characteristics
Aggressive, good at problem-solving, communicate clearly and justify reasons for
commands, rewards good performance, helps solve problems in the group, and uses his
subordinates skills to their best effect
Non-combat leadership and combat leadership required different characteristics
Non-combat leader: rigid with the rules, athletic, physically imposing, tactful
NOTE: Are Leaders Born or Made?
Genetic factors or environmental factors
Monozygotic twins (identical twins) reared together show greater similarities than dyzygotic
reared together
Identical twins reared together show greater similarities in achievement than identical twins who
are reared apart
A combination of both nature and nurture is the answer
Morale and the Fighting Spirit
Study of morale did not emerge until well into the Second World War
Components of Morale
Physical and situational factors that will affect a soldier’s morale
Physical: Environmental (climate), or institutional (tactics)
Psychological factors also contribute (emotional, physical, mental)
Physical state (vitality) affected by food, sleep deprivation, arousal level
Hot cognitions are the beliefs that a person holds that will affect their morale
If the soldier agrees with the reasons for the war then he will be more motivated to fight
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