Psychology 2990A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 10: Military Psychology, Social Learning Theory, Standardized Test

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Chapter 10 – Military Psychology
The Nature of Conflict
We are a species that engages in violent behaviors against each other.
We assault each other as individuals, and we assault each other as groups,
whether as gangs, tribes, clans, religious groups, or nations.
War starts when we, side A, cannot agree with you, side B, over some issue, and
are unable, or unwilling, to use non-aggressive communication to resolve our
Necessary to our success is, of course, an assessment of risk and loss.
oWe must decide how much we are willing to sacrifice. (lives to be lost)
However, regardless of the victor, we want to ensure that we have the necessary
means to win another conflict – should the need arise 0 or, at least, protect and
defend what we may have left.
We will call the general context in which the planning and development of
strategies for conflict and peace, the war room.
oThe War Room exists in the real world whenever there is a conflict or a
truce, between two or more identifiable groups of people.
Many of the topics we discuss are more clearly relevant to formal military
organizations, like combat psychology and personal selection.
However, some of the topics are relevant to conflicts and truces, regardless of
the sizes of the group, such as the importance of good morale and the effects of
The Psychology of War versus Military Psychology
Psychology of War: is concerned with all elements of combat; for example,
tactics, performance fatigue, duty rotation, and weapon use.
oPsychological principles are applied within the context of a combative
environment where casualties are anticipated.
oIt concerns the highly specific topics, wherever casualties are involved.
For example, how soldiers must come immune to seeing casualties
as they will always be among them.
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Military Psychology: is much more general, and covers aspects of war and
oMilitary psychology is not so much a separate field of psychology, but
rather is defined by its area of application: military personal and
In this chapter, we discuss issues that are traditionally considered under the
general heading of military psychology, which by definition can include factors
pertaining to combative environments.
The Historical Context of Psychology and War
While the discipline of psychology may not have emerged until the late
nineteenth century, the application for psychology to war has been common
since the time of the ancients, and testimonials to this fact abound.
Sun Tzu (500 B.C.) considered open confrontation to be destructive ultimately,
and instead advocated strategic maneuvering so that you “bend others without
coming to conflict”.
oHe argued that central tactical leadership and psychological manipulation
were the elements of success.
oHe said “good leaders lure through advantages and take control through
The importance of healthy morale among soldiers was noted by the Greek
mercenary Xenophon two millennia ago: “which ever army goes into battle
stronger in soul, their enemies generally cannot withstand them”.
Centuries later, Napoleon, claimed that “Morale makes up three quarters of the
game – relative balance of manpower accounts only for the remaining quarter”.
These quotes demonstrate that concepts of tactical leadership, strategic
maneuvers, and psychological manipulation were as relevant to past generals
and leaders as they are to those operating in the twenty-first century.
oDespite the changes in technology, weaponry, and combat practices in the
modern world, we can still acknowledge that the leaders of ancient times
knew the importance of psychological principles, and used them to secure
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victory and maintain peace, just as their modern, military counterparts
continue to do so.
Case Study: The Intimate Relationship between Technology and War
Technology has been part of war since war existed.
People used metal for armor for many years, Iron was first used, and then
bronze. Then back to chainmail and full body armor, however, most people just
used leather and skins as protective gear as they could afford them.
Gunpowder was developed in around 1500s, as well as the architectural mastery
of shipbuilding.
The technological developments in explosives, aircrafts, and shops such as
submarines transformed the nature of war, particularly in the twentieth century,
culminating in the nuclear bomb.
The use of drones has dramatically changed twenty-first century combat.
oIt’s argued to reduce the number of casualties and facilitates combat in
areas and zones that otherwise might not be accessible.
oUnfortunately, the disadvantages include excessive collateral damage to
civilian life, and the relative ease with which anyone can develop crude
drones, make them readily available to any government or terrorist group.
Assessment, Selection and Training
Task Analyses: in order to ensure that the right soldier is selected for the right
military task.
The First World War
World War 1 was the starting point for military psychology as the allied military
forces needed fast answers to important questions.
oNot everybody is equally suited to join an army.
oNot everyone is equally well suited to do the same job.
Even though this may have been common knowledge, the military still had the
practical problem of discovering, in an efficient and speedy manner, the recruits
who were unfit for military service.
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