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

"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 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 Lüdtke, and Ulrich Trautwein of the University of TUbingen in Germany.

Jackson used data on German 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 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 . 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.


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mvg
Nov 18, 2011
"Be all that you can be"?--
--Is THAT really all that you can be?

When you train millions of men how to commit murder--it is unlikely that you will improve society.

Nov 18, 2011
"Be all that you can be"?--
--Is THAT really all that you can be?

When you train millions of men how to commit murder--it is unlikely that you will improve society.


Yes, shame on those Germans for defending their borders!

mvg
Nov 19, 2011
"Be all that you can be"?--
--Is THAT really all that you can be?

When you train millions of men how to commit murder--it is unlikely that you will improve society.

Yes, shame on those Germans for defending their borders!

Good to see that you get the point--they ALL use the same EXCUSE--DEFENSE. BOTH sides always have some plausible reason--but it is only a thin fabrication.

It has been the same since the days of the Assyrian Empire, the Peloponnesian War, Julius Caesar's genocide in Gaul, the rape of native peoples by the European powers during the "age of exploration", and up to the present day. (Did they REALLY have valid cause to invade: Vietnam?--Only years later do we learn what went on behind the scenes--).


mvg
Nov 19, 2011
Oh yes , did I mention--- the ultimate excuse:
God is always on "our" (both) side.

Nov 19, 2011
Chose wisely and go to Liechtenstein where the military was abolish in 1868, the language is German, and the crime rate the lowest in the world.


Lousy example. They abolished the army because they have treaties with other nations for their protection. They do maintain a national police force for order, which amounts to the same thing. As for the crime rate. Yes, it's low. But, they dump off inmates with sentences over 2 years to Austria.

Liechtenstein exists solely because it made some backroom deals with other, larger, more powerful countries WITH ARMIES.

Nov 19, 2011
"Be all that you can be"?--
--Is THAT really all that you can be?

When you train millions of men how to commit murder--it is unlikely that you will improve society. ...

It has been the same since the days of the Assyrian Empire, the Peloponnesian War, Julius Caesar's genocide in Gaul, the rape of native peoples by the European powers during the "age of exploration", and up to the present day. (Did they REALLY have valid cause to invade: Vietnam?--Only years later do we learn what went on behind the scenes--).


In your desire for a permanent peace (judging from your post), which is an honorable goal, you are confusing two things:

1) Soldiers.

2) Politicians.

Soldiers do not start wars, or play political games with the lives of men. This is an action of politicians. Your disdain and lack of respect for soldiers is not only misplaced, it is entirely unjustified.

Nov 19, 2011
Many soldiers, some of whom I've personally had the honor of being able to call "friend", are among the most respectable, intelligent, kind, compassionate, brave and decent people on this planet. It is a travesty for the uninformed to make the mistake of attributing to soldiers the often wicked deeds of their political masters.

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

The answer, of course, is yes.

Nov 19, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

mvg
Nov 19, 2011
"Soldiers do not start wars, or play political games with the lives of men. This is an action of politicians. Your disdain and lack of respect for soldiers is not only misplaced, it is entirely unjustified."

Granted--soldiers are exploited by politicians--and have been for a very long time (Go to the British Museum and examine the artifact that they call "the standard of UR"--2000 BC----which is one of the very first depictions of this sort of exploitation)

However, as the philosophers say: "no man can harm you without your consent"

As you say:
"It is a travesty for the uninformed to make the mistake of attributing to soldiers the often wicked deeds of their political masters."

But frequently they do become (even unwittingly) accomplices in those wicked deeds. How many young Germans sincerely thought that they were doing something noble, even something sanctioned and blessed by their clergy, when they fought for Hitler?


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