Character Strengths: A Study of Argentinean Soldiers

Article excerpt

The primary objective of this research was to study the differences in positive traits between military and civilian college students and between cadets in their first and final years at a military academy. Second, the research aimed to study the relations between positive traits and the academic and military performance of cadets in their first and final years, according to the classification of positive traits by Peterson and Seligman (2004). To accomplish these objectives, a sample of university students from a military educational institution and a sample of civilian university students were studied. The instruments used were a 24-item self-report measure of positive traits, a measure of social desirability, and objective scores of academic and military performance. The results generally showed that when age and career stage were held constant, the scores of the military students were higher than the scores of the civilian students across various strengths. Military students reported higher levels of the character strength of spirituality than did civilian students. The relationships between strengths and performance differed for students in their first and final years at the military academy. In particular, cadets with the higher levels of academic or military performance in their last year, i.e., the cadets best adapted to the academy, reported higher levels of the character strength of persistence when compared to low-performing cadets in the same year of study.

Keywords: positive psychology, character strengths, military, civilians, performance.

Los objetivos de esta investigación fueron, por una parte, estudiar las diferencias en rasgos positivos entre estudiantes universitarios militares y civiles, y entre cadetes de primero y último año de una academia militar; y por otra, estudiar la relación entre los rasgos positivos y los rendimientos académicos y militares de cadetes de primero y de último año, siguiendo la clasificación de rasgos positivos de Peterson y Seligman (2004). Para ello se trabajó con una muestra de estudiantes universitarios de una institución militar educativa y con una muestra de estudiantes universitarios civiles. Se utilizó un autoinforme de rasgos positivos de 24 ítems, una medida de deseabilidad social y las calificaciones objetivas de los rendimientos académicos y militares. Los resultados generalmente mostraron que, equilibrados por edad y progreso en la carrera, las puntuaciones de los varones militares son más altas que las puntuaciones de los varones civiles en varias fortalezas. Se observó que los estudiantes militares muestran mayores niveles de la fortaleza espiritualidad que los estudiantes civiles. Son diferentes las relaciones entre las fortalezas y los rendimientos para primero y último año de cursada militar. Particularmente en el último curso, se observó que los cadetes de altos rendimientos académicos o militares, i. e., los cadetes con mejor adaptación a la academia, muestran mayores niveles de la fortaleza persistencia, en comparación con los cadetes de bajos rendimientos del mismo año de estudios.

Palabras clave: psicología positiva, fortalezas del carácter, militares, civiles, rendimiento.

Positive psychology is the science of subjective positive experiences, positive individual traits, and positive institutions and communities (Gable & Haidt, 2005; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Martin E. P. Seligman's 1998 presidential address to the American Psychological Association can be considered as the beginning of positive psychology (Linley, Joseph, Harrington, & Wood, 2006). In that speech, Seligman proposed using the tools of scientific research to reorient psychological science and practice towards the development of a new science of human strengths, with the objectives of identifying and understanding the aspects of psychological health and their foundations and of learning how to develop positive traits in young people (Linley et al. …