Methodological Foundations of Military Psychology and Psychological Security

By Zinchenko, Yury P.; Veraksa, Aleksandr N. et al. | Psychology in Russia, January 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Methodological Foundations of Military Psychology and Psychological Security


Zinchenko, Yury P., Veraksa, Aleksandr N., Leonov, Sergey, V, Psychology in Russia


Military psychology can be defined as an area of the study and application of psychological principles and methods to the military environment (Mangelsdorff & Gal, 1991). C. Cronin compares military psychology with a microcosm which embraces psychological disciplines and which affects almost all aspects of military setting (Cronin, 2003).

G.P. Krueger distinguishes the following aspects of psychological research in military settings: 1) recruitment, selection, placement, training and retention of military personnel; 2) prediction and enhancement of combatant performance in harsh environments; 3) human engineering design of complex weapon systems for effective use by soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines; 4) training procedures to mold well-honed military teams by maximizing specialized differential skills to permit success on tough missions; 5) soldier coping mechanisms for deployment to foreign lands, or to carry out extended hours of work, or to work in austere conditions; 6) soldier's abilities to adjust to countless intricacies of military life-style; 7) collection and interpretation of large amounts of behavioural and psychological data to assist military leaders and civilian authorities in making smart decisions and informed policies that affect millions of military members and their families; 8) providing advice on integrating people of diverse ethnic and social backgrounds into the workplace.

Methodology of military psychology is inseparably linked wiThformation of psychological and military science. There is a transition in development of military psychology from classical to postclassical type of rationality. In the first place classical psychological science is aimed at providing knowledge and involves the exclusion of the psychological cognition of personal values and goals as factors affecting the objectivity of knowledge. In early works devoted to military psychology the influence of associative psychology is clearly traced. Thus, A. Zykov reasoning about foundations of human awareness of his/her behaviour gives the dominant role of force sensations, ideas, process of associations, irradiation of sensation tone. In a similar paradigm the research was conducted by N.I. Bondarev in 1920. The purpose of it was to study combat experience of soldiers who received minor injuries. N.I. Bondarev conducted 229 associative experiments in which soldiers described their feelings, the nature of associations, their rate of occurrence etc. Without concentrating on these findings we will note the fact of the reference to the personalities of the soldiers who had experience in actual combat operations. Formulation of the problem of studying the personality of a warrior required a different approach.

The classical ideal of rationality is presented by physiological researches in military sphere. In 1920-30s the behavioural tendencies appeared in military psychology, for example, the studying of psychophysiological features of soldiers' behaviour and their emotional reactions. In his work "Foundations of military psychology" H. Hahanyan described the physiological shift s under such cognitions as fear, panic and formulated the principles of military training. A. Talankin emphasizes the role of self-awareness during the combat, however, he focuses attention on J. Watson's research of understanding the emotions of fear and anger.

Non-classical psychological science introduced new criteria of cognition: necessity to consider the method used to obtain data, the adoption of relativism in reference of existing scientific paradigms. It stresses the dependence of the resulting knowledge from the social context and a number of other factors that regulate the organization of complex self-regulating systems. According to V.S. Stepin "if within the mechanical picture of the world the things (bodies) served as something primary, e.g. a substrate, processes would be interpreted as the effect of one thing to another by transfer of power that in a new system of representations of every thing appeared as procedural system, self-reproducing as a result of its interaction with the environment and through self-regulation". …

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