Advances in Personality Assessment - Vol. 6

By James N. Butcher; Charles D. Spielberger | Go to book overview

1
Personality Profiles in the U.S. Foreign Service

Samuel Karson
Florida Institute of Technology

Jerry W. O'Dell
Eastern Michigan University

Members of the Foreign Service are among the most highly selected of all United States government employees. Only about I in 100 applicants for these positions actually obtains employment. Typically each year, some 20,000 candidates apply for and take the required entrance examinations; approximately 200 are subsequently appointed as junior Foreign Service officers. Thus the intellectual and medical screening that the candidates undergo is very rigorous indeed, and the competition for appointments is unrivalled in any other branch of the federal service.

The average American tends to have a rather romantic and unrealistic view of life and work in overseas American embassies and consulates. Life there is often fantasized as a long series of embassy parties, meetings with important dignitaries, and the like. So it comes as a surprise to many to learn that most American Foreign Service officers work long and hard at their difficult jobs. These positions or cones include political, economic, consular, and security officers; personnel and administrative officers; couriers, auditors, communicators, secretaries, physicians, nurses, and laboratory medical technicians. Some of these dedicated employees succumb to the demands of their jobs every year.

The most obvious of these stressful situations was the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-1980; other, less publicized kidnappings and terrorist activities occur from time to time. Another well-known source of stress was the falsely suspected, albeit highly publicized, bombardment with high intensity microwave radiation of the American Embassy in Moscow.

Further causes of discomfort include the very real threats to one's physical health and well being. Pernicious diseases exist in tropical countries that are

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