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2 Theoretical Approaches As noted in Chapter 1, research is concept driven and shaped by the questions being asked and the variables being investigated. It is difficult to discuss research strategies for effectively designing and evaluating programs to increase enlistments without also considering theories about the core variables that impact enlistment decisions. Theo- ries of enlistment behavior are diverse and have been influenced heavily by the disciplines of economics, sociology, and psychology. Not surpris- ingly, the kinds of variables emphasized and the research designs chosen to explore these variables differ somewhat from one discipline to another. For example, social-psychological theories of enlistment behavior tend to emphasize micro-level variables focused on characteristics of the indi- vidual and individual decision-making processes (relying on such con- structs as beliefs, attitudes, perceived social pressures, and behavioral intentions), whereas economic theories tend to emphasize macro-level variables focused on such constructs as recruitment resources, the general state of the economy, wages, and work opportunities in military and civilian sectors. There is no single "correct" level of theorizing. Some theories are better poised to answer some questions than others and the level of theorizing is dictated, in part, by the particular question at hand. When considering the impact of an incentive program or advertising campaign on enlistments, it is important to understand how that program or campaign affects key variables that govern the career choices of American youth. A major purpose of this chapter is to identify such variables. Our intent is not to present a comprehensive theory of enlistment behavior but rather to delimit the kinds of variables that program designers and adver- 18
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THEORETICAL APPROACHES 19 tisers should be thinking about as they develop campaigns to increase enlistments. More focused questions can be explored using the research strategies and techniques outlined in later chapters. In its Phase I report, Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth, the committee outlined a general theory of enlistment behavior (see National Research Council, 2003, Chapter 7~. We begin by briefly reviewing this theory and then elaborate on it to incorporate additional perspectives from economics and research on adolescent development. We then describe how the identified variables can be incorporated into the design and evaluation of programs and advertising campaigns aimed at increasing enlistments, drawing on both the theoretical work reviewed as well as facets of communication theory. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK FOR ENLISTMENT BEHAVIOR Perspectives from Behavioral Theory The general theory offered by the committee in its previous report is reproduced in Figure 2-1. This integrative framework is based on several empirically supported theories of behavior and behavior change. These include the health belief model (Becker, 1974, 1988; Rosenstock, Strecher and Becker, 1994), the theory of reasoned action (Ajzen and Fishbein, 1980), social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1991, 1994), and the theory of planned behavior (Azj en, 1985, 1991~. According to the framework, whether or not someone enlists in the military (the "behavior" variable in Figure 2-1) is a direct function of the person's intention to enlist: if a person does not intend to enlist in the military, he or she probably will not do so. If the person intends to enlist in the military, he or she probably will do so. The concept of intention maps roughly onto the construct of "propensity to enlist," a variable frequently encountered in the research literature on enlistments. The theory offered by the committee explicitly recognizes that intentions do not always translate into behavior. Sometimes people state a negative intention to enlist but, with time, end up enlisting in the military. Others fully intend to enlist in the military but fail to ever do so. Two classes of variables affect whether a person's intention or pro- pensity to enlist translates into enlistment behavior. One class of variables concerns environmental factors that either facilitate or prevent the person from carrying out his or her intention. Examples of environmental con- straints include long distances from recruitment or enlistment centers, factors that preclude access to such centers, lack of recruiter activity, and lack of recruiter effort. Examples of facilitators include the presence of recruiters, high levels of recruiter effort, and different kinds of recruiter activities. The second class of variables that influences if intentions trans-
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20 Demographics & Culture Other Individual Difference Variables (perceived risk) EVALUATING MILITARY ADVERTISING AND RECRUITING Hi:/ 'my' f:f rff~rff~rff1 FIGURE 2-1 Determinants of behavior. SOURCE: Reproduced from Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth. late into behavior is whether the individual has the requisite qualifica- tions, skills, and abilities to perform the behavior. For example, a person may have a strong intention to enlist in the military, but if he or she cannot graduate from high school or cannot pass the requisite physical exam, then an enlistment will not result irrespective of the presence of a strong intention. Despite these moderating influences, intentions to enlist tend to be good predictors of enlistment behavior (e.g., Bachman, Segal, Freedman- Doan, and O'Malley, 1998~. Thus, it is of key interest to understand what factors cause some individuals to have positive intent with respect to enlisting in the military and others to have negative intent. Determinants of Intentions to Enlist According to Figure 2-1, there are three immediate determinants of a person's intention to enlist. The first is how favorable or unfavorable the individual feels about enlisting, that is, the individual's personal attitude toward enlisting. In general, the more favorable an individual feels about
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THEORETICAL APPROACHES 21 enlisting in the military, the more likely it is that he or she will intend to do so. Although many people base their decisions exclusively on such personal attitudes, others take into account what people important to them are doing and their perception of what those important others think they should do. For example, although a young man may have a highly favorable attitude toward enlisting in the military, he may not do so because of strong resistance and disapproval from his mother. Thus, a second class of variables that can impact the intention to enlist is the normative pressures that are brought to bear on the individual. In general, the more a person sees important others as being supportive of a decision to enlist in the military, the more likely it is that the person will intend to enlist in the military. Such normative influences are the hall- mark of many sociological theories of behavior (Bakken, 2002~. The third class of variables that influence intent concerns self-efficacy, that is, whether the individual believes he or she can, in fact, perform the behavior. Even though a person may have a positive personal attitude toward enlisting and even though important others may support that decision, if the person does not think he or she will be successful in attempts to join the military, then she or he will not even bother trying. These three variables attitudes, norms, and self-efficacy represent core influences on intentions to enlist (see Chapter 3 for additional discussion). The model in Figure 2-1 also identifies the immediate determinants of each of these three variables. We now consider these determinants. Determinants of Attitudes Someone's personal attitude toward enlisting (i.e., how favorable or unfavorable the person feels about enlisting) is said to be a function of the individual's behavioral beliefs and outcome evaluations associated with those beliefs (Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975; Ajzen and Fishbein, 1980~. To elaborate, individuals perceive certain advantages and disadvantages of enlisting in the military. A given perceived advantage or disadvantage has two components. First, there is an expectancy, which refers to how likely the individual thinks it is that enlisting in the military will, in fact, lead to the advantage or disadvantage in question. For example, a pos- sible advantage of pursuing a career in the military might be that one will acquire a useful job skill for later in life. The expectancy in this case, also called a behavioral belief, is the subjective probability on the part of the individual that the person, in fact, will acquire a useful job skill for later in life if she or he enlists in the military. The second component is an outcome evaluation. This refers to how positive or negative the advantage or disadvantage is perceived as being. Some advantages are thought to be more positive than others and some
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22 EVALUATING MILITARY ADVERTISING AND RECRUITING disadvantages are thought to be more negative than others. The indi- vidual's perception of the degree of positivity or negativity of a given consequence is also important to take into account. These perceptions derive from the individual's more fundamental value system, which ulti- mately determines the worth that he or she ascribes to the different out- comes and consequences. Individuals perceive multiple advantages and disadvantages of enlist- ing. For each of m consequences potentially associated with enlisting, there will be a behavioral belief (i.e., subjective probability or expectancy) and an outcome evaluation. The overall attitude toward enlisting in the military is some function of these multiple expectancies and values: Attitude =f (b,, b2, bm, eel e2,. . . em) where Attitude is the overall favorability/unfavorability toward enlist- ing, b is a subjective probability that enlisting in the military will, in fact, lead to consequence m, and e is how positive or negative consequence m is perceived as being. Psychologists, sociologists, and decision theorists are in disagreement about the nature of the function relating behavioral beliefs and outcomes to attitudes (Anderson, 1996; Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975; Hastie and Dawes, 2001), but as a general rule, individuals will have more positive attitudes if they perceive enlisting in the military as definitely leading to highly positively consequences and definitely not leading to negative consequences. Individuals will have more negative attitudes if they perceive enlisting as definitely leading to highly negative conse- quences and definitely not leading to positive consequences. Determinants of Normative Support A second potentially relevant determinant of the intention to enlist is the social and normative pressure one feels to enlist or not to enlist. Two types of normative influence potentially contribute to this social pressure: injunctive norms and descriptive norms (Cialdini, 2003~. Injunctive norms refer to perceptions of what important others think the individual should do with respect to enlisting. Descriptive norms refer to perceptions of base rates, or how many of one's peers are performing the behavior. Injunctive norms reflect whether important others approve or disap- prove of the individual's enlisting. According to Figure 2-1, perceptions of such approval or disapproval are reflective of or determined by the perceptions of the opinions of specific referents, such as one's mother, one's father, or one's boyfriend or girlfriend. There are multiple referents who may have an opinion about what the individual should do, and these
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THEORETICAL APPROACHES 23 referents may have conflicting opinions. The overall normative pressure to enlist or not enlist is some function of these differing opinions: NP =f (Nib, NB2, .... NBk) where NP is the overall normative pressure to enlist and NBk is the strength of the opinion of referent k, as perceived by the individual, that the individual should or should not enlist in the military. The various NBs are called normative beliefs (see Figure 2-1~. Many theorists argue that it is important to take into account the individual's motivation to comply with a given referent (Fishbein and Amen, 1975~. A relevant referent may have a strong opinion about what the individual should do, but if the individual has little motivation to comply with or please that referent, then the overall normative pressure felt by the individual will be lessened. Thus, we modify the above expres- sion to reflect motivations to comply with referents, such that NP =f (Nib, NB2, .... NBk, ACE, MC2, .... MCk), where MCk is the motivation to comply with referent k and all other terms are as previously defined. In general, people perceive a more supportive normative environment for enlisting if others who are important to them unanimously agree that they should pursue a career in the military and the individual is highly motivated to comply with those others. The second type of normative influence, descriptive norms, has been identified as an important determinant of behavior in the literature on adolescent development (e.g., Borsari and Carey, 2003~. Descriptive norms refer to perceptions of how many of one's peers are pursuing the choice option in question (e.g., most of my friends are enlisting, only a few of my friends are enlisting, or none of my friends is enlisting). There are differ- ent base rates for different referent groups. For example, the rate of enlist- ment might be different for one's close friends, one's general circle of friends, the people at one's high school, the people in one's community, and the nation as a whole. The overall base rate factor, BRF, is some function of these more specific group base rates: BRF =f (BRA, BR2, .... BRk) where BRF is the overall base rate factor for choosing a given career option, and BRk is the perceived base rate of choosing the option for group k. The social psychological literature on base rates is complex: some- times higher base rates lead to increases in behavioral intent, and some-
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24 EVALUATING MILITARY ADVERTISING AND RECRUITING times lower base rates do. A useful theory for understanding the impact of base rates on behavior is deviance regulation theory (Blanton and Christie, 2003~. Determinants of Self-Efficacy The third primary determinant of the intention to enlist is the extent to which a person feels he or she can be successful at enlisting given that the effort is made to do so (Ajzen, 1991~. The primary determinants of global judgment of self-efficacy are perceptions of the obstacles that im- pede enlistment and one's judged ability (or perceived power) to over- come those obstacles. For example, an obstacle to enlisting might be that of obtaining a high school diploma, and an individual may be uncertain of his or ability to overcome this obstacle. Individuals may perceive mul- tiple obstacles. Associated with each obstacle is a belief that the obstacle can be overcome. The overall judged self-efficacy is some function of these perceptions: SE =f (0~, O2, °n) where SE is the overall judged efficacy for enlisting, and O is the judged likelihood of overcoming obstacle n. In sum, each of the three core determinants of intentions to enlist have a set of immediate determinants themselves. The person's attitude toward enlisting is influenced by his or her behavioral beliefs and out- come evaluations, the person's overall subjective norm about enlisting is influenced by his or her perceptions of the opinions of specific referents and the motivation to please or comply with those referents, and the person's general feeling about self-efficacy is influenced by the perceived obstacles to behavioral performance and one's perceived ability (or power) to overcome those obstacles. Distal Determinants of Enlistment Behavior Although the above classes of variables are the most immediate deter- minants of enlistment intentions, many other variables influence enlist- ment decisions, as shown in Figure 2-1. The influence of these other variables is more "distal" in the sense that their effects on behavior are mediated by or reflected in the more immediate determinants. For example, feelings of patriotism may influence enlistment behavior, but any such influence should be traceable through the more immediate determinants outlined above. Perhaps those with higher levels of patriotism have more positive behavioral beliefs about enlisting than those with lower levels of
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THEORETICAL APPROACHES 25 patriotism. Or, perhaps those with higher levels of patriotism perceive a more supportive normative environment for enlisting than those with lower levels of patriotism. Or perhaps those with higher levels of patriotism are more confident in their abilities to enlist than those with lower levels of patriotism. Figure 2-1 identifies five general classes of distal variables that may impact enlistment decisions and are important to take into account: (1) demographic and cultural variables (e.g., age, education, gender, socio- economic status, employment status, ethnicity), (2) attitudes toward targets (e.g., stereotypes associated with members of the military, social stigmas associated with being in the military), (3) personality, moods, and emotions (e.g., sensation-seeking propensities, positive mood states, gut- level emotional reactions to enlisting), (4) other individual difference vari- ables (e.g., feelings of patriotism, risk-taking propensities), and (5) media or intervention exposure (e.g., exposure to positive or negative portrayals of the military in the media). Perspectives from Economic Theories The above theoretical framework is described using terms that derive from sociology and psychology. There are large literatures in economics at both the micro-economic (see for example, Asch and Warner, 2001; Dertouzos, 1985) and macro-economic (see for example, Daula and Smith, 1985; Warner, 1990; Berner and Daula, 1993; Murray and MacDonald, 1999) levels that provide additional perspectives on enlistment behavior over and above those elucidated in Figure 2-1. This section elaborates theoretical orientations from economics that complement and extend the above formulation. Importance of Decision Options Economic theories of enlistments often focus on individual decision making about whether to join the military or pursue a civilian alternative. Economic theory assumes that an individual who is considering military service makes the decision to join by comparing the perceived utility he or she expects to receive from military service (UM) with the utility he or she will receive from remaining a civilian (Uc). The utility is the overall "worth" of a given career, taking into account all economic, social, and personal considerations. In economic theories, it is not uncommon to elucidate the role of wages and compensation in influencing these utilities. For example, it might be asserted that the utility for a given career choice is based on the compensation associated with that choice (W) and other nonpecuniary
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26 EVALUATING MILITARY ADVERTISING AND RECRUITING aspects of that choice (g). The utility associated with the military choice can be represented by the equation UM = WM + gM and the utility associ- ated with the civilian choice by Uc = Wc + gc A youth prefers to join the military if the expected utility from military service exceeds the expected utility from civilian life, that is, if UM >UC or, as simple algebra shows, if WM—WC>gC gM. A crucial feature of this simplified economic analysis is the idea that, to understand enlistment decisions, one must not only study how indi- viduals construe the option of a military career but also how they con- strue competing career options in the civilian sector. It is only when a theorist considers both choice options that proper perspectives on enlist- ment behavior emerge. The above economic theory conceptualized choice in terms of two decision options: (1) pursuing a military career or (2) remaining a civilian. However, classic decision theories in both economics and cognitive psy- chology do not preclude a more refined and detailed elaboration of choice alternatives. For example, when considering different military options, an individual might think about (1) enlisting in the Army, (2) enlisting in the Navy, (3) enlisting in the Air Force, (4) enlisting in the Marine Corps, (5) enlisting in the reserve forces, or (6) joining a college-based officer training program. Civilian alternatives might include (1) going to a two- year college, (2) going to a trade school, (3) going to a four-year college, (4) seeking a white-collar position in one's home town, and so on. An important task of decision analysis is determining what career options individuals perceive to be available to them and how they define and frame these options. Optimizing and Satisficing According to many economic choice theories, individuals associate an overall utility with each choice option and then choose to pursue the option that has the highest or most positive utility associated with it. This preference for the option with the most positive overall utility is called optimization. Consider four individuals, each of whom has the same four career options in mind, Cal, C2, C3, and C4. Let Cal represent the only enlistment option in the set of career options, and the remaining options represent civilian-sector options of one form or another. Suppose that the overall utility associated with an option is scaled from O to 1.00 with higher values indicating more positive overall utilities. The distribution of utilities for each individual might appear as follows:
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THEORETICAL APPROACHES Individual Cal c2 C3 C4 1 2 3 4 27 0.90 0.03 0.01 0.01 0.48 0.17 0.12 0.14 0.48 0.48 0.30 0.30 0.17 0.17 0.33 0.48 The choice of each individual should be the alternative with the high- est utility and the propensity to enlist or the strength of the decision to enlist is defined as the difference (or ratio, or some other function) between the utility associated with Cal and the highest utility for the remaining options: Individual Cal Highest Option Difference 1 0.90 0.03 0.87 2 0.48 0.17 0.31 3 0.48 0.48 0.00 4 0.17 0.48 -0.31 The highest propensity to enlist is for individual 1 because she or he has a high overall utility associated with Cal and a low utility associated with all remaining options. Note that even though individuals 2 and 3 have iden- tical utilities associated with enlisting, they differ in their propensity to enlist because individual 2 does not have as viable alternatives to Cal as individual 3. This example shows that it is the relative positioning of Cal within the choice set that is crucial, so to understand behavior, one must study the entire choice set, not just one component of it. As noted, economic theories of choice typically assume that indi- viduals strive to optimize, that is, they choose options that have the high- est overall utility associated with them. However, several theorists have argued that individuals sometimes use "satisficing" rather than optimiz- ing strategies (Todd and Gigerenzer, 2003; Schwartz et al., 2002; Hastie and Dawes,2001~. In satisficing decision strategies, individuals set a mini- mum utility value that an option must surpass in order for that option to be deemed acceptable. If the overall utility of an option falls below this threshold, then it is rejected as a viable course of action. As opportunities for pursuing different career options occur over time, the individual chooses to pursue the first option encountered that meets or surpasses the minimum threshold. Such a satisficing rule can result in a career choice that is not optimal in the sense that the chosen option may not have the highest utility from those in the entire choice set. Rather, the career was the first "acceptable" option that came along.
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28 EVALUATING MILITARY ADVERTISING AND RECRUITING lob opportunities often occur sequentially over time, and individuals may "satisfice" when an acceptable opportunity avails itself. This results in some people making choices for options that are actually inferior to later opportunities. An important contribution of economic theories of choice is the recognition of different functions relating option utilities to the choice of a given career. Economic Conceptions of Utility The concept of an overall utility for a choice option in economic theories roughly maps onto the concept of attitude in Figure 2-1. Eco- nomic theories also have parallels to behavioral beliefs and outcome evaluations. This is most apparent in multiattribute models of decision making, the classic example being that of subjective expected utility (SEW) theory (don Neumann and Morgenstern, 1947; Hastie and Dawes, 2001~. According to this theory, the different attributes associated with a career option (e.g., how much it pays, how much travel is involved with it, its social status) determines the overall option utility. More specifically, the overall utility is a function of the person's subjective probability that choosing the option will lead to each of the attributes or consequences in question (paralleling behavioral beliefs) and the utility or worth associ- ated with each attribute or consequence (paralleling outcome evaluations). Some economists argue that the other categories of influence in Fig- ure 2-1 (norms and self-efficacy) are simply additional career attributes (not unlike wages, travel demands, and social status) that go into the calculus of determining the overall utility of a career option. As such, norms and self-efficacy do not deserve special status relative to other career attributes. By contrast, sociologists and psychologists argue that viewing the constructs of norms and self-efficacy in this way is too narrow, because these variables have special explanatory power and are of sub- stantive interest in their own right. lust as economists want to build theories in which wages and compensation take on special roles, sociolo- gists and psychologists want to build theories in which constructs like norms and self-efficacy take on special roles. Economic models provide conceptual strategies for thinking about how specific attributes associated with a career option impact choice. This can be illustrated using the analysis of wage differentials described ear- lier. Recall that the overall utility associated with the military choice was defined as UM = WM + gM and the utility associated with the civilian choice is Uc = Wc + gc (where W is the compensation associated with a given option and g are nonpecuniary aspects of the option). Based on the optimizing principle, an individual is said to prefer to join the military if UM >UC . Simple algebra shows that an individual prefers military service
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THEORETICAL APPROACHES 29 if WM- WC > gC- gM. Thus, in order for individuals to choose to enlist, the military-civilian wage differential (WM- WC) must exceed the net value the individual places on the nonpecuniary aspects of civilian life (A = gc- gM) An increase in the wage differential WM- WC increases the likelihood that a youth will prefer military service, but an increase in the value the youth places on the net value of civilian life reduces it. The enlistment rate in the population is the fraction of youth for whom WM- WC > /. If the net preference factor is is completely random, then the enlistment rate depends only on military and civilian compensation. It is more likely, however, that the net value that a youth places on the non- pecuniary aspects of civilian life, A, depends on social and environmental background factors. Youth no doubt acquire attitudes about military ser- vice from parents, relatives, and friends during their formative years. To the extent that they form better impressions about the military and the importance of service during this formative period, the higher gM is and the more likely it is that WM- WC > /. The above example illustrates a classic economic strategy for thinking about and conceptualizing the impact of a given attribute in a task involv- ing choice. Economic models thus offer tools and strategies for conceptu- alizing the impact of career attributes on career choice that are somewhat different, yet complementary, to the approach based on Figure 2-1. Recruiter Activity and Recruiter Effort Economic models of enlistment behavior often emphasize the central role of recruiter activity and recruiter effort in influencing enlistments (see Chapter 5 for a review of this research). Such variables are either distal variables in the model in Figure 2-1 or environmental facilitators that help individuals translate positive intentions into behavior. Economic models capture recruiter dynamics in ways that are not elaborated in traditional theories using the constructs of Figure 2-1 and hence comple- ment the framework of the figure in important ways. Economic models recognize that recruiters are not randomly distrib- uted across recruiting areas, but rather are concentrated in areas in which there is naturally more fertile ground for prospects. Because of this, simple cross-sectional estimates can provide biased effects of recruiter produc- tivity. In addition, economic models recognize that recruiters are pro- vided with quotas or goals. Analysis of recruiting behavior suggests that failure to account for goals in model estimation may result in biased estimates of recruiter productivity and biased estimates of other factors affecting recruiting, such as enlistment bonuses. Recruiters' preferences, recruiting technology, and recruiter incentives also are of central concern in economic models.
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30 EVALUATING MILITARY ADVERTISING AND RECRUITING A review of relevant economic research on recruiter effects is pre- sented in Chapter 5. These economic modeling efforts are important be- cause they elaborate the role of the recruiter in enlistment decisions and enlistment behavior. Other Distal Variables Economic models of enlistment behavior focus on many distal variables that are represented only abstractly on the left-hand side of Figure 2-1. The particular variables studied in a given economic model depend on the specific questions being addressed. Although it is not common, it is possible to integrate the analysis of such economic variables with the more immediate, social-psychological behavioral determinants in Figure 2-1. Consider, for example, a variable such as the state of the economy. A poor economy influences the range of job opportunities an individual has available, that is, it influences the set of career options that the individual chooses among. In a poor economy, a military career option competes with fewer civilian alternatives, and the intention to enlist is framed in terms of this more restricted set of options. In a poor economy, there may be reductions in the level of funding available for recruiter activity and outreach. This can impact whether a person's intention to enlist is trans- lated into behavior by removing "environmental facilitators" that reduce the hassles and obstacles to actually enlisting (see the category in Figure 2-1 "Environmental Constraints". A poor economy also may influence the kinds of behavioral beliefs that an individual takes into account when evaluating different options in the choice set. Issues of salary and benefit packages may take on increased importance in the cognitive calculus of the individual as he or she weighs the advantages and disadvantages of different career options (see the category "Behavioral Beliefs and Out- come Evaluation" in Figure 2-1~. In addition, a poor economy also may impact the kind of normative pressures that are brought to bear on the individual. For example, a parent or spouse who may have been more tolerant of the individual's pursuing a military career may be less so if that parent or spouse sees a need to generate greater and more immediate income. Although there are other ways in which the effects of a poor economy can manifest itself in the theoretical system, our general point is that an integrated analysis of economic, sociological, and psychological variables will have substantial payoffs in providing insights into the mechanisms by which the different variables impact enlistment behavior. The frame- work of Figure 2-1, coupled with its elaboration based on economic models of enlistment behavior, provides a blueprint for researchers and program planners when pursuing such integrated efforts. This blueprint can be
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THEORETICAL APPROACHES 31 augmented by additional variables that are specific to the more immedi- ate, practical questions being addressed. Summary Economic models offer additional conceptual tools and foci that com- plement the framework in Figure 2-1 and that facilitate development and evaluation of interventions, advertising campaigns, and general policy setting for increasing enlistments. These foci include (1) thinking about how an intervention or campaign affects the placement or positioning of a military career to other career options that an individual might be con- templating, (2) recognizing that individuals do not always optimize their choices but instead may invoke simplifying heuristics that result in some form of satisficing, (3) thinking about the concept of an overall utility associated with a choice option and how individual attributes associated with a career impact that utility, (4) recognizing the important role of recruiters and how they impact the various components outlined in Fig- ure 2-1, and (5) calling attention to important economic variables that are distal determinants of enlistment behavior and whose effects can be traced through the more immediate determinants outlined in Figure 2-1. Perspectives from Adolescent Development For large segments of the population, enlistment decisions are made during late adolescence. There are research literatures in adolescent development suggesting that program designers and advertisers should consider at least one construct not elaborated in Figure 2-1, namely self- concept. Adolescents tend to be concerned about the images they project to others. Adolescence also is a time when youth are actively involved in identity formation. Adolescents want to carve out and transition to an adult identity that they can embrace and that is positively viewed by others. Such self-images represent distal variables in Figure 2-1, but they are so central to late adolescence that they should at least be considered (even if dismissed) when thinking about career choices that adolescents make. The choice of a career has major implications for one's self-image and the image that one projects. It follows that such variables will be of potential relevance for enlistment behaviors. Self-concept can be conceptualized usefully based on the framework of social prototypes (Gerrard et al., 2002; Thornton, Gibbons and Gerrard, 2002~. Social prototypes refer to images that individuals have of the kind of person who pursues a given choice option (e.g., the image of the kind of person who enlists in the military). Of interest is how positively this image is perceived as being and the extent to which a person's own self-
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32 EVALUATING MILITARY ADVERTISING AND RECRUITING concept maps onto the prototype of the kind of person who enlists in the military. If there is a close match between the person's self-concept and the prototype of the person who chooses the career option, and if the prototype is positive in character, then the individual will be more likely to pursue that option, everything else being equal. The similarity between an individual's self-conception and the conception of a social prototype on a given dimension can be defined as Sk - Pk. where Sk is the extent to which the individual believes he or she is characterized by attribute k and Pk is the extent to which the social proto- type is characterized by attribute k. (Note: other functions than a differ- ence function could be used to represent this discrepancy.) Uk refers to the utility of attribute k, or the extent to which it is perceived as being positive or negative in character. The overall social prototype factor is some function of these discrepancies and utilities: SPj =f (S~—Pi, S2—P2,.~e, Sk—Pk. Up, U2,... ,Uk) where SPj is the overall social prototype factor for choosing career option j, and all other terms are as previously described. In general, individuals will be more likely to say they will pursue an option if their image of themselves maps onto the social prototype of the kind of individual who pursues the career option on dimensions that are positive in character. In sum, research on adolescent development suggests that self-image (and the notion of prototype) should be considered when thinking about intervention strategies to increase enlistments. Rational, Irrational, and Emotion-Driven Decisions A common complaint about economic and social-psychological models of decision making is that they assume individuals are "rational" decision makers who carefully weigh the "costs" and "benefits" of their actions when making choices. The argument is that decisions do not always reflect rational information-processing strategies but instead are governed by irra- tionality, emotions, and impulsive tendencies (Steinberg, 2003~. A strength of the framework in Figure 2-1 is that it can accommodate both perspectives. From an information-processing perspective, the framework assumes that individuals take into account the perceived costs and benefits of the different courses of action available to them. These perceptions may be true or false in reality. For example, a person may think a certain civilian career will pay more than a military career when this is not, in fact, the case. Individuals act on their perceptions independent of their actual truth value. Thus, what may appear as irrational behavior to an observer who knows the true facts may be quite rational to the individual decision
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THEORETICAL APPROACHES 33 maker, who is maximizing utilities as he or she perceives them. By applying the framework, insights can be gained into misperceptions that individual decision makers have as they think about military career options. The model in Figure 2-1 also recognizes that some individuals do not even consider the personal costs and benefits that will accrue to them if they make certain choices. Such behavioral beliefs are only one of three major variable categories that can impact enlistment decisions, the other two being normative pressures and self-efficacy considerations. As noted earlier, the relative impact of each of these variable categories on enlist- ment decisions can vary as a function of individual differences, with some individuals completely ignoring one class of variables in favor of another and other individuals taking into account different combinations of vari- able categories. In this sense, the framework goes well beyond simple rational, cost-benefit models of choice, allowing for the possibility that costs and benefits are not considered at all. Finally, the framework recognizes that emotion and impulse-based variables can influence enlistment behavior. Emotions are distal variables that can shape what behavioral beliefs, norms, and control beliefs are taken into account when making decisions (see the box in Figure 2-1 labeled "Personality, Moods, and Emotions". In addition, impulse and emotional control represent a "skill and ability" that one must have in order to ensure that a chosen course of action is translated into behavior. In sum, the framework in Figure 2-1 allows for formal information- processing determinants of enlistment behavior as well as irrational, emo- tional, and impulse-based determinants. IMPLICATIONS FOR INTERVENTION DESIGN The design of programs or advertising strategies to increase enlist- ments will be more successful if they are informed by research that iden- tifies the core factors that are driving the career choices of a given target population. Once these factors are known, the campaign can attempt to directly change those factors or mitigate or enhance their influence. In general, interventions will tend to be more effective if they target the more immediate determinants of behavior as opposed to more distal determinants. Figure 2-1 and the additional perspectives derived from economics and adolescent development suggest the following strategies for increas- ing enlistments: 1. Help individuals translate positive intentions into behavior by removing environmental constraints to enlisting and putting into place environmental facilitators.
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34 EVALUATING MILITARY ADVERTISING AND RECRUITING 2. Help individuals achieve the qualifications and skills necessary to translate positive intent into behavior (e.g., through educational assis- tance programs). 3. Change personal attitudes toward enlisting by (a) changing the subjective probability associated with a given consequence of enlisting (e.g., "you think you might learn an important job skill but I can assure you that you definitely will"), (b) changing the outcome evaluation or utility associated with a given consequence (e.g. "having this job skill is a really desirable thing for you to have and you don't realize just how valuable it will be"), or (c) adding a consequence to a person's belief system that they had not thought about before. 4. Change the overall normative pressure to enlist by changing either the injunctive or descriptive norms. With respect to the former, change can be brought about by (a) changing the referents' opinions about what the individual should do (e.g., by targeting parents of potential recruits as part of the campaign), (b) changing the individual's perception of a referent's opinion, (c) rendering the referent irrelevant to the decision in the eyes of the potential recruit, or (d) making the opinion of a supportive referent more important and salient to the decision maker. With respect to the latter, change can be brought about by (a) educating individuals about the true base rates of enlisting for different referent groups or (b) render- ing a referent group to be more or less important to the individual. 5. Change the overall perceived self-efficacy associated with enlist- ing by (a) convincing the individual that a perceived obstacle is not an obstacle after all or (b) convincing the individual that he or she has the skills and wherewithal to overcome the obstacle. 6. Change the relevant social prototype and self-image by (a) changing how one perceives the kind of person who enlists in the military on a given attribute dimension (e.g., "people who enlist are patriotic"), (b) changing the utility or evaluation of an attribute dimension associated with the prototype (e.g., "being patriotic is a noble and highly desirable character quality"), (c) making new attribute dimensions associated with the proto- type salient to the individual, or (d) changing how one perceives oneself on one or more of the attribute dimensions associated with the prototype. 7. Alter any of the above for competing options in the choice set so that the options associated with a military career rise above those of their civilian competitors in terms of overall utility. 8. Introduce new military-based career options to the choice set that the individual may not have thought about and that will be relatively attractive to the individual. 9. Alter any of the above through recruiter activities and programs aimed at increasing the effectiveness of recruiters.
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THEORETICAL APPROACHES 35 Some of these strategies will be more effective in some target populations than others. The committee in its previous report stressed the idea that the impact of any single variable in Figure 2-1 can vary from population to population. A behavioral belief that might be highly relevant to male recruits may be irrelevant and inconsequential to female recruits. The impact of injunctive norms for one's parents might be stronger for some ethnic groups than others. An important step in program design is con- ducting the requisite research to isolate which of the many possible deter- minants of enlistment behavior are likely to have the biggest effect if changed. Based on this research, effective programs can be structured. IMPLICATIONS FOR INTERVENTION EVALUATION, LONGITUDINAL ANALYSIS, AND DEMOGRAPHIC ANALYSIS When a campaign or program to increase enlistments has been put in place, the above theoretical framework can be used to help evaluate why the program works, does not work, or ways that the program might be improved to enhance its effectiveness. As an example, consider a pro- gram designed to make a military career more attractive by offering a free laptop computer to those who enlist. The idea of the program is to add a new behavioral belief about a positive consequence that will occur if the person enlists and this, in turn, should impact enlistment behavior. The above theoretical framework suggests a number of strong assumptions that such a program hinges on. First, one must assume that having a free laptop computer is evaluated sufficiently positively by individuals to result in a nontrivial change in personal attitudes toward enlisting. Second, one must assume that personal attitudes toward enlisting are a significant determinant of the intention to enlist. If normative or self-efficacy factors are the primary determinants of intention for the target population rather than attitudes, then the program may not be successful even if it affects personal attitudes. Third, one must assume that the changes in personal attitudes that result are sufficient to make those attitudes more positive than the attitudes toward the other civilian options in the choice set. Even if attitudes toward enlisting become more positive, if individuals still feel more positive about a civilian alternative, the program will be ineffective in increasing enlistments. Fourth, even if the program produces a change in the intention to enlist, this still may not result in increased enlistments unless those intentions translate themselves into behavior. To the extent that environmental constraints mitigate against doing so, the program will be ineffective in increasing enlistments. All of the above mechanisms can be measured directly in evaluation research, permitting analysts to pinpoint if the program has achieved its desired effects and, if not, why not. Alterations to the program can then
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36 EVALUATING MILITARY ADVERTISING AND RECRUITING be enacted to increase its effectiveness. For example, if the problem is that the laptop being offered does not produce a sufficient change in personal attitude, then perhaps offering a higher quality laptop will increase its attractiveness enough to change the attitude. If the problem is that the change in attitude is not sufficient to produce a change in intent, then one might add additional incentives to complement those of the free laptop, making the attitude toward enlisting that much more positive. If the change in attitude fails to lead to a change in intent because the intention is primarily influenced by injunctive norms, then the program might be augmented to ensure that parents of the recruit learn about the awarding of a laptop, thereby reducing their resistance to their son's or daughter's enlisting. Or if the program results in a change in intention but not behav- ior, then the program might be enhanced to address the environmental constraints that are preventing the recruit from translating his or her positive intent into behavior. Evaluation efforts are more informative not only if they address the effectiveness of a program in changing the behavior of interest, but also if they provide perspectives on why a program fails to work or how that program might be improved. Applying the theoretical perspectives described in this chapter to evaluation research can help achieve these goals. The above logic also applies to understanding the longitudinal dynamics of enlistment behavior and how and why enlistment rates change over time. In the committee's earlier report, it was noted that there was a decline in the propensity to enlist during the early 1990s and that this decline predicted the enlistment shortfalls in the late 1990s. During this time period, many distal variables were changing as a result of the economic dynamics at work in the United States: military pay relative to civilian pay declined, the economy boomed, and the investment in recruit- ing efforts shrank. As these distal economic variables changed, their im- pact on enlistment behavior should have been reflected in concomitant (but perhaps lagged) changes in the mediating variables of Figure 2-1. For example, the decreased pay for military careers might have changed behavioral beliefs about the salary associated with the military, which in turn would negatively impact the attitude toward enlisting. Lower pay structures also might have impacted the kinds of normative pressures that were brought to bear, as important referents (e.g., parents) discouraged the individual from pursuing a career that they thought would result in financial strains in the long run. Lower investments in recruiting activities might have lessened the facilitating influences that recruiters had in helping recruits translate positive intentions into behav- ior. By carefully analyzing how the mediators of Figure 2-1 change in conjunction with changes in broad economic and societal variables, one
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THEORETICAL APPROACHES 37 can gain insights into the mechanisms by which those changes are im- pacting enlistment behavior. Finally, the same logic can be applied when analyzing the effects of any distal variable on enlistment behavior. For example, suppose that there are differences in enlistment rates for two different ethnic groups. To gain insights into the bases for these ethnic differences, one can com- pare groups on any of the core mediators in Figure 2-1. Group differences in enlistment behavior should be reflected in group differences in one or more of these variables. For example, it might be found that members of one group tend to perceive military careers as offering more opportunities for advancement than members of another group (a behavioral belief). Or it might be found that the parents of members of one group tend to be more approving of a military career than the parents of members of the other group (a normative belief). Integrative analyses that include both social-psychological variables and a theoretically driven set of distal vari- ables can be more informative than studying either group of variables alone. IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNICATION THEORY The first step in designing an effective campaign to increase enlist- ments is to identify the factors that are most influential in determining enlistment behavior. Once identified, the program designer must then develop a strate~v for changing mitigating the impact of or enhancing Ad., ~ By, ~ ~ ~ , e1 · ~ ~ e1 1 ~ · ~ rT~1 e1 ~ · 1 ~ 1 ~ 1 the Impact of those determinants. the theoretical framework presented above can help identify relevant behavioral determinants, but it says little about how to change the core perceptions that underlie enlistment behav- ior. For example, how does one go about changing a specific behavioral belief? How does one change the outcome evaluation or utility of an attribute? How does one change the perception of an injunctive norm? How does one increase the impact of an attitude? There are a wide range of strategies that might be used in such efforts, but one of the most common strategies is to provide individuals with new information that they have not previously considered. Providing infor- mation requires effectively communicating that information to recruits, thus bringing to bear the importance of communication mechanisms, a topic we now consider. Classic conceptualizations of communication distinguish among five components in the communication process: (1) the source of a communi- cation, (2) the communication itself (often referred to as the message), (3) the medium or channel through which the message is transmitted (e.g., face-to-face, written materials, visual recordings), (4) the recipient or audience of the communication, and (5) the context in which the commu-
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38 EVALUATING MILITARY ADVERTISING AND RECRUITING nication occurs (McGuire, 1985~. Each of these components of communi- cation has subcomponents. For example, sources of a message may differ in their age, gender, expertise, and trustworthiness. Recipients of commu- nications differ in terms of their motivational states, their emotional states, their past experiences, and their expectations. The surrounding environ- ment varies in terms of its temporal, physical, social, and cultural fea- tures. Variations in each of these five factors represent independent variables that ultimately may affect the behavior of the potential recruit in response to the communication. The impact of a message about enlisting may vary as a function of the characteristics of the person delivering the message, characteristics of the message itself, characteristics of the chan- nel through which the message is delivered, characteristics of the poten- tial recruit, and characteristics of the context in which the communication occurs. It is likely that these variables interact in complex ways to affect responses to communications. Communication also involves cognitive processes that can be affected by the above independent variables. For a communication to have mean- ingful impact on potential recruits, the recruits must first be exposed to the communication, they must attend to the communication, they must comprehend the communication (i.e., the meanings intended by the source must map onto the extracted meanings of the recruits), they must accept the extracted meanings as being valid, and they must retain these meanings in memory. At later points in time, these meanings may need to be accessed from memory, thereby invoking fundamental processes of retrieval. The processes of exposure, attention, comprehension, acceptance, retention, and accurate retrieval form the foundation for meaningful com- munication. The processes are intertwined in the sense that each usually must occur for nontrivial communication to result. If the probability of exposure is 0, then meaningful communication will not result. If the prob- ability of message comprehension is 0, then meaningful communication will not result. Even when the probabilities associated with each process are large, the probability of overall meaningful communication is attenu- ated. For example, if the probability of exposure, p(Ex), is .90, the prob- ability of attention, p(At), is .90, the probability of comprehension, p(Co) is .90, the probability of acceptance, p(Ac) is .90, the probability of retention, p(Re), is .90, and the probability of accurate retrieval, p(Ret), is .90, and if these probabilities follow a simple multiplicative combinatorial rule, then the probability of meaningful communication is p(Ex) p(At) p(Co) p(Ac) p(Re) p(Ret), which is .906 = .53, or about 50-50. This simplified cognitive analysis underscores the complexity and challenges for fostering effective communication between change agents and potential recruits. The complexity is magnified when one realizes that the five facets of communication identified earlier (source, message,
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THEORETICAL APPROACHES 39 channel, recipient, and context) can affect each of the six cognitive pro- cesses differently (as main effects or in complex interaction with one another), that recruits are often exposed to multiple and sometimes con- flicting communications, and that change agents also must accurately interpret the communications of recruits in the context of reciprocal com- munication. Note also that none of this bears on the effect of the commu- nication on enlistment behavior, which is the ultimate criterion for the intervention effort. Although a change agent may have a well-thought- out meaning structure to communicate to a recruit and although the change agent may believe that effectively communicating this meaning structure will increase the likelihood of enlistment, it is possible that the change agent may be wrong in that the ultimate acceptance, retention, and retrieval of the meaning structure is irrelevant to enlistment behavior. This brief review of communication theory underscores an additional set of variables that program designers must take into account. To the extent that a program involves the communication of information to the recruit, program designers need to think about who the source of the communication will be, what the message will look like, the nature of the audience who is likely to be receiving and processing the message, the context in which the message will be delivered and subsequently pro- cessed, and the channel or medium over which the communication will be conveyed. Choices concerning the above should be enacted so as to maximize exposure to the message, attention to the message, comprehen- sion of the message, acceptance of the message, retention of the message, and accurate retrieval of the message from memory. There exist large bodies of research in communications, psychology, and sociology to help address such issues. CONCLUSION The role of theory is crucial to the design of interventions to increase enlistment behavior. When such programs are developed Theoretically, they run a great risk of being ineffective. In this chapter, we have outlined a general framework for thinking about effective recruiting program design. The first step is to identify the fundamental factors that impact a target population's enlistment behavior. The second step is to derive strat- egies (often informationally based) to change, enhance the effect of, or mitigate the effect of those determinants. We outlined a wide range of variables and processes that program designers must potentially take into account, drawing heavily on research from adolescent development, com- munications, economics, psychology, and sociology. These perspectives set the stage for conducting the necessary research to inform program design and program evaluation.
Representative terms from entire chapter: