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Human Behavior in Military Contexts 6 Emotion Emotions play a powerful, central role in everyday life and, not surprisingly, they play an equally central role in military planning and training. Emotions shape how people perceive the world, they bias beliefs, and they influence our decisions and in large measure guide how people adapt their behavior to the physical and social environment. Recent advances in psychology and neurophysiology have highlighted the rational and adaptive nature of our emotions (Lazarus, 1991; Damasio, 1994). It is clear that emotions can impair decisions, a fact exploited in a range of military tactics. Military planners throughout history have incorporated an emotional element into training and operations. Training exercises are often designed to elicit the strong emotions soldiers will feel on the battlefield and to create the shared emotions that lead to esprit de corps. And the more recent emphasis on “winning the peace” has placed a premium on soldiers who can understand and defuse the emotions of others. In terms of tactics, Machiavelli (1515) wrote that to motivate citizens to withstand a long siege one should encourage “fear of the cruelty of the enemy.” The more modern strategy of “shock and awe” relies just as explicitly on an appeal to emotion (Ullman and Wade, 1996). A 1994 U.S. Army leadership manual (U.S. Department of the Army, p. 8-1) illustrates the role of emotions in operational terms: Commanders, while shielding their own troops from stress, should attempt to promote terror and disintegration in the opposing force…Some examples of stress-creating actions are attacks on his command structure; the use of artillery, air delivered weapons, smoke; deception; psychological
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts warfare; and the use of special operations forces. Such stress-creating actions can hasten the destruction of the enemy’s capability for combat. The leadership manual also states ominously that “failure to consider the human factors in an environment of increased lethality and uncertainty could cause a nation’s concept of warfare to be irrelevant” (p. 1-9). Despite this commonsense grasp of the importance of emotion, as a topic of scientific investigation the study of emotion has waxed and waned. In the past 20 years, however, behavioral scientists have firmly established the importance of emotion in understanding such diverse individual behaviors as perception, attention, memory, and judgment and decision making (Musch and Klauer, 2003), as well as such social behaviors as leadership, persuasion, self-regulation, social intelligence, contagion, productivity, and organizational effectiveness (Judge and Larsen, 2001). Indeed, there has been a revolution in psychology and other behavioral and social sciences (e.g., economics, neuroeconomics) in terms of viewing emotion as a critical variable in understanding a wide variety of human behaviors, many of which have obvious relevance to military needs, even in the short term. NATURE OF EMOTIONS Research on emotion is not without its controversies. As described by Barrett (in this volume), a major debate concerns whether emotions are best understood as discrete entities that have specific eliciting stimuli and distinct signatures (e.g., facial expressions, physiology, action tendencies, etc.), or whether they might be better conceptualized as broad dimensions, such as valance and arousal. A researcher’s position in this debate influences how emotion is conceived, measured, and investigated, and useful knowledge has been generated from both sides of the debate. Researchers agree that emotion represents a universal and intrinsic aspect of human consciousness, which functions as an evaluative representation of the environment to the person experiencing the emotion and moderates important cognitive, behavioral, and physiological phenomena. Just as the human retina transduces light waves into the experience of color, the human mind transduces events in the environment into evaluative experiences, i.e., emotions. Emotions are, at their core, internal representations of the affective evaluations one attaches to events in the external environment. Emotions, in turn, produce effects at every level of cognition and influence many social behaviors, and there are important individual differences in those effects. Many of the main effects of emotion, and their individual differences, could be important for the military and as topics of potentially important and mission-relevant research. For example, the use of virtual re-
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts ality methods for military training could be developed to include evocative virtual training scenarios that are capable of inducing emotion, including mixed emotions, in a manner similar to real-world military operations. This is currently being attempted with computer simulations for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but it remains to be validated in the next few years. Military operations often involve “in extremis” decision making and action. Such operations can involve intense emotions including those associated with notice of deployment, reactions during training, anticipation of operations, sometimes terrifying conditions during operations, and emotions following return from operational theater (e.g., intense feelings of euphoria, regret, grief, anger, or disgust). Over longer periods, the failure to regulate emotional responses can lead to poor long-term performance (e.g., decision making) and health declines (e.g., PSTD), as well as disruptions to social (e.g., family, unit) function. It has been said that war is 5 percent anger, terror, and horror, interspersed with long periods of waiting and boredom. The periods between operations may grow longer when soldiers are used in peace support missions, in which soldiers who are trained for offensive and defensive operations must engage a high degree of prolonged self-restraint. Consequently, how soldiers, and hence the military, cope with the emotional consequences of boredom is also important. For example, how can soldiers maintain a high level of alertness, attentiveness, and “situational awareness” during these periods? How can military leaders prevent troop boredom from transforming into aggression, despair, or hatred? How can soldiers be trained to discern the ethical implications of their actions in a wide variety of situations, including the periods between operations? COGNITION AND EMOTION A person’s affective state is primarily influenced by a mostly automatic process generically labeled evaluation (Bargh and Ferguson, 2000; Barrett, 2006a; Blascovich, in press; Brendl and Higgins, 1995; Lazarus and Folkman, 1984; Tesser and Martin, 1996). Evaluation is a fast and simple form of analysis in which something is judged (often unconsciously) as “good for me” or “bad for me” in a given situation, producing some change in a person’s feelings and affect. People continually and automatically evaluate situations and objects for their relevance and value (Bargh and Ferguson, 2000; but see Storbeck and Robinson, 2004): that is, whether or not properties of the situation signify something important to one’s survival, well-being, and goals (Ellsworth and Scherer, 2003), leading to changes in affect. Evaluation can occur outside of awareness, can happen very rapidly,
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts and can be independent of conscious control (for a recent review, see Moors and De Houwer, 2006). The brain’s cognitive architecture appears to have specialized modules (at least metaphorically) for the fast and efficient processing of stimuli that have evaluative consequences. For example, in perceptual search paradigms, facial displays of fear and anger produce faster identification times than do neutral faces (e.g., Pernilla, Lundqvist, Karlsson, and Ohman, 2005). Studies using the dot-probe paradigm (a laboratory technique for tracking attention) also find an attentional bias toward angry faces (e.g., Cooper and Langton, 2006). Other threatening stimuli, such as spiders and snakes, also produce such perceptual and attentional biases (Barrett, in this volume). Mapping out the boundary conditions for such effects, along with individual differences and emotional specificity, is relevant for many military situations. For example, can soldiers be trained to use and rely on the fast perceptual processing that occurs with threatening stimuli? How can they best minimize false alarms—the perception of threat when threat does not exist? Can surveillance systems be engineered that produce the same perceptual superiority for threat detection? Once initiated, the effects of evaluation and subsequent affective states on other cognitive processes are immediate and relatively diffuse in the cognitive system. For example, affective states not only influence how people interpret what they see, but literally what they see (Duncan and Barrett, in press). Affect can modulate processing in the visual ventral stream (the brain’s object perception system) even as far back as V1, a visual area in the cortex (Stolarova, Keil, and Moratti, 2006). People use their affective reactions as additional sources of information to make judgments, especially in uncertain conditions, in both explicit (Schwarz and Clore, 1983) and implicit ways (Bechara, Damasio, et al., 1994; Bechara, Tranel, Damasio, and Damasio, 1996, but see Dunn, Dalgleish, and Lawrence, 2006). In some instances, people misattribute their affective reactions (Payne, Cheng, Govorun, and Stewart, 2005) or give a “false alarm,” and see a threat where none is present (Quigley and Barrett, 1999), sometimes with dire consequences (e.g., shooting a suspect who actually poses no threat). More research on emotion will lead to better understanding of when affect helps, and when it hinders, the accurate perception of threat and reward. Military situations are fraught with uncertainty, and understanding the role of emotion in arriving at accurate situational awareness may prove useful in optimizing decision processes. Emotion has effects at all levels of cognitive processing; many of them are directly relevant to military contexts. For example, mild emotion sometimes facilitates memory (e.g., better recall for items associated with affect),
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts but stronger emotions (intense fear) sometimes produce amnesia for events right before and after the eliciting event. Emotions can influence perceptual activity: for example, fearful faces enhance contrast sensitivity for visual information (Gasper and Clore, 2002). Emotions can also affect judgment: for example, induced sadness influences judgments of the steepness of a hill (Storbeck and Clore, 2005). Thus, emotions may influence soldiers’ assessments of their own ability to undertake and complete missions. Affective context can also influence behaviors: people exhibit more anger and outrage in a disgusting environment than in a benign one (Clore, Gasper, and Garvin, 2001). Affective heuristics also influence judgment and decision making. New research in a field called affective forecasting (Kermer, Driver-Linn, Wilson, and Gilbert, 2006) reveals that people often make decisions on the basis of anticipated future affect, even though such anticipations are often incorrect. Other research (e.g., Wilson, Lisle, Schooler, and Hodges, 1993) suggests that introspection about one’s reasons for making a decision can reduce satisfaction with the choice. Such findings are likely to have implications for how the military makes some types of decisions and how it conducts postmission reviews. Emotion can also have important effects on decision making. For example, Loewenstein, Read, and Baumeister (2003) have shown that discounting rates (the tendency to see near-term consequences, both costs and benefits, as worth more than identical consequences further out in the future) are steeper when the consequences have emotional connotations. Moreover, decision strategies can change toward compensatory models (i.e., careful weighting and balancing) when people have to make difficult negative emotional tradeoffs (Luce, Bettman, and Payne, 1997). Emotion can influence judgments directly: for example, one study showed that watching a murder movie influenced subjects’ later judgments for punishment of perpetrators of unrelated crimes (Lerner and Goldberg, 1999). A related military application concerns postconflict behavior and understanding, such as how soldiers react to and treat captured enemy combatants and local civilians. Understanding how emotions influence moral decision making should be of interest because of the inevitability of intense emotions in these situations. Anticipated regret can also influence decision making: one study found that people reverse their preferences when they are told they will get the feedback necessary to know whether they should or should not regret the decision (Connolly and Zoolenberg, 2002). Research has also shown that emotions can also bring about self-deception (e.g., Mele, 2000) or overwhelm reason (Shiv and Fedorikhin, 1999) in making decisions. Because of the importance of decisions in military operations, research on the nature of emotional effects on decision making is of crucial importance to the U.S. military; this is a research agenda for the long term.
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts EMOTION AND SELF-REGULATION The self-regulation of mood and emotion is an important topic in the study of emotion. Currently, some researchers are focusing on a few strategies for self-regulation, such as suppression and reappraisal (Gross and John, 2003); others are focusing on a wider taxonomy of strategies and behaviors that may be effective at remediating stress and negative emotions (e.g., Larsen and Prizmic, 2005). Key topics for research in the field—which are relevant to the military—include the relative efficacy of different emotion regulation strategies, the degree to which such strategies can be taught and learned, whether some strategies work better in regulating one emotion than another, and whether some individuals are better than others in regulating their emotions. This last topic is, of course, central to the concept of emotional intelligence, which is already of interest to the U.S. military.1 The concept of emotional intelligence is hotly debated among researchers, and the military has many reasons to be interested in the resolution of this debate. If it is a viable concept, emotional intelligence could be relevant to many military problems, including: prevention and detection of PTSD and the timely return to combat duty, the selection of military recruits for specific roles on the basis of their levels of emotional intelligence, the training of soldiers to recognize emotions in themselves and others and to cope with extreme emotions, the training of leaders to manage emotions in themselves and their subordinates, and the design of training environments to simulate realistic scenarios that require emotionally adaptive skills. EMOTION AND SOCIAL BEHAVIOR A wide variety of social behaviors is influenced by affect. For example, the effectiveness of persuasion can be influenced by the emotional terms in which the persuasive appeal is presented: that is, what a person has to gain (positive frame) versus what the person has to lose (negative frame). Persuasion is important to the military in a number of settings, ranging from enlistment and retention to negotiation and communication with enemy combatants and civilians in the field. In addition, this line of research should also be of considerable value for psychological operations—situations in which the military attempts to influence or persuade civilians or combatants through alternatives to force (e.g., communications or propaganda). Another important topic is the role of emotion in prejudice and stereotyping, both within the U.S. military and between U.S. military or civilian 1 For example there was a workshop on emotional intelligence held in November 2003 by the Educational Testing Service and the U.S. Army Research Institute; see also Bar-On, Handley, and Fund (2005).
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts personnel and opposing forces in the field or enemy combatants under U.S. control. What are the behavioral, cultural, and sociological processes that contribute to dehumanizing effects, such as those observed at the Abu Ghraib prison? Can people be trained to resist such effects? What role does a long period of vigilance or boredom play in making soldiers susceptible to such effects or other negative consequences? Another area of developing research concerns emotions in work settings (e.g., Weiss and Cropanzano, 1996). Several questions are relevant for military settings: What are the display rules for emotions in various military work settings? What are the effects of emotions on work performance or on attitudes toward work and the organization? What are the effects of dispositional influences, such as temperament and personality, on the likelihood of experiencing specific affective states (see, e.g., Fritz and Sonnentag, 2006)? What opportunities in the military workplace exist for the effective remediation of negative emotions? For example, when troops interact closely with local populations, as they do during low-intensity warfare, there are inevitably cases in which troops suffer casualties due to “betrayal” by someone in that population. Such events can give rise to extremely negative attitudes and prejudices regarding the entire local population and lead to unwarranted actions against innocent indigents, which, in turn, disrupts attempts to build rapport with the population. This situation poses a very serious challenge for small unit leaders, especially when troops are exposed to low-level combat for an extended period of time. Sophisticated methods for measuring affect (as well as cognition and performance) in naturalistic settings are now available, such as computerized palm-like devices that administer experience-sampling protocols (Beal and Weiss, 2003). Such devices could facilitate the study of emotional processes in real time in military settings, especially when coupled with on-line ambulatory assessment of physiological processes (see Chapter 7). In work settings, an important question concerns the carryover of affective events from one setting (e.g., home) to another (e.g., work) and vice versa (Demerouti, Bakker, and Bulters, 2004; Illies et al., 2006; Sonnentag, 2003; Sonnentag and Zijlstra, 2006). The quality of a soldier’s personal life (marriage, social network, community) influences important work and performance behaviors, and work outcomes influence personal life as well. Emotional carryover between the battlefield and R&R (rest and relaxation), as well as from one mission (combat) to another (peace keeping), represent important areas for investigation. EMOTION AND LEADERSHIP Emotion plays a role in several important aspects of leadership. One phenomenon, known as emotional contagion, refers to the spreading of an
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts affective state from person to person in a group, such as a military unit. These effects may be negative, such as when the affect contagion concerns a disorganizing emotion such as extreme fear, or they may be positive, such as the spreading belief in a group’s capability to succeed at some task. The latter contagion is known as “collective efficacy” (Bandura, 1990), which is defined as a unit’s shared perception that the group is able to succeed at a given task. This phenomenon is being investigated in various athletic teams (Bandura, 1997; Feltz and Lirgg, 1998; Heuzé, Raimbault, and Fontayne, 2006), and it might be generalizable to military units with defined goals and standards for success. An important research question for the military is how a team leader might promote collective efficacy and how he or she might inhibit the effects of contagion of negative emotion. Another leadership question concerns a component of emotional intelligence that relates to the perception of emotion in others and the ability to regulate emotion and motivation in others (Bar-On, 2004). This aspect of emotional intelligence has been understudied relative to the self-regulation of emotion, and it has important implications for leadership effectiveness in military settings (Druskat, Sala, and Mount, 2005). Measures of this aspect of emotional intelligence could be investigated with reference to important leadership criteria and, if predictive, might be very useful for selection purposes in the military. A related topic is leadership paranoia, in which leaders who are isolated may develop beliefs about their subordinates that are inaccurate. EMOTION AND CULTURE The topic of emotion and culture defines a large and growing research literature that holds important insights for the military. One aspect of this topic concerns how emotions are communicated from person to person and how this communication is affected when the participants are from different cultures. As one example, the Japanese culture encourages socially engaging emotions (e.g., friendly feelings, guilt), and North American culture fosters socially disengaging emotions (e.g., pride, anger) (Kitayama, Mesquita, and Karasawa, 2006). Japanese people show a tendency to experience engaging emotions more strongly than disengaging emotions, while Americans are prone to the opposite tendency. For traditional Japanese people, subjective well-being is more closely associated with the experience of positive engaging emotions (friendliness), while in North America subjective well-being is more closely associated with the experience of positive disengaging emotions (pride). Such cultural differences in the experience of and comfort with various emotional states are very important in such areas as negotiation, training, and persuasion, which are important issues for the U.S. military. In general, cultures differ in the importance attached
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts to certain goals, which can lead in turn to different emotional reactions to the same event (Mesquita, 2001; Parkinson, Fischer, and Manstead, 2005). As the military increasingly trains and conducts missions with forces from different cultures, detailed knowledge of those cultural differences, in particular the emotional aspects of those cultures, will be important to mission success. For example, what gestures do people from a particular culture find threatening? What gestures signify respect? Are there culture-specific triggers of aggression? When negotiating with people from a given culture, do they have certain goals that differ from ours? Are there culture-specific ways of motivating people? Are there culture-specific ways of eliciting cooperation? It will take many years for scientists to determine the answers to these questions.