Character strengths and performance outcomes among military brat and non-brat cadets

Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Behavioral Sciences and Leadership

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Publication Title

Military Psychology

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Although many studies have compared military vs. civilian samples on a wide variety of characteristics, few have examined these differences within the context of those who commit a portion of their life to the military. In this study, we explored how West Point cadets with (“military brat cadet”) or without (“non-brat cadet”) a family military background might differ in terms of their character strengths. Although the cadets shared many similarities, we found that several strengths related to self-control were higher in non-brat cadets than brat cadets and that many of these self-control-related strengths were important predictors of performance for brat cadets (but not non-brat cadets). For non-brat cadets, strengths related to a drive to fully involve themselves and navigate relationships with others were better predictors of performance. In a second study utilizing a different class of cadets, we again found support for the idea that nonmilitary brat cadets possessed more self-control than military brat cadets. Better understanding the unique strengths and weaknesses of those within the military who have vs. don’t have a military background may provide important insights for future recruitment, training, and military preparation.

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