Mind over matter Non-cognitive assessments for the selection of the Swedish voluntary soldier of peace

University dissertation from Karlstad University Press

Abstract: The purpose of this thesis was firstly, to investigate if the current selection system mirrors the task of international deployment and voluntariness. Secondly, to investigate if and how non-cognitive assessments of personality and resilience, individual aspects that seem underrepresented in the current selection system, may increment validity to the current selection system. Since 2012 the Swedish Armed Forces is an All-volunteer Force where young men and women voluntarily can apply for a military service. In contrast to conscription, military service today includes compulsory international deployments with different demands on the personnel’s range of possible abilities and skills as well as selection process—yet the current selection system may not sufficiently correspond to the changes.The thesis comprises four studies (Study I-IV) with relevant military samples, and aside from Study I, a validation of a short version personality questionnaire (PQ) being used in two of the subsequent studies, Study II-IV had a longitudinal design. Study II shows that the former selection system lacked prognostic value of soldiers’ performance during international deployment, and their ability to readjust at homecoming. Additionally, Study II shows that non-cognitive assessments can be used as predictors for readjustment. Study III indicates that international deployment does not need to be harmful for the psychological well-being and that good health seems to be a stable factor across time and situations. Thus, selection of “good health” and resilience may prove fruitful. Study IV suggests that high motivation to serve may have serious consequences for selection decisions and, in the long run, the recruits’ psychological well-being.In sum, this thesis suggests that the current selection system needs adaption to the task of repeated international deployments and to the voluntary applicant pool, and that non-cognitive assessment may increment validity.