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    A multi-method approach to investigating psychological resilience in a conscripted basic military training environment

    Koh, Ta Chuia Jeremiah (2020) A multi-method approach to investigating psychological resilience in a conscripted basic military training environment. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    While research on psychological resilience has spanned almost five decades, discrepancies remain in the way the construct is conceptualised, operationalised, and measured. The can be attributed to the context-dependent nature of the construct; adversity experienced may vary across situations and populations, and positive adaptation is manifested differently under various conditions. As there is little research being carried out to examine psychological resilience in a conscripted military environment, this research was conducted with Army conscripted recruits from the Singapore Armed Forces to address the gap in knowledge. Specifically, this research focused on the basic military training (BMT) phase when recruits were newly enlisted. To better understand psychological resilience in the military context, a systematic review (Study 1) was first conducted to examine how military communities around the world had conceptualised, operationalised and measured psychological resilience. Subsequently, four studies were conducted to: (1) conceptualise and operationalise psychological resilience specifically in the BMT context; (2) measure the recruits’ psychological resilience in BMT; (3) assess the criterion validity of psychological resilience in BMT; and (4) examine how psychological resilience in BMT could be enhanced. Study 2, a qualitative study, examined what the recruits considered as adversities in BMT and what helped them to adapt positively. Thematic analysis using data from semi-structured interviews conducted with the recruits (n=22) elicited a number of themes which were then mapped to 10 psychological variables such as optimism, five skills including goal setting and three external sources of support (e.g., peer support), and these were found to have helped the recruits to adapt positively during BMT. Consequently, psychological resilience in BMT was conceptualised and operationalised as an internal capacity and psychological process. As an internal capacity, psychological resilience is made up of multiple internal psychological variables or protective factors (e.g., pride and optimism) and as a psychological process, it involves the recruits appraising the adversities and how internal and external protective factors facilitate them to adapt positively. To keep this research focused and to better understand the internal factors, Studies 3, 4 and 5 examined psychological resilience as an internal capacity. A questionnaire was subsequently developed to measure the internal psychological variables found in Study 2, and psychological resilience and performance in BMT. Study 3 found that the recruits’ (n=378) sense of pride, hope, perseverance, purpose and optimism were positively related to psychological resilience and performance in BMT as measured by self-report, peer appraisal and qualification for leadership training. Study 4 further found that psychological resilience in BMT was a higher-order construct that comprised pride, perseverance, purpose and optimism and it was also positively related to the recruits’ (n=437) performance. Finally, Study 5, a group randomised trial (GRT), examined whether psychological resilience in BMT could be enhanced with a targeted training intervention. The recruits in the treatment group (n=242) took lesson on how to enhance their pride, perseverance, purpose and optimism while the recruits in the control group (n=238) learnt deep breathing and visualisation. A 2 x 2 repeated measures factorial ANOVA was carried out using time of measurement (before and after intervention) and whether the recruits took part in the training intervention as the independent variables, and psychological resilience scores as the dependent variable. It was found that the recruits’ psychological resilience scores improved following the training for the treatment group but not for the control group. The theoretical and research implications, limitations of the research and possible future research directions, and implications for organisation practices are discussed in the concluding chapter of this thesis.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2021 13:51
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 14:58


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