Military Enlistment and Family Dynamics: Youth and Parental Perspectives
Military Paychology, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 31-49, 2000
19 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2011
Date Written: October 23, 2000
In 1987, data were collected on 2,731 young men and their parents as part of the Army Communications Objectives Measurement System (ACOMS) survey to understand factors associated with military enlistment and to evaluate military advertising. The ACOMS data are unique because parents and children are linked, which allows researchers to analyze the influence of parental attitudes and behaviors on the enlistment decision independently of youth reports of their parents’ attitudes. Results indicate that the youths’ perceptions of parental attitudes toward the military and reported parental attitudes correlate at a low level (.14 to .22) showing that youth perceptions of parental attitudes cannot function as a proxy for actual parental attitudes. This may reflect a failure of parents to communicate clearly their attitudes or a failure of children to interpret them accurately. Results also indicate that (a) youth perceptions of parental attitudes predict stated enlistment propensity, which predicts military enlistment, and (b) reported parental attitudes predict military enlistment independently of youth-stated enlistment propensity. The analyses suggest that military enlistment might be enhanced through (a) fostering youth perceptions that competent parents have positive views of the military, (b) fostering positive parental attitudes by educating parents about military benefits and lifestyle, (c) using reports of positive parental attitudes as an indicator of their child’s positive military enlistment propensity, and (d) actively involving parents in the enlistment process.
Keywords: Enlistment Propensity, Military, ACOMS, Parental Attitudes, Marketing, Behavior, Influence
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