Studies are being conducted all over the country looking at all aspects of the military. Everything from the military leadership styles, long term effects of military service, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and cultural awareness in military operations. These studies span a wide range of social sciences, but are all focused on helping our warriors maintain their health and effectiveness before, during, and after deployments.
Andrea Wolfe, who is also a First Lieutenant (1Lt) in the United States Air Force, is collecting data from former and current military members of all branches who have deployed to Iraq and/or Afghanistan. Her study is part of 1Lt Wolfe’s thesis research for her Master’s Degree in Social Psychology at the University of Oregon. As an active duty Air Force officer trained in Psychological Operations by the Army at Ft. Bragg and funded by Air Force Institute of Technology, Lt Wolfe chose to focus her research on an area that is central to the military: deployments.
1Lt Wolfe’s research is attempting to understand the dynamics of conducting successful face to face communication with local civilians and leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan. The results of the research will be presented to the US military for use in the creation of a more robust pre-deployment training program. The research specifically is looking for current and former military personnel who have had direct contact with the local civilians in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. Each soldier shares their experience by taking a 15 – 25 minute survey. The survey is available online and all personnel who meet the stated criteria are encouraged to participate.
One of the major goals of the research is to provide quantitative research on influence andcommunications in a deployed environment for the military. Specifically, 1Lt Wolfe is focusing on a basic form of not only influence, but also communications, to determine whatfactors contribute to success and failure between US soldiers and civilians within Iraq and Afghanistan. The recommendations from this study will hopefully be used to create more effective communication and cultural training helping prepare our men and women on the ground.
The following interview with 1Lt Andrea Wolfe was conducted to help highlight the goals and meaning behind this important research.
Q: Could you briefly introduce yourself you our readers?
A: I went to Penn State (WE ARE!) as an undergrad where I studied psychology with a minor in biology and commissioned through their ROTC program. I don’t come from a military family
Q: How long have you served in the United States Air Force?
A: 3.5 years
Q: Can you provide a brief chronological list of your assignments and deployments during your career?
A: My first duty station was Mesa Research Lab in AZ where I learned about the AF from a very high level perspective. I was the Deputy Team Lead for Air and Space Operations Center training research where I traveled to the Middle East and throughout CONUS and developed research exercises.
The University of Oregon is my second assignment. When I graduate I’ve volunteered for a deployment with the Army where I will hopefully be able to put my research to use! Then I am scheduled to teach in the Behavioral Sciences and Leadership Department at the United States Air Force Academy.
Q: How long have you been a student at the University of Oregon?
A: 12 months out of an 18 month program
Q: Could you provide the readers a brief explanation of what Social Psychology is?
A: Most people associate clinical psychology with psychology, but there are many different areas. Social psychology focuses on the interactions between people and groups. My research examines the interaction of cultural groups (US, Iraqi, and Afghan) and military and civilian groups.
Q: What got you interested in conducting research into the topic of your research?
A: My Army PSYOP training provided a new way to apply my psychology degree, as well as opportunity to deploy. I wanted to study something that would make me a better PSYOP officer and advance the field. In my last assignment, I learned the value of talking to experts in a given field to guide the development of training.
Q: Could you briefly describe the benefits of perusing your Master’s Degree at the University of Oregon?
A: Advanced degrees are an opportunity to become a better officer by studying the field in which you work. The University of Oregon’s program allowed me the freedom to study an area where there is little ongoing research, and brilliant and supportive faculty who helped shape the scope of my research.
Q: Could you briefly describe the Psychology of War Lab and how it works?
A: It is a new area of research under the direction of Dr. Holly Arrow. It is an avenue to look at various aspects of psychology in a wartime environment.
Q: If there was one message you would want me to give the 2000+ soldiers and veterans that will read this interview, what do you want them to know?
A: First, I am honored to have my research presented to such a knowledgeable audience. I hope to learn from those who have served before me, and use their experiences to better prepare today’s military. That is what my survey is all about.
Q: 1Lt Wolfe, I wish to thank you for taking the time to conduct this interview. I wish you the best of luck in your research, your thesis, and your career. I am a retired First Sergeant (fifteen years Special Forces) not a journalist and though I hope my writing career will one day takeoff I must use my limited skills to ask you the questions you have so graciously taken the time to answer. Therefore, thank you for your time and survey which I found most enlightening.
A: Thank you! I appreciate your service, and the opportunity to share my research with your readers.
For anyone interested in assisting 1Lt Wolfe with her research by taking the online survey, you can access it through the website http://psychologyofwar.uoregon.edu// . The goal for her data collection is to have research project is to have 500 participants share their deployment experiences by 10 September 2010. If you or someone you know has been deployed to Iraq and/or Afghanistan, please take the survey and send it to your colleagues.
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