Better soldiers will come from using behavioural sciences
The 2014 Defence Review describes the African peace climate as “persistently troubled” making the continent an ideal candidate for behavioural sciences research, an avenue the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR’s) behavioural science capability is geared to in both soldier selection and support programmes. Adelai van Heerden, manager of the behavioural research group, said: “In the face of severe political, ethnic, cultural, tribal, linguistic and religious tensions in Africa, its defence forces are required to not only master sophisticated weapons and systems, but also to have a comprehensive understanding of culture, customs and languages”. Building on techniques developed within the specialised African military domain over more than a decade, the CSIR is offering African solutions within military domains for specific requirements. One specific area of research looks at testing applicants wanting to join a specialised military force.
By assessing mental toughness and physical endurance and strength, behavioural scientists are able to predict if the applicant is better suited as an operator or in a management role.