(Photo:Flickr/US Army Africa)

The mental health changes that can occur when a soldier comes back from war have been well-documented by this point, but a new study reveals that active service can also alter male veterans’ personalities.

The researchers found that before setting off for duty, those who served in the military typically worried less than those in civilian service. They were also more apt to disagree.

Study author Joshua J. Jackson described them as  “less warm and cooperative interpersonally.”

Participants were given personality tests two years later, once their tours in military or civilian service were complete:

“…[M]en who chose to go into the military, while they were more agreeable two years later than they’d been before, were less agreeable than their peers who didn’t do military service. Four years later, after many of the men had gone on to university or into the workforce, they were still less agreeable if they’d spent nine months in the military.”

Jackson says of the results: “I cannot say if it’s good or bad, but it shows that these individuals — who, by and large, did not face any combat — had experiences in basic training that likely shaped the way they approach the world. The changes in personality were small, but over time, they could have important ramifications for the men’s lives.”

Source: Association for Psychological Science

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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