PSYCHOLOGY AIDED IN WAR
"RIGHT MAN IN RIGHT PLACE" AIM OF GOVERNMENT EXPERTS.
The main problem which was before the psychologists in the Great War was to put "the right man in the right place" and to place him quickly. For this purpose, several co-ordinate methods were devised, the most interesting being the psychological tests, the trade tests, the classification system, and the rating scale.
Psychological tests had to be selected which could be given to literates as well as illiterates, which could be used in group examination, and which could be easily scored. About two million officers and enlisted men were examined, and of these five-tenths percent were recommended for rejection or discharge, and one and two-tenths percent for service organizations and development battalions. Many of these men would have been detected by general observation in the course of time, but the tests furnished objective data at once upon which to base an opinion. They also obviated the necessity of judging a man by his face and other marks of intelligence. In the various officers' groups, the engineers ranked first, being followed by field artillery, trench mortar, personnel adjutants, and ambulance company officers.
Engineer Officers Rank First.
A scale arranged according to occupational intelligence standards ranks the engineer officers first; they are followed by army chaplains, medical officers, Y. M. C. A. secretaries, civil engineers, accountants, etc. The lowest in the scale are the teamsters, general miners, cobblers, tailors, and laborers. It must be remembered that this is a ranking of such occupations in the Army and probably does not hold in general, for the most intelligent men of a certain trade may have been exempted from the draft on industrial grounds.
Men Classified by Trade Tests.
The trade tests were for the purpose of ascertaining how much a man knew about the trade in which he claimed to be proficient. A series of examination questions were prepared for each trade, covering specific technical points with which only a man of that trade could be expected to be familiar. He was also given certain practical problems and was classified by means of his score as expert, apprentice, etc., and placed accordingly in the Army organization.
It became evident in the beginning of the war when demands came to Washington for cooks, lumbermen, carpenters, etc., that it would be necessary to know where the men with such qualifications could be found. For that purpose, the Committee on Classification of Personnel was employed in classifying and placing three and one-half million men according to occupation, trade, scale, schooling, intellectual ability, etc. This committee also provided tables of occupational needs and of the specifications and personnel for the various trades. In this invaluable work the executive ability and common sense of the psychologist was of more importance than their special technical knowledge.
Formerly officers were promoted and selected for special schools by seniority, alphabetically, and through the personal judgment of their superiors. In order to base promotion more upon actual merit than upon chance judgment and personal bias, a rating scale was formed on the principle of ranking officers of one's acquaintance according to certain characteristics, giving each individual so many points according to whether he was best, medium, or worst, and using them as a scale for selection of the men to be promoted. In this way one had concrete and definite examples or standards rather than vague notions and intuitions. One's judgment is usually based on a comparison of the unknown with the known. Instinctively one compares Captain X with Captain A. The method systematizes this procedure.
A number of special problems have engaged the attention of the psychologists, such as the examination of aviators, the selection and training of telegraphers, the emotional fitness of the soldier, and the general factors of military education. In the Navy the psychologist was able to render valuable service in the selection and training of gunners, listeners, and lookouts, and in the distribution and assignment of men in the gun-fire squad.
Recently investigations have been made upon the subject of morale, and at present many psychologists are engaged on problems of re-education and rehabilitation.
The methods developed by the psychological examiners and the Committee on Classification will be useful in the industrial and educational fields. In the investigation of special problems much has been learned of theoretical value to the science itself