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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Christopher J Graver, PhD, ABPP-CN(Madigan Healthcare System)
Description: The need for psychological services within the purview of national security has been expanding in recent decades. This book provides an overview of the different roles psychologists have within the government, particularly as it pertains to the armed forces.
Purpose: The purpose of this book is to survey the development of psychology in the service of national security. This is accomplished through closer looks at the contributions of psychology in areas such as human performance, personnel selection, clinical treatment, and applied social psychology.
Audience: According to the authors, this book is targeted at a broad audience that includes anyone interested in psychology's role in personnel assessment, leadership, resource management, instruction, and other areas. It is written at an appropriate level for the general reader, but is probably too simplistic for readers within the field of psychology.
Features: Introductory chapters cover basic aspects of national security. The second section addresses the history behind psychology's involvement in the assessment of human performance and current needs within this realm (e.g., psychophysics, cognitive performance, human factors). Later chapters discuss personnel selection in various branches of the armed forces and for various types of duty (e.g., submarine, aviation, special ops). Each chapter has clear subheadings that make it easy to browse particular topics. The book is generally a descriptive account of the activities of psychologists within the framework of national security. The empirical support of these activities is less apparent. While some studies are referenced, there is generally nothing more than a brief sentence describing the main finding. In addition, figures and tables are practically nonexistent. Readers also will discover that certain phrases are frequently repeated verbatim, which can be exasperating (e.g., the same sentence is repeated in the introduction, the prologue of section 1, and the first paragraph of chapter 1). Nonetheless, the references are generally current and the index is helpful.
Assessment: For the intended audience of general readers, this book provides an interesting survey of the historical underpinnings of psychology in government service, as well as current needs and practices. It is succinct and yet manages to cover many facets of this unique role. The book provides a real appreciation for the extensive involvement and often unnoticed contributions of psychology in the service of national security.