Unit Morale: From a Theoretical Puzzle to an Empirical Illustration—An Israeli Example1


  • Col (RES'.) Reuven Gal Ph.D.

    1. Israeli Defence Forces
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    • 2

      Requests for reprints should be sent to Dr. Reuven Gal, Israeli Institute for Miitary Studies, P.O. Box 128, Zichron Ya'akov, 30900 Israel.

  • 1

    An earlier and shorter edition of this paper was presented as a Major Address in the Third International Conference on Psychological Stress and Adjustment in Time of War and Peace, Tel Aviv, Israel, January 1983. Portions of the research discussed in this paper were also presented at the Second Symposium on Motivation and Morale in NATO Forces, Brussels, May 1984.

  • This paper was prepared while the author served as an NRC Research Associate at the Department of Military Psychiatry, Division of Neuropsychiatry, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington, D.C. The author wishes to thank Linette Sparacino for her significant assistance in the manuscript preparation.


The concept of morale, within its military context, was explored in the present work from both its theoretical and practical aspects. Following a review of the concept's definitional and historical background, the data from a pre-war morale survey administered in May of 1981 to a large sample of Israeli combat troops were analyzed (by means of intercorrelations and factor analysis) as an illustration of the multifaceted structure of morale. While the intercorrelations revealed several major variables related strongly to morale, the factor analysis yielded eight factors, morale being just one of them. These eight factors were: (1) confidence in senior commanders; (2) confidence in one's self, team, and weapons; (3) unit cohesion and morale; (4) familiarity with missions and frontage; (5) confidence in immediate commanders; (6) enemy evaluation; (7) legitimacy of war; (8) worries and concerns. The present analysis may suggest the existence of a higher order concept—perhaps “unit climate”— of which all of the found factors, including morale, are the comprising components.