Published Airpower Journal - Fall 1992
Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.


Maj Martin L. Fracker, USAF

Attempts to exploit the psychological impact of aerial bombardment have a long history and remain central to Air Force doctrine.1 Examples include the firebombing of Dresden, the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the bombing of North Vietnam.2 Other examples might include the German bombing of London and the British bombing of German cities in World War II, as well as the coalition bombing of Iraqi soldiers in Operation Desert Storm.3 In at least one instance, psychological effect was a factor in aircraft design.4 Despite their history, the psychological effects of bombardment have received surprisingly little systematic study. As a result, a well-defined base of knowledge that could guide military planners in maximizing these psychological effects does not exist.

This article addresses this need by considering the effects of aerial bombardment on three distinct groups: civilians, national decision makers, and troops in the field. In each case, the discussion identifies psychological issues that are still unresolved and suggests research that might lead to their resolution.5

Effect of Bombing on Civilians

Early proponents of air power stressed the potent psychological effects of aerial bombing on the will of enemy civilians to resist. Giulio Douhet, for example, predicted that just two days of uninterrupted bombing with high-explosive, incendiary, and poison-gas bombs would send a city's population "fleeing to the open countryside to escape this terror from the air."6 Similarly, J. F. C. Fuller believed that an enemy could force Britain's surrender just by bombing London for 48 hours.7 In retrospect, these predictions seem less than cautious--witness the fact that the German bombing of London in the Second World War did not lead to British capitulation. Robin Higham, the eminent British air power historian, suggests that air power prophets such as Douhet and Fuller were simply guessing.8 But one must keep in mind that these visionaries worked from the data that was available at the time, especially information on the effects of German bombing raids in World War I. George Quester, a distinguished professor of military strategy who has taught at the National War College, notes that although these raids caused minimal physical damage, they had considerable psychological impact, inducing panicked Londoners to riot and even assault "Royal Flying Corps officers in the street for alleged failures to do their duty."9 If such were the effects of relatively light and ineffective bombing attacks, what would be the effects of continuous heavy bombing with incendiaries and gas? To theorists like Douhet and Fuller, the answer was all too obvious.

How then does one explain the failure of World War II bombing campaigns to cause Britons to rise up against their government and demand peace with the enemy? Some writers suggest that civilians are not as psychologically fragile as Douhet and Fuller assumed.10 But the answer cannot be that simple, for if the massive bombing of Britain could not crush the civilian psyche, then the minuscule campaigns of the First World War should have been even less effective--which seems to contradict the historical facts.11 Further, the United States Strategic Bombing Surveys concluded that the Allied bombing campaigns against both Germany and Japan were successful in demoralizing their civilian populations;12 in the case of the Germans, the bombing may even have turned them against their government.13

A more satisfying explanation is Quester's suggestion that the critical variable is not stoicism but expectancy. The bombings in the First World War were a complete surprise to the average British citizen. In the Second World War, the German bombardment again came as a surprise, but--according to Quester--British civilians were encouraged by the fact that poison gas was not used and that the effects of the bombing were much less severe than they had been led to expect.14 The Germans and Japanese, however, may have been misled by their governments into believing they were safe from air attack. Thus, when the attacks came, they began to believe that defeat was imminent.15

Experimental studies support Quester's expectancy hypothesis.16 One review of 54 experiments concludes that information that comes as a surprise is analyzed more thoroughly than is unsurprising information.17 Further, social psychologists have observed that people are more likely to try to analyze and explain unexpected events than they are expected ones.18 This fact may help to explain the impact of the 1968 Tet offensive on support of the American public for the Vietnam War. The offensive, which came as a surprise to most Americans, led them to reevaluate and finally reject American participation in the war.19 Thus, both experimental and historical evidences suggest that unexpectedly severe or mild air attacks may cause civilians to reassess their chances of winning the war.

Evidently, if aerial bombardments are to cause a civilian population to rebel against its government, then the ferocity and destructiveness of those attacks must exceed the population's expectations. This conclusion raises a number of questions, perhaps the most important of which is whether one can achieve the desired psychological effects only by attacking the civilian population directly. If so, then most nations with high moral standards are unlikely to use air power in this manner. On the other hand, perhaps one can obtain the same effect by attacking the enemy nation's economic infrastructure rather than its civilians. If so, then there is the problem of determining the target population's expectations (e.g., a worst-case nuclear nightmare or something less severe) and determining whether they can be exceeded. How much is enough to instill the necessary feelings of despair? Further, do other factors raise or lower this threshold? For example, weak commitment to the war's objectives could lower the threshold while anger in response to the bombing (i.e., reactance) could raise it.20 In addition, the populations of some cultures could have higher thresholds than those of other cultures. At present, these issues pose a challenge to air power theorists and planners.

How can these questions be answered? One approach would be to study populations of nations, such as Iraq, that have been subjected to significant air attacks. Although such studies are valuable, they have limitations. For instance, differences in culture and language may create problems, and researchers may encounter resistance from the population's government. Additionally, these studies represent only a single data point because they are obtained under a single set of circumstances. To fully answer the questions at issue, one must obtain many data points under a variety of circumstances. A more practical approach would be to conduct simulations or analog experiments.

Analog experiments study things that are analogous to one's true interest. This indirect, experimental approach is appropriate when a direct study of the subject is too difficult, dangerous, or expensive to conduct in a controlled, scientific manner. For example, clinical psychologists interested in agoraphobia do not have access to enough patients suffering from this disorder to conduct scientific evaluations of potential therapies. As an alternative, they conduct experiments on common fears such as stage fright and are then able to develop successful treatments for agoraphobia.21 Similarly, human-factors psychologists interested in aviation find that experiments on pilots in actual flight are too dangerous and that those in simulated flight are too expensive. But they are able to answer some questions safely and cheaply by conducting analog experiments on dual-axis tracking.22 Finally, political psychologists interested in international conflict obviously cannot conduct experiments on real nations. As a result, they turn to analog experiments on the Prisoner's Dilemma23 and are thus able to shed light on many issues, including the mechanisms underlying nuclear deterrence.24

These examples suggest that an experimental analog to aerial bombardment might also be possible. In one such experiment, civilian subjects would be asked to decide whether to vote for a president who has led the nation into war or for an opponent who promises to give up the war effort at once. One group of subjects would be led to expect massive, highly destructive bombing, while another group would be told that any air attacks are likely to be limited and ineffective. During the experiment, subjects would receive various "news reports" about what is happening in the war, including stories about aerial attacks against their community. For some subjects, these reports would describe the attacks as devastatingly effective; for others, the reports would describe them as ineffective. If Quester's expectancy hypothesis is correct, subjects for whom the air attacks exceed expectations should be more likely than the others to vote against the president. Similarly, subjects for whom the attacks are less effective than expected should be more likely to vote for the president.

Of course, this experiment is only one example. Variations of the same experiment could be designed to answer different questions. Variables could include the kind of enemy (democratic or totalitarian), the enemy's terms of surrender (limited or unconditional), the objectives of the war (expelling an invader or gaining access to raw materials), and so forth. With data from such studies, one could begin to describe the impact of bombing on civilians under many different sets of circumstances--and thus guide the planning of bombing campaigns in future wars.

Effect of Bombing
on National Decision Makers

Although Douhet prescribed direct attacks on civilians, his real target was not the enemy populace but its government, which he hoped would acquiesce to civilian pressure to make peace with the enemy at any price.25 As mentioned earlier, such attacks in the Second World War failed to live up to Douhet's predictions. In the case of the Germans, who apparently did turn against their government, the Nazi police state proved capable of suppressing any outward dissent.26 Perhaps for these reasons, recent history has seen aerial attacks intended to have a more direct effect on an enemy government's decisions. Among the clearest examples of such attacks were the major aerial campaigns of the Vietnam War: Rolling Thunder, Linebacker I, and Linebacker II.

Rolling Thunder (1965-68) and the two Linebacker (1972) campaigns differed markedly in their underlying strategies and in their effects. Rolling Thunder was a gradually escalating bombing campaign against the North Vietnamese punctuated by periodic halts to the bombing.27 The strategy underlying Rolling Thunder bears some resemblance to the so-called graduated and reciprocated initiatives in tension (GRIT) reduction strategy for conflict management first described by the pioneering political psychologist Charles Osgood in 1962.28 In GRIT-type strategies, one of two opposing sides announces a unilateral conciliatory gesture (e.g., the bombing halts) but threatens escalation if the opponent tries to exploit the situation. This strategy failed in Vietnam. Rather, the limited attacks early in Rolling Thunder only alerted the Vietnamese government to the need to improve its air defenses, and the bombing halts gave the government time to make those improvements.29 In marked contrast, the Linebacker operations were successful in convincing the North Vietnamese to accept a truce.30 Rejecting the GRIT-like strategy of Rolling Thunder, the Linebacker campaigns applied continuous, massive force against the North Vietnamese.

One might easily conclude from the Vietnam experience that GRIT-type bombing strategies are not effective in influencing the decision makers of an enemy nation and that only a massive, unrelenting bombing campaign would have the desired effect. Such a conclusion is congruent with Quester's expectancy hypothesis and raises the same questions noted earlier: How does one exceed the enemy's worst expectations? How far beyond those expectations will be enough? How is the threshold moderated by reactance, by the perceived value of the war's objectives, or by the population's cultural values and beliefs?31

On the other hand, one may be premature in concluding that only massive bombing can be effective. Considerable evidence indicates that GRIT-like strategies work under some circumstances. In addition to favorable results from analog experiments, political psychologists Philip Tetlock, Charles McGuire, and Gregory Mitchell point to the Austrian State Treaty of 1955 and the end of the cold war as examples of real-world GRIT success stories.32

Perhaps GRIT works only in the absence of overt violence or only when the belligerents are weakly committed to their objectives or only when public opinion favors a peaceful alternative to war. Evidently, these possibilities have not yet been tested by means of experiments. Yet, these hypotheses seem to lend themselves well to analog experimentation. For example, experimental subjects could compete with a programmed opponent for control over an initially neutral set of assets. In one condition, the competition could be peaceful; in another, subjects could compete by destroying assets initially belonging to the other. Or subjects in one condition could receive a large monetary reward if they win and a substantial penalty if they lose; in another condition, monetary rewards and penalties could be negligible. If a GRIT strategy works in the "war" or "high stakes" conditions, then subsequent research could compare GRIT to a Linebacker-like strategy using massive attacks. Still other experiments could examine whether GRIT works when simulated opinion polls favor a military solution. In any event, the results of such experiments could complement studies of historical experiences such as the Vietnam War.

Effect of Bombing on
Soldiers in Battle

Whatever enemy decision makers do, the soldier is the one who ultimately fights the war.33 Thus, the effect of air power on the soldier is of considerable importance. Yet, the psychological effect of aerial bombardment on soldiers is far from clear. The Canadian sociologist Anthony Kellett, in his monumental study of combat motivation in World War II, notes that air attack can induce nearly paralyzing shock but observes that there is no consensus on the persistence of this effect as soldiers gain combat experience.34 As Kellett discusses, British and American studies conducted during the war came to opposite conclusions. British studies found that repeated air attacks, which became increasingly frightening even though they did little real damage, seemed to sensitize soldiers to the shock effect. On the other hand, American studies indicated just the opposite: repeated attacks seemed to desensitize soldiers.

The disparity between the results of the British and American studies has yet to be resolved. On the one hand, some psychological theory supports the American desensitization hypothesis. For example, opponent process theories of motivation suggest that repeated exposure to a fearful stimulus will tend to elicit less fear over time.35 Further, in terms of Quester's expectancy hypothesis, repeated bombing experiences are likely to adjust soldiers' expectations until they match reality; future experiences are then likely to have less of a psychological impact. On the other hand, some research suggests that the British sensitization hypothesis may apply under some circumstances. Psychologist Steven Reiss notes that repeated exposure to a fearful stimulus can be either sensitizing or desensitizing, depending upon the exposure conditions.36 Similarly, clinical psychologist Zahava Solomon's research among Israeli soldiers indicates that sensitization occurs with some soldiers while desensitization occurs with others.37 Nevertheless, Solomon's bottom line seems to support the sensitization hypothesis. The data, he wrote, suggest that "repeated battery will eventually fell even the hardiest souls."38

Recent experience in the war with Iraq (Operation Desert Storm) supports either the sensitization or desensitization hypothesis. Consistent with the sensitization hypothesis, Lt Gen Charles Horner--coalition air component commander during Desert Storm--suggests that continuous bombardment by coalition forces was the principal reason Iraqi soldiers surrendered en masse without putting up any significant resistance.39 If so, the Iraqis clearly did not get used to the bombing. An alternative view more consistent with the desensitization hypothesis holds that the surrenders were induced by the realization that coalition ground forces had so easily penetrated Iraqi defenses. Those defenses had proven formidable enough in the earlier Iran-Iraq War to produce an eight-year stalemate. Thus, the rapid coalition breakthrough may well have come as a shock to the average Iraqi soldier. In keeping with Quester's expectancy hypothesis, this shock may have been sufficient to induce the Iraqi troops to surrender.

Evidently, we need research that clarifies the roles of sensitization and expectancy. Real-world studies like those reported by Solomon may seem ideal,40 but they face at least two limitations. First and most obvious is the infrequent occurrence of wars in which air power is a significant factor. For this reason, Solomon recognizes the need to consult "studies of psychological and somatic reactions to adversity in general," not just to combat.41 Second is the dependence of most real-world studies on soldiers' recollections and perceptions of their own states of mind.42 Psychologists have learned that such recollections and perceptions, though clearly useful, are often inaccurate.43 The same limitation would also apply to transcripts of the many thousands of prisoner-of-war interviews taken during the war with Iraq. Although we should study these transcripts, we cannot consider them definitive. Analog experiments may prove to be useful adjuncts in overcoming these two limitations.

Some questions about the effects of bombing on soldiers will defy analog study. There probably is no way to simulate the psychological experience of a soldier who is being bombed day and night. Nevertheless, other questions may be more amenable to investigation. For example, we could examine how repeated exposure to generic threats interacts with expectancies about those threats. To do so, we need a laboratory threat that is not actually dangerous.

One candidate for a "safe" threat makes use of the fact that noise of 75 decibels disrupts cognitive task performance, although it is considered acceptable by safety standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.44 Specifically, while being subjected to 75 decibels of noise, people would perform a cognitive task after being told that their performance will reflect their intellectual ability--a deception to which people are generally vulnerable.45 By threatening the subjects' performance, the noise would also threaten the subjects' self-image.46 (Of course, subjects would eventually be told the truth!)

To examine the Desert Storm question,47 one could have the subjects perform two tasks in succession. One group could be exposed to the noise during both tasks, while the other would be exposed only during the second task. If the sensitization hypothesis is correct, then the first group should perform more poorly on the second task, compared to the second group. Within each of these two groups, there could be three additional groups. They would differ only in the difficulty of the first task (easy, moderate, hard), and all groups would be told that the second task was equal in difficulty to the first. In reality, all three would receive the same moderately difficult second task. Thus, one group would find the second task unexpectedly hard, another unexpectedly easy, and the third about as expected. If the expectancy hypothesis is correct, then the "unexpectedly hard" group should perform more poorly than the other two.

Questions for a
Psychology of Air Power

After nearly eight decades of air power, we still lack research that defines the psychological effects of aerial bombardment. Nations have used air power in the hope that enemy populations would rise up against their governments, that enemy governments would decide to abandon the war, or that enemy troops would lose their will to fight. These psychological goals have often proved elusive, largely because the psychological effects of bombardment are not well understood. This article has identified several questions about these effects. In general terms, these questions focus on three issues. First, under what conditions will aerial bombardment cause civilians to rise up against their government and demand peace with the enemy? Second, can only massive, unrelenting bombing campaigns persuade enemy decision makers to abandon the use of force, or can GRIT-type strategies sometimes achieve the same goal? Third, are repeated bombing attacks the key to producing paralyzing fear in soldiers, or are other factors more important?

Although theoretical perspectives relevant to these issues vary, a common theme emerges: the role of expectancies. Civilians and decision makers might abandon the war effort only when bombing attacks are much worse than expected. Soldiers might become desensitized to air attack once they know what to expect from such attacks. In each case, disrupting people's expectancies may be the key to their psychological defeat. Yet, these expectancy effects may vary depending upon other factors, such as the perceived value of the war's objectives, reactance to the enemy attack, or the cultural values of a population. If so, then we need research that develops and elaborates a model of how the different factors interact to produce people's responses to bombardment.

Finally, the article has discussed research capable of addressing these issues. Although studies of real-world wartime experience are ideal, they are necessarily limited by the infrequency with which major wars occur. Further, such studies represent what happened under only one specific set of circumstances. Making generalizations about future wars could be impossible.48 As we have seen, analog experiments could help by complementing real-world studies. Other experiments may be possible and certainly will be needed. For example, none of the experiments described above addresses the cross-cultural question of whether people in different societies will respond to bombing differently. Nevertheless, this article has identified a place to begin. Now we must undertake the effort.


1. Air Force Manual (AFM) 1-1, Basic Aerospace Doctrine of the United States Air Force, 16 March 1984, urges the exploitation of bombardment's psychological impact on an enemy's armed forces, people, and allies (page 2-17).

2. See Robin Higham, Air Power: A Concise History (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1972), on the firebombing of Dresden (page 135); Air Marshal Sir Robert Saunby, Air Bombardment: The Story of Its Development (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1961), on the atomic attacks against Japan (page 205); and Guenter Lewy, America in Vietnam (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), on the bombing of North Vietnam (pages 374 and 414).

3. Germany's primary objective in bombing London seems to have been military rather than psychological. Hitler apparently hoped to force the Royal Air Force into the sky where it could be destroyed (Higham, page 121). Nevertheless, it would be surprising if Hitler did not also hope that the bombing would destroy the British population's will to resist. Regarding the British bombing campaigns, the main British objective seems to have been the destruction of German industry (Higham, pages 130-36). Nevertheless, during the interwar years, British military planners assumed that enemy bombing of British cities would severely panic the population and force an early surrender (George C. Quester, "The Psychological Effects of Bombing on Civilian Populations: Wars of the Past," in Psychological Dimensions of War, ed. B. Glad [Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage, 1990], 204). Thus, one would expect the British to have at least considered the psychological effects on the German population when they planned the Battle of Germany. Regarding the B-52 bombings in Desert Storm, see the discussion of the effects of bombing on soldiers later in this article.

4. Anthony Kellett, Combat Motivation: The Behavior of Soldiers in Battle (Boston: Kluwer-Nijhoff, 1982), 256. Kellett notes that the German Junkers Ju 87 "Stuka" dive-bomber was designed to shock as much as to destroy the enemy and was in fact better at the former than the latter.

5. I do not assume that the reader has any special background in modern scientific psychology. For the most part, I have avoided technical terminology, but the nature of the article requires reference to some psychological concepts that may be unfamiliar to some readers. In those instances, I have provided brief explanations in the notes.

6. Giulio Douhet, The Command of the Air, trans. Dino Ferrari (1942; new imprint, Washington, D.C.: Office of Air Force History, 1983), 58.

7. J. F. C. Fuller, The Reformation of War (New York: Dutton, 1923), 150.

8. Higham, 48.

9. Quester, 203.

10. For example, see Higham, 10.

11. Quester, 201-14.

12. The United States Strategic Bombing Surveys (European War [and] Pacific War) (30 September 1945, 1 July 1946; reprint, Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press, October 1987), 39, 95.

13. Ibid., 12.

14. Quester, 205.

15. The United States Strategic Bombing Surveys, 39, 95.

16. See Quester.

17. Charles Stagnor and David McMillan, "Memory for Expectancy-Congruent and Expectancy-Incongruent Information: A Review of the Social and Social Developmental Literatures," Psychological Bulletin 111 (1992): 43-61.

18. Gerd Bohner et al., "What Triggers Causal Attributions? The Impact of Valence and Subjective Probability," European Journal of Social Psychology 18 (1988): 335-48.

19. Lewy, 76. Though not a bombing campaign, the Tet offensive illustrates the dramatic psychological impact that surprising military action can have on civilians.

20. By way of analogy, the Tet offensive might not have proved so effective in undermining US public support had the population been more strongly committed to the war's goals (cf. Christopher D. Wickens, Engineering Psychology and Human Performance [Columbus, Ohio: Merrill, 1984], 101-6). A good counterexample is the American public's response to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The angry determination to defeat Japan illustrates the concept of reactance, the tendency to increase one's commitment to a goal or behavior in reaction to social pressure to do just the opposite (see Robert A. Baron and Donn Byrne, Social Psychology: Understanding Human Interaction [Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1991], 162; and Jack W. Brehm, A Theory of Psychological Reactance [New York: Academic Press, 1966]).

21. Geoffrey L. Thorpe and Sheryl L. Olson, Behavior Therapy: Concepts, Procedures, and Applications (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1990), 89.

22. That is, two simultaneous single-axis tracking tasks. In single-axis tracking, subjects use a joystick and try to keep an error indicator centered on a "zero-error" position. In most experiments, the error cursor moves along the tracking axis in what appears to be a completely random way, and the subject's job is to compensate for each of these movements. In dual-axis tracking, the two axes may both be vertical or horizontal, but more often one is vertical and the other horizontal (see Wickens, 422-45).

23. A social dilemma game. Suppose two fugitives are arrested by the police and interrogated separately. If one confesses and the other does not, then the one who confessed goes free while the other receives a 10-year sentence. If both confess, then each receives a five-year term. If neither confesses, then both receive a one-year sentence. Obviously, both prisoners would be better off trusting each other and not confessing. In the typical experiment, however, both "prisoners" (usually, volunteer college students) confess. See Anatol Rapoport, Experimental Games and Their Uses in Psychology (Morristown, N.J.: General Learning Press, 1973); and Luc Reychler, "The Effectiveness of a Pacifist Strategy in Conflict Resolution," Journal of Conflict Resolution 23 (1979): 228-60.

24. Philip E. Tetlock, Charles B. McGuire, and Gregory Mitchell, "Psychological Perspectives on Nuclear Deterrence," Annual Review of Psychology 42 (1991): 239-76.

25. Douhet, 58.

26. The United States Strategic Bombing Surveys, 12.

27. Lewy, 374.

28. Charles E. Osgood, An Alternative to War or Surrender (Champaign-Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 1962).

29. Lewy, 393.

30. Ibid., 410-17.

31. Carl von Clausewitz, On War, ed. and trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1976), 80-81.

32. See Tetlock, McGuire, and Mitchell. The Austrian State Treaty of 1955 ended the Allied occupation of Austria and guaranteed Austria's military neutrality.

33. The term soldier is used here to denote any member of the armed forces, including airmen, sailors, and marines. One should note, however, that all of the research reviewed herein appears to have been conducted among ground forces.

34. Kellett, 254-57.

35. Richard L. Solomon and John D. Corbit, "An Opponent-Process Theory of Motivation: I. Temporal Dynamics of Affect," Psychological Review 81 (1974): 119-45.

36. Steven Reiss, "Pavlovian Conditioning and Human Fear: An Expectancy Model," Behavior Therapy 11 (1990): 380-96.

37. Zahava Solomon, "Does the War End When the Shooting Stops? The Psychological Toll of War," Journal of Applied Social Psychology 20 (1990): 1733-45.

38. Ibid., 1738.

39. Lt Gen Charles A. Horner, "The Air Campaign," Military Review 71, no. 9 (September 1991): 16-27.

40. See Zahava Solomon.

41. Ibid., 1737.

42. See Kellett; Norman A. Milgram, Ruth Orenstein, and Ezer Zafrir, "Stressors, Personal Resources, and Social Supports in Military Performance during Wartime," Military Psychology 1 (1989): 185-200; Joseph Schwarzwald et al., "Validation of the Impact of Event Scale for Psychological Sequelae of Combat," Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 55 (1987): 251-56; Zahava Solomon, Mario Mikulincer, and Stevan E. Hobfoll, "Effects of Social Support and Battle Intensity on Loneliness and Breakdown during Combat," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 51 (1986): 1269-76; and Zahava Solomon, Mario Mikulincer, and Stevan E. Hobfoll, "Objective versus Subjective Measurement of Stress and Social Support: Combat-Related Reactions," Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 55 (1987): 577-83.

43. Timothy D. Wilson, "Strangers to Ourselves: The Origins and Accuracy of Beliefs about One's Own Mental States," in Attribution: Basic Issues and Applications, ed. John H. Harvey and Gifford Weary (New York: Academic Press, 1985), 9-36. See also Martin L. Fracker, Measures of Situation Awareness: Review and Future Directions, Report No. AL-TR-1991-0128 (Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio: Armstrong Laboratory, Crew Systems Directorate, October 1991), 8, 16-21; and Martin L. Fracker and Sharon A. Davis, Explicit, Implicit, and Subjective Rating Measures of Situation Awareness in a Monitoring Task, Report No. AL-TR-1991-0091 (Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio: Armstrong Laboratory, Crew Systems Directorate, July 1991), 19. The last two studies found that self-report measures of situation awareness sometimes contradicted more objective measures.

44. Mark S. Sanders and Ernest J. McCormick, Human Factors in Engineering and Design (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1987), 468-70.

45. Mario Mikulincer, "Attributional Processes in the Learned Helplessness Paradigm: Behavioral Effects of Global Attributions," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 51 (1986): 1248-56.

46. Ibid.

47. That is, what caused the mass surrenders: constant bombing or the unexpected coalition breakthrough? See the preceding discussion.

48. For a congruent view, see Michael Howard, "Military Science in an Age of Peace," RUSI: Journal of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Sciences 119 (March 1974): 3-11.


Maj Martin L. Fracker (BA, Seattle Pacific University; MS, Western Washington University; PhD, University of Illinois) is a faculty member at Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. Previously, he was a program manager with the Crew Systems Directorate, Armstrong Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, and an occupational analyst with the US Air Force Occupational Measurement Center, Randolph AFB, Texas. Major Fracker is a graduate of Squadron Officer School and Air Command and Staff College.


The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.

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