, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 427-448

Military Service and Self-Perceived Maturation Among Israeli Youth

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Self-perceived maturation related to service in the Israeli army was analyzed according to gender, rank, service trajectory (type of unit for men and role for women) and the environment of socialization (urban vs. kibbutz). Respondents attributed to their military service increasing independence, self-confidence, self-control, efficacy, self-awareness, social sensitivity, and ability for intimate relationships. Greater change was perceived in the instrumental rather than in the expressive direction of maturity. Unexpectedly, only few significant gender differences were shown. Effects that are more significant were found related to rank (an advantage to officers), trajectory (an advantage to servicemen in the infantry and servicewomen who graduated from premilitary courses), and the socialization environment (an advantage to kibbutz-born soldiers, mainly in the more expressive dimension of maturation). We conclude that army service contributes to the maturation of Israeli youth, and that maturation is moderately affected by the quality of service and the predispositions that conscripts carry into the army. Results indicate that the arguments for the nonmoratorial nature of military service need revision.