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Assessing the “Good Life” in a Military Context: How Does Life and Work-Satisfaction Relate to Orientations to Happiness and Career-Success Among Swiss Professional Officers?

Abstract

The study examines work- and life satisfaction along with orientation to happiness, and their relation to subjective but also objective career success, among Swiss military professional officers. They frequently report worsening of their working conditions due to two reforms that have recently been conducted. A total of N = 221 Swiss career officers (mainly Land Forces; from Colonel to First Lieutenant) completed several questionnaires in an online survey. As expected, pleasure, engagement and meaning were positively related to satisfaction with life and the meaningful life also correlated with the (overall) work satisfaction. Higher subjective career success was related to higher satisfaction with life, content-related aspects of work satisfaction, and higher endorsements to the engaged and the meaningful life. Belonging to the general staff was considered as an objective criterion of career success and those who were in the general staff, were higher in their overall work satisfaction, content-related aspects of their work and, again, higher inclination to the life of engagement and the life of meaning. The study suggests that variables of positive psychological functioning are useful additions in the field of military psychology and that they might hold a key for the development of strategies for improving both, work- and life satisfaction among military personnel.

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Notes

  1. Switzerland has four official languages—namely, French, German, Italian, and Romansh. As a general guideline, it can be stated that German is spoken by more than two thirds of the population, French by a fifth and the rest Italian and Romansh, while the latter is only spoken by a small minority (less than one percent). In this first examination of the topic, we decided to focus on the officers of German mother tongue.

  2. Belonging to general staff is, of course, not independently from the years spent in duty in the Army. Therefore, we also computed partial correlations between the belonging to general staff-variable and the variables involved in the mean comparisons, controlling for the years spent in duty. The results led to highly comparable results. Most notably, the meaningful life (r = −0.17, p < 0.05) and the content-related aspects of work (r = −0.22, p < 0.01) were related to being a member of the general staff.

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Correspondence to René T. Proyer.

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Proyer, R.T., Annen, H., Eggimann, N. et al. Assessing the “Good Life” in a Military Context: How Does Life and Work-Satisfaction Relate to Orientations to Happiness and Career-Success Among Swiss Professional Officers?. Soc Indic Res 106, 577–590 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-011-9823-8

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Keywords

  • Engagement
  • Life satisfaction
  • Meaning
  • Military psychology
  • Pleasure
  • Work satisfaction