How is the military changing you

Character study: military service makes men permanently less social

Service in the military can change people. How much can be seen most dramatically in those who return from missions with a post-traumatic stress disorder: Confident young soldiers then become frightened, frightened and sometimes quite aggressive civilians.

Of the around 2,370 German soldiers on missions abroad, this affected a total of 1,602 last year - significantly more than in 2013, when it had been 1,423.

But military service also shapes and changes the personality of soldiers who do not even go abroad, as a study by Joshua Jackson from Washington University in St. Louis shows.

The investigation was carried out in 2012, but has received little attention so far. Jackson, together with scientists at the University of Tübingen, spent more than six years studying the personal development of young men who went to the armed forces for a year after graduating from high school - and contrasted them with their peers who instead opted for community service.

More aggressive and uncooperative

The researchers first found that the personality of those doing community service and those who preferred to join the armed forces differed when they made the decision. The Bundeswehr soldiers were emotionally more stable and generally more open to new experiences, but also more aggressive, more competitive than cooperative, and cared less about the feelings of others.

"You are less warm and friendly than others from the start," says Jackson, "and the military seems to reinforce these personality traits."