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< Articles by Julian Jaynes

Toward A Psychology of Morale

Julian Jaynes
The Journal of General Psychology, 1944, 31(2): 287-291.


Orignally, "morale" referred to the "ethical tone" of an individual. But in the last 20 years, the term has come to be applied more nad more to the individual's relationship with a society. Therefore, to avoid the many confuing pitfalls in this subject, we are restricting the term to this meaning. We are not discussing mere solidarity in a community, nor team-work in an homogeneous occupational group, nor the effect of discipline and regimentation in the armed forces; these are all problems in themselves and, though related, are quite distinct from societal morale. The problem we are posing is: given a society where some sort of corporate action is necessary, what is the psychological process denoted by the term "morale?"

We shall adopt Mead's theory of the social self. The individual first incorporates the attitudes of others into himself as standards of action; secondly, he organizes these attitudes into what Mead calls the "generalized other." This is done by generalizing the particular attitudes of the first stage in terms of the individual's characteristic role. As Mead says:

So the self reaches its full development ... by thus becoming an individual reflection of the general systematic pattern of social or group behavior in which it and the others are well involved - a pattern which enters as a whole into the individual's experience in terms of these organzied group attitudes which ... he takes toward himself, just as he takes the individual attitudes of others (3, p. 158).

It is the generalized-other which unifies the self and becomes the ultimate censor over the individual's acts - the frame through which he responds in social activity.

In a simple social group, the generalized-other approaches a pattern of fixed roles. A material illustration is seen in the wooden cut-out of a soldier at the recruiting center in Victoria Square, Montreal; beneath the cut-out is the slogan, "Do You Measure Up?"; and each new recruit fits himself into the cut-out as a symbol of his willingness to conform to a social type. But as the individual expands beyond his community-group and becomes ...