ATTITUDES OF PERSONNEL OFFICERS TOWARD MALES BASED ON THE LATTER'S VIETNAM ERA VETERANS' STATUS, RACE, AND EDUCATIONAL LEVEL

MICHAEL ARCHANGEL D'ANTON, Fordham University

Abstract

Many Vietnam Era veterans have maintained that they have been the focus of negative attitudes by the American people because of their service in the Vietnam War. As a result, they charge that they have been discriminated against by personnel officers who have the power to exercise these negative attitudes in the employment sector. A great deal of the evidence to support the charge of negative attitudes has been impressionistic (Figley, 1978; Kovic, 1976; Polner, 1971; Strayer & Ellenhorn, 1975; United States Veterans Administration, Note 1). Studies (Doyle, 1978; Harris, 1972, 1979, 1980) that have attempted to corroborate this charge statistically suffer from serious methodological and statistical flaws that may render the findings suspect.^ The development of these negative attitudes may be explained by Cognitive Dissonance Theory (Festinger, 1957). In previous American wars veterans were viewed favorably by the general populace. In the Vietnam War, however, a state of dissonance developed between the initial popularity of the Vietnam Era veteran and the later unpopularity of the war. Camacho (1980), Carter (1978), Figley (1978, 1979), Freidel (1980), Lifton (1973), Polner (1971) and Figley (Note 2) contend that the dissonance was reduced by a change in attitudes toward the Vietnam Era veteran. They stated that the development of negative attitudes was aided by the popular stereotype of the Vietnam Era veteran.^ Conversely, Worthington (1977, 1978) asserted that extra-service variables, such as race and educational background, and not military service in Vietnam caused the readjustment and unemployment problems of Vietnam Era veterans. Through "Project 100,000," 372,500 "underprivileged" men, 40% of whom were black and 60% of whom had lower than average mental ability, were drafted from 1966-1969.^ The purpose of this study was to investigate the charge of discrimination against Vietnam Era veterans by personnel officers. A questionnaire using a modified Semantic Differential (Osgood, Suci, & Tannenbaum, 1957) was developed to assess the attitudes of personnel officers toward the 12 descriptions of males used in this study. The descriptions rotated three types of Vietnam Era veterans' status (Vietnam Combat veteran, Vietnam Era veteran, and Non-Veteran), two types of racial classification (black and white), and two levels of educational achievement (High School Graduate and Completed 10th grade). Each of the 547 respondents, all of whom were members of the American Society for Personnel Administration, rated one of the 12 descriptions by means of the modified Semantic Differential.^ An analysis of variance was performed on the attitude scores of personnel officers to detect any significant differences between the main effects (Vietnam Era veterans' status, race, and educational level) and the interaction of these variables. Secondly, analyses of variance were conducted on the five factor scores (evaluative, stability, success, emotional satisfaction and potency) of the personnel officers toward the descriptions. Finally, analyses of variance were conducted on the attitude scores of personnel officers, by their selected demographic groups.^ There were no significant differences in the mean attitude scores of personnel officers toward Vietnam Combat veterans, Vietnam Era veterans, and Non-Veterans. Conversely, personnel officers did have significant negative attitudes toward black males and high school drop-outs. Military service during the Vietnam Era increased the acceptability of black males by the personnel officers.^ Much of the literature concerning the Vietnam Era veteran has been impressionistic. It is suggested that controlled research be conducted in all areas of post-Vietnam adjustment. It would be useful to replicate this study with other personnel officer and managerial samples, as well as with samples drawn from Veterans Administration employees. ^

Subject Area

Social psychology

Recommended Citation

D'ANTON, MICHAEL ARCHANGEL, "ATTITUDES OF PERSONNEL OFFICERS TOWARD MALES BASED ON THE LATTER'S VIETNAM ERA VETERANS' STATUS, RACE, AND EDUCATIONAL LEVEL" (1981). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8120073.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8120073

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