Military psychology in the Israel defense forces: A perspective of continuity and change

Uzi Ben-Shalom, Shaul Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The current article describes the development of military psychology in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Based on mixed methodology, including in-depth interviews and secondary analyses, continuities and discontinuities in the work of military psychologists are presented. Four phases of development are identified: "establishment of the military" (1947-1966), "decentralization" (1967-1982), "the small wars era" (1982-1999), and "expanded scope" (2000-present). Each phase generated a distinct military psychologist identity: "social scientist," "field practitioner," "organizational development expert," and "operational behavioral scientist." These identities are amassed cumulatively, so that new identities do not contradict previous ones. The four phases of development are compared according to several dimensions. Significant discontinuities include a change in theoretical perspectives, gender composition, and research methodology. Working style during conflict is notably continuous, characterized by bottom-up initiatives. Possible sources leading to the paradigmatic shifts are presented, and an "evolution model" of synthesis is suggested. This model stresses the social challenges facing the IDF and its relevant psychological practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-119
Number of pages17
JournalArmed Forces and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Evolution of military psychology
  • IDF
  • Israel Defense Forces
  • Military psychology
  • Military sociology


Dive into the research topics of 'Military psychology in the Israel defense forces: A perspective of continuity and change'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this