Basic Combat Training: Stress & Improving Mood

Research Paper Title

Improved Mood State and Absence of Sex Differences in Response to the Stress of Army Basic Combat Training.


It is reported that women are more susceptible to stress than men but they have not been compared in stressful, real-world, team-centred, occupational/training environments. This study investigated effects of Army Basic Combat Training (BCT), a structured military training programme, on the mood of young adult men and women.


Using the Profile of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire, 169 soldiers (98 men and 71 women) were assessed prior to starting BCT and after each phase of training.


Significant improvements were found in five of six subscales over the course of BCT. Men and women responded positively and similarly to BCT. POMS scores attributable to an interaction of time and each factor of sex, age group, education level, ethnicity, and race were not significantly different.


When studied in the same environment and exposed to the same stressors, men and women in this study responded similarly. The positive changes in mood in both sexes during BCT appear to result from the interaction of a structured physical and cognitive training programme conducted in a team-oriented environment, and indicate that BCT enhances soldier mood similarly regardless of sex.


Lieberman, H.R., Karl, J.P., McClung, J.P., Williams, K.W. & Cable, S. (2016) Improved Mood State and Absence of Sex Differences in Response to the Stress of Army Basic Combat Training. Applied Psychology, Health and Well-being. 8(3), pp.351-363. doi: 10.1111/aphw.12075. Epub 2016 Jul 1.


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