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Effect of Personality on Virtual Communications In Warfare


Individuals and corporations worldwide are increasing utilization of computermediated-communications (CMC) systems and processes. Such endeavors are shortening lines of communications, yet simultaneously distancing understanding. Winston Churchill once opined that the British and American peoples are two great peoples separated by a common language. Some relate aspects of culture as the source of Churchills quote. Separating factors may be more engrained than previously believed or theorized. The authors examined a high-stress setting determined to be one where the trappings of culture disappear leaving only the basic emotional and cognitive survival aspects of personality; the environment of military combat. Observing the results of the studys individualenvironment relations raises the question of whether personality is a factor in virtual team efficiency. The study examined the relationship of an individuals ability to function efficiently utilizing virtual communications and processes while under extreme stress. This article is a summarization of the findings from that study.

The world is experiencing a revolution in the availability and use of information, specifically concerning the utilization of internet and computer-mediated communications (CMC) (Wagner, 2002). Researchers such as Kerr and Tindale (2004) and Wagner (2002) discussed the growing tendency within organizations to utilize CMC and virtual communications in the creation and processes of work teams, which they called virtual teams. Organizations link individuals of varied cultures and nationalities in virtual teams to perform tasks once limited to collocated groups (Gupta & Govindarajan, 2004; Kring, 2004). Kerr and Tindale (2004) reviewed studies conducted since 1992, examining the question of whether electronic groupswhere inter-member communication is managed electronically rather than in face-to-face interactionmight have certain performance advantages (p. 626). Kerr and Tindales research, supported by the work by Wagner (2002), concluded that, while a viable and growing process with many positive tendencies, the structure of virtual groups is so complex as to render the reviewed studies overly simplistic. Most research, according to the researchers, was limited to examining only the relationships of group size, task type, available choices, stress conditions, or decision scheme rather than the deeper cognitive structures of intelligence, personality, social structure, and other non-face-to-face issues (Aldridge, 2001; Gibson et al., 2003;

Goh, 2004; Kerr & Tindale, 2004; Wagner, 2002). Maxwell (2006) cited numerous psychological studies linking cognition and interpersonal aspects to adaptive behavior, or personality. Maxwell (2006) further stated that a primary faculty of emotion, or personality, is to reflect and motivate the modification of individual-environment relations in an advantageous manner. The linkage of personality to individual-environment relations raises the question of whether personality is a factor in virtual team efficiency. This study examined the potential of such a linkage, exacerbated by the introduction of a high-stress environment, considered and examined by J. Burgoon and others as a critical aspect of autonomic cognitive response (Burgoon, Blair, & Moyer, 2003, J. K. Burgoon et al., 2005; J. K. Burgoon, Blair, & Moyer, 2003; Buller & J.K. Burgoon, 1996). In situations of high stress, the communications receiver expects a particular message based upon the cues, verbal and nonverbal, presented by the sender. Thus, when the cues are not present, the receiver misses or ignores the actual message as the brain is engaged in replacing this missing information to complete the picture. Bermudez et al. (2004), Goh (2004), Halone and Pecchioni (2001), Hawkins (2002), and Higgins (2003) established that a situation of missing cues is particularly prevalent in virtual teams due to the use of electronic communications media. CMC expansion throughout government, industry, and academia is a result of the fact that virtual teams are viable solutions to the issues of distance, cost, and globalization of resources (Jang, 2003; Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1998; Scholtz, 2003). Government utilizes virtual/CMC systems in intelligence, military, and operational roles. Industry is increasing the use of virtual meeting technology as travel costs continue to increase. Academia utilizes virtual classrooms to expand their breadth of student coverage. In each of these situations, information passes in pictorial and/or text format without the benefit of non-verbal support inputs. Background and Supporting Theories Three major theories were considered. They are the expectations violations model and theory (Burgoon, et al, 1998), collaborative decision making theory (Bridgland & Watro, 1987; Buchanan & Kock, 2000; Higgins, 2003; Pidd et al., 2003; Ryan, 2002; Thomas, 2003; Warner & Wroblewski, 2004), and fault-tolerant decision making theory

(Brown, 2004). Each theory held, in different ways, that in a CMC environment, the receivers of electronic communications are free to interpret the communications while not providing non-verbal feedback to the sender. Such a situation potentially negates participation of the sender to the idioms of individual personality. Thus, unification of information and processes effects can occur resulting in receiver decision anomalies. The theories do not examine the source of these anomalies, concluding the need for additional study. Decision support systems include options for making human collective choices; decision support systems require optimal rules such as laws, ethical standards, and others that make human interaction mandatory. The interaction establishes the basis for cognitive process misunderstandings (Brown, 2004). A misunderstanding within the cognitive process creates additional areas of uncertainty in the CMC environment, leaving the individual more reliant upon individual expectations and personal preferences of action. People are social animals reared and developed within the confines of society (Darwin, 1965; Dickson et al., 2004; Kincaid, 1987). People establish themselves as an element of society and conform to social and normative strictures. The necessary communications of a societal organization result from a lifetime of learning acceptable and unacceptable standards of interaction. As cited by Allot (2001), researchers such as Levins (1570), Butler (1634), Flint (1740), and De Saussure (1916) studied the innate character of language or communications as the basis for the creation of society. In a study published in 2002 at the 130th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association, Campo et al. (2002) reported the link between social norms and expectancy violation. Their work demonstrated that socially developed expectations create inaccurate perceptions when required information is not present. The violations cause misconceptions of correct attitude or behavior, leading to incorrect attitude changes in the participants. The information from Campo et al.s 2002 study pointed to the powerful effects social norms have on behavior. Behavioral change effects link to and derive from the societal need of humans for acceptance and social membership.

The structure of the human mind, in particular mental processes for all human beings, is indicative of the extent to which external, nonverbal communications stimulate mental activity and decision making (Zaltman, 2005). Zaltman noted that language is limited and should not be confused with the process of thinking or thought. People think not simply in words, but in pictures, feelings, and other factors(Mahoney, 2003; Yoogalingam, 2003). The research cited above demonstrated a significant relationship between expectation and the foundations of communications structure in all forms. The research led to the conclusion that the basis for expectation develop within each human being from birth as the means to develop the ability to communicate, interact, and survive within society (Lee, 1999). The research also demonstrated an increasing reliance upon expectation norms as stress and external uncertainty increase (Henderson, 1999; Hoch, Kunreuther, & Gunther, Eds., 2001; Lussier, 2002). It is, therefore, logical to infer that violation of these expectations will have an effect on the mental activities of humans in an uncertain environment. Additionally, it is logical to infer that, as cognitive processes rely heavily on the aspects identified by Mahoney (2003) and Yoogalingam (2003) as well as the basics of culture and language, that the individuals personality is the foci of cognitive behavior and determination. Method Due to the qualitative nature of the information gathered and the position on psychological research methodologies espoused by Jung (1968), a mixed method process was utilized to study the relationship of personality to CMC efficacy. Jung stated that the construct of individual personalities defies detailed analysis in a quantitative structure due to the variation in environments within which one finds the subject and that exhibited personality adjusts to fit the environment (Laszlo, 1990). However, Jung did not have the specific tools available today for the assessment and quantification of behavioral personalities. This study utilized a bidirectional approach similar to that utilized by Wagner (2002). The subject pool derived from a set of U.S. Army personnel with appropriate virtual communications experience. The experience was set within a combat

environment, being the highest stress environment considered available and supportable as such. A questionnaire, the Military CMC Effectiveness Survey (M-CMCE), established what information, data, and knowledge existed within the unique environment of the individuals involved in high-stress combat situations. Participants were interviewed for data on experiences, concerns, problems with systems where understanding were involved, and overall impressions of communications accuracy using on-line systems. The personality element was determined utilizing the Insights-Discovery Personality Determination Questionnaire resulting in a quantifiable personality matrix. The Insights-Discovery process relates the matrix to an internationally validated psychological profile (Insights Learning and Discovery, 2006). The profile derives from the work of Jung in The archetypes and collective unconscious (Collected Works of C.J. Jung, Vol. 9, Part 1) (Jung, Adler, & Hull, 1968) and has been validated through repetitive and detailed study by Westminster University, London, England (Lothian, 2002). Figures 1 and 2 are depictions of the output of the methodology. Figure 1: Insights-Discovery learning dynamics structure matrix. Note. From Insights Learning and Discovery, Ltd. (2006). The Insights-Discovery System. Retrieved January 1, 2006, from TheDiscoverySystem/default.shtm. Reprinted with permission.

Figure 2: Insights-Discovery personality matrix compilation wheel. Note. From Insights Learning and Discovery, Ltd. (2006). The Insights-Discovery System. Retrieved January 1, 2006, from TheDiscoverySystem/default.shtm. Reprinted with permission.

The specific analysis methodology is depicted in Figure 3 below.

Study Data Development and Analysis Process
Soldiers with CMC/Combat experience are surveyed via internet Personality Data Independent Variable Education/Demographic Data Independent Variable Experiential Information with CMC Dependent Variable Data obtained using single survey combining Insight-Discovery and Military-Computer Mediated Communications (M-CMC) surveys into one interface M-CMC gathers demographic and experiential data as to the subject s CMC activities/experiences in combat Personality/Likert data stored in Mind-Stretch, Inc. (Insight-Discovery Company) servers and fed to the IDTA Tool for base analysis and display as Insights Wheel Textual information fed to Analysis Software for Word-based Records (AnSWR) and codified based on commonalities such as recurring themes, etc. Codified information compared to personality and demographic ele ments

Data Development
Personality-Likert Information

Insight-Discovery Team Analysis Tool

Mind-Stretch Database
Personality Data Likert Data Text Data AnSWR Analysis Tool

Soldier Subject

Insight-Discovery Personality Survey

M-CMC Survey


Structured Com mon Attributes

Combat CMC Experience Personality Type Data

Figure 3: Study Methodology RESULTS The study data provided information indicating that there were specific differences associated with the respondents perceptions of their ability to work within a virtual environment. The survey investigated specific domains ranging from normal faceto-face and purely virtual communications methodologies. The resulting information included perceptions of the clarity of the information being passed; perception of the

message being communicated vice the intended message; and perception of error in understanding leading to abandonment of the CMC system process. The data depicted a nearly bi-modal structure between normal human communications and the virtual (CMC) domains. The issue then became one of whether there existed any specific similarities between the CMC-successful and CMC-unsuccessful groups. Personality Results The results from the Insights-Discovery survey consisted of four identifying colors or labelsred, green, yellow, and bluewhich correlate to specific Jungian personality typology functions or attributes described in Table 1. The functions or attributes shown relate to personality characteristics, how individual participants display the typology characteristics during personal interactions. Table 1 Insight-Discovery Color Dynamics

A combination of Table 1 and Figure 4 indicates participants expressing a perception of full CMC efficacy have primary personality functionality of thinking and introverted, or what Insights-Discovery labels the Blue factor. Blue emerged as 31% of the respondent structure. Blue individuals have primary personality traits of being highly analytical and precise; however, others see Blue individuals as indecisive and prone to focus on minutiae.

Focused Respondents Personality Structure

26% 31% Blue Green Yellow Red

20% 23%

Figure 4. Focused respondents personality structure summary.

Twenty-three percent of the respondents had thinking and extroverted, or Red, tendencies. Individuals with a Red tendency have as their personality traits a value of taking action, making decisions, and mental challenges. However, Red individuals generally do not tolerate indecision in others or themselves (Jung et al., 1968). Red individuals also have a high degree of confidence in their own abilities, but communicate to others a degree of lack of trust that may not truly be a part of their personality construct. Individuals having a score of Blue are analytical, precise, cautious, deliberate, and others perceive this as indecisive (Jung et al.). Figure 4 depicts the results of the color dynamics in a related scoring value for comparative analysis. Of specific interest are the positions of the various result points in Figure 5. The Insights Wheel segregates into the various typology color zones and further subdivided into degrees of strength in three concentric circles. The closer the respondent scores are toward the center of the graph, the lower the strength of the typology. Additionally, the closer the respondent scores are toward one of the dividers, the greater is the focus of the respondent to that typology subcategory. For example, the respondent scoring 35 on the wheel is a primary Blue with strong observer tendencies, yet edges toward a reformer attitude. The participant with a score of 36 is a strong Blue reformer. Each has specific traits not part of the current study.

Figure 5: The Insights Wheel asterisk group. Note. Figure created expressly for the current study and reprinted with the permission of Insights Learning and Discovery, Ltd. via MindStretch, Inc. Copyright 2008 by MindStretch, Inc.

Discussions with Insights-Discovery analysts revealed that what appear to be outliers on this graph are, in fact, not (personal discussions with Amerman, 2008). The coordinator/supporter structures reflect similar aspects to the other structures with the primary differentiation being the coordinator/ supporter group represents introversion rather than extraversion, which reflects a greater selection to attention on the preference of sensing rather than thinking. Jung discussed that these preferences are focused typologies or human differences (Jung et al., 1968). The Jungian typologies, when combined, describe specific differences among people (Amerman, 2008). The introversion typology focuses energy and attention inward (Jung et al., 1968). The inner world is the real world, which determines the persons behavior. The outer world is less real, exerting less influence on behavior (Jung et al.). The individual in the supporter, or Green, position focuses on introverted feeling and shows more attention to others. A Green person has a need to observe others level of honesty, available in face-to-face communications and not CMC. Confirmation of this evaluation comes from the respondents textual survey responses. Participants scoring in the Green typology revealed the need to observe which responses exist in the nonverbal communication of others and a concern for ensuring the others complete understanding of the message sent by the respondents. However, the respondents also discussed a

comfort with CMC systems not mentioned by participants scoring virtual systems lower. The respondents comments may come from a high degree of experience and training in the CMC systems not indicated in the limited Likert range of the M-CMCE survey. Figure 6 contains the personality rankings for the respondents who registered their perception of CMC efficacy as lower than face-to-face communications. Although the rankings appear similar, the scorings show a typology strength difference. Figure 7 diagrams a reversal of strength in both the Blue (observer/reformer) scales as well as the Red (reformer/director) scales in side-by-side depictions. The comparison demonstrates the relationship between the two sets and the change in typology strengths. The lines between the two charts are not depicting a change in scorings that are from the same individuals, but are rather of different individuals from the two separated groups.

Figure 6. The Insights Wheel nonasterisk group. Note. Figure created expressly for the current study and reprinted with the permission of Insights Learning and Discovery, Ltd. via MindStretch, Inc. Copyright 2008 by MindStretch, Inc.


Figure 7. The Insights Wheel nonasterisk group. Note. Figure created expressly for the current study and reprinted with the permission of Insights Learning and Discovery, Ltd. via MindStretch, Inc. Copyright 2008 by MindStretch, Inc.

The rankings in Figure 7 reflect the respondent personality types where each respondent is in a leadership or leadership staff position. Claxton (2004) focused on participants in leadership or leadership staff positions within the U.S. DOD. Thus, the relationship of the Blue and Red rankings indicate similar findings to the findings discussed by Claxton (2004) in his dissertation involving personality types and leadership roles in the U.S. Department of Defense. The importance of the developed data of the current study, and an issue not considered by Claxton (2004), is the strength of the rankings. There are four zones or circles within the Insights Wheel. The further toward the outer circle, the more embedded in the category the respondent lies, and the less the secondary personality preference influences behavior. Conversely, the nearer the center, the stronger the relationship between the types the personality becomes (Amerman, 2008). Thus, while the current study both supports and is supported by Claxtons work, the aspect of the general nature of personality types of individuals in leadership positions becomes non sequitur as it is a constant. CONCLUSIONS The study conclusion is that personality typology may influence decision-making efficacy of individuals utilizing CMC systems in combat environments. From the conclusion, the identification of three specific elements as likely influencing factors was possible: strength of individual personality typology, trust, and cognitive expectation.

12 Strength of Individual Personality Typology When the use of fully capable CMC systems, identified as CMC with full graphics, was under consideration, one set of the respondents recorded increased perceptions of efficacy while the other set did not. The divergence in perception did not derive from differences in the respondents education, virtual system experience, knowledge of information technology systems, or level of authority while in combat environments. Rather, the respondents data revealed nearly identical demographics. The most likely remaining element of influence, as derived from the data, is individual typology. More accurately, the data indicate the possibility that the strength of the personality typology may be the primary influence. The M-CMCE survey participant textual responses, which included verbiage indicative of experiences directly tied to the respondents perception scores, such as a need for visual cues for those scoring CMC system efficacy low and the disassociation of these cue requirements for those scoring CMC system efficacy high, provided further support for this conclusion. Therefore, given the similar results of the Claxton (2004) study and the current study, the conclusion may be drawn that a relationship exists between personality typology strength and decision-making. Moreover, as the Claxton (2004) study methodology and personality tool base and the current studys methodology and tool base are sufficiently similar for close comparison, the similarities of the study results further support the concept that specific leadership personality relationships are a possible constant. The theory possibility is that a relationship exists between personality strength and communications clarity within a CMC structure in a combat environment. Given the researched relationship between both personality and communications clarity and decision-making, there exists a potential relationship between personality and decision making efficacy when utilizing CMC systems within a combat environment. Trust Although the current studys methodology was limited to typologies, some of the developed data addressed the issue of trust. The trust issue developed from the M-CMCE survey data focuses on two primary domains: trust of the information arriving through the CMC systems and the participants trust of their own ability to communicate effectively via CMC systems. The M-CMCE survey was constructed to develop data on decision-making efficacy, not individual trust issues such as addressed in the Wagner (2002) and Walters (2004) studies. However,

13 comparisons with the Wagner and Walters studies resulted in information similar to the two trust domains identified in the current studys data. Wagner (2002) identified correlations in the importance or risk associated with a specific communication message and the communications technology utilized. The nature of the issue open for discussion by the virtual team members, according to Wagner, is a key to the technology the teams chose to use. Walters (2004) concluded that the less confidence or trust in the team, the sensitive or personal nature of the message, or its possible negative reception, the more likely an individual is to select a lower technology such as e-mail. If the message is of high importance or requires verification of understanding, is volatile, or is of high criticality, the team member is more likely to select a face-to-face meeting or visual technology. When trust relationships are high, advanced technology receives primary selection (Walters). The developed data and conclusions contained in the Walters (2004) study are similar to the data developed in the current study. Specifically, M-CMCE survey text and Likert-like score data indicated an enhanced trust in the CMC systems by participants scoring CMC system use high. Simultaneously, the M-CMCE survey participants scoring CMC system perceived efficacy low likewise expressed low trust in both the systems and team members. Thus, a comparison with the Walters study also supported acceptance of the current studys primary hypothesis. Cognitive Expectation A key factor in the current studys conclusion had a basis in the individuals nature to rely upon experiences and cultural dynamics to establish expectations of which verbal and nonverbal inputs are cognitively necessary to formulate decisions. The expectations, when violated through their absence, result in the brain substituting potentially inappropriate memories for missing data points. A similar occurrence exists in the psychology rubric in which a participant reads a paragraph from which all vowels are removed. Because the cognitive expectation has the vowels present, the brain inserts the absent vowels, enabling the reader to understand the paragraph. The M-CMCE survey data supported the premise of the individuals need to revert to familiar mental processes due to the emotional comfort the processes provide. The support derives from the participant statements expressing the desire for face-to-face communications in sensitive situations and the participants simultaneous low scoring of CMC system perceived

14 efficacy. Reversion to familiar mental processes is the basis for the expectation violation theory (Burgoon & Hale, 1988). Comparison with the Wagner (2002), Claxton (2004), and Walters (2004) studies again supported the conclusion that expectation violation may constitute a primary factor in the observed participants perception differences. As stated in the Trust section, Wagner (2002) found that participants perception of cognitive efficacy on the part of team members was a key to the participants selection of virtual team involvement. Lewis and Weigert (1975), as quoted in Wagner (2002, p. 47), noted We cognitively choose whom we will trust in what respects and under what circumstances, and we base the choice on what we take to be good reasons constituting evidence of trustworthiness (p. 969). A cognitive choice creates an expectation as the choice derives from what we take to be good reasons (Lewis & Weigert, as cited in Wagner, p. 47). The reasons derive from experience, a key element in Burgoons theory of expectation violation (Burgoon & Hale, 1998). Violation of what the individual considers a good reason results in stress and cognitive dissonance. The conclusion of the current study, based on available survey data and the exegetic information, is that personality typology may directly influence perceived CMC and decision making efficacy, particularly in the highly stressful environment of combat conditions. Additionally, there is sufficient information present to hypothesize a direct relationship in typology strength and degree of individual reliance upon previous experiences and decisionmaking efficacy based upon expectation violation in virtual CMC environments.
George J. Graham is a faculty member for the University of Phoenixs School of Advanced Studies. He is a PhD in political science/public policy from Northern Arizona University. He holds a bachelors degree from the University of Southern California and a masters degree from California State University Long Beach. He may be reached at . Harry I. Nimon is a Sr. Analyst for The Boeing Corporation, Defense Systems Division. He is a PhD from the University of Phoenix, in Phoenix, Arizona. He holds a bachelors degree in Education from Akron University, Akron, Ohio and masters degrees from Central Michigan University (MBA), Mt. Pleasant, MI and the US Army Command and General Staff College (MS in Operations Management Science). He may be reached at .


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