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Men’s Appraisals of Their Military Experiences in World War II: A 40-Year Perspective


Settersten, Richard A.; Day, Jack K.; Elder, Glen H., Jr.; & Waldinger, Robert J. (2012). Men's Appraisals of Their Military Experiences in World War II: A 40-Year Perspective. Research in Human Development, 9(3), 248-271. PMCID: PMC3532891


Using data from the longitudinal Harvard Study of Adult Development (N?=?241), the authors examined how veterans of World War II appraised specific dimensions of military service directly after the war and over 40 years later, as well as the role of military service in their life course. The authors also examined how postwar appraisals of service mediated the effects of objective aspects of service, and how postwar psychological adjustment and health mediated the effects of postwar appraisals, on later-life appraisals. Men's appraisals at both time points were generally, but not highly, positive, and remarkably consistent over four decades. Postwar appraisals strongly predicted later-life appraisals and mediated the effects of objective service variables. The effects of postwar appraisals were not carried forward through psychological adjustment or midlife health; they retained power in their own right. Results are discussed in light of the sample characteristics, the historical context of World War II, and the complexities of appraisal and retrospection.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Research in Human Development


Settersten, Richard A.
Day, Jack K.
Elder, Glen H., Jr.
Waldinger, Robert J.