“Overuse of Hero Label May Limit Veterans’ Career Options, Study Shows”

Overuse of Hero Label May Limit Veterans

“Overuse of Hero Label May Limit Veterans’ Career Options, Study Shows”

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, constantly referring to veterans as “heroes” may limit their future career opportunities (Stanley, Kay, & Shepherd, 2023). Despite the public’s overwhelmingly positive perceptions of veterans, lead author Matthew Stanley, a postdoctoral research associate at Duke University, explains that veterans face serious problems concerning unemployment and underemployment (American Psychological Association, 2023). The research conducted across 11 experiments with 6,500 participants aimed to better understand why veterans experience lower rates of employment and earnings than their non-veteran counterparts.

One of the experiments asked participants to rank common careers based on how selfish they believed the typical employee in that career to be (Stanley et al., 2023). Another experiment examined whether people would still think veterans were better suited for selfless careers if they thought that someone enlisted in the military for a reason other than serving others (Stanley et al., 2023). The study found that people who believed that veterans were more willing to make a career out of serving others at the expense of other needs or desires, such as financial security or providing for their family, were more likely to stereotype them as heroes (Stanley et al., 2023).

The study also found that the positive stereotypes about veterans and heroism could be applied to other careers people perceive to be heroic, including firefighters and nurses (Stanley et al., 2023). The participants believed that heroic individuals are expected to sacrifice more for others than those who are not.

In conclusion, Stanley suggests that by funneling veterans into specific jobs, organizations, and careers associated with selflessness, we may be unfairly limiting their agency and options (American Psychological Association, 2023). Americans should not assume that veterans want to make a career out of serving others, and instead, we should aim to reframe the hero stereotype and create more career opportunities that fit their needs and experiences.

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American Psychological Association. (2023, January 30). Stereotyping veterans as heroes may limit their future careers. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2023/01/stereotyping-veterans-heroes

Stanley, M., Kay, A., & Shepherd, S. (2023). Heroization and Ironic Funneling Effects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. https://doi.org/

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