Combat Flow: Military, Political, and Ethical Dimensions of Subjective Well-Being in War

Yuval Noah Harari*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

The theory of flow argues that subjective well-being results from absorption in an activity that strikes a good balance between challenges and skills. This absorption has been termed flow. Such absorption is often reported in combat situations, in which it contributes both to the subjective well-being and to the efficiency of soldiers. This article suggests that combat flow may have been central to military training and military performance throughout history. The study of combat flow could therefore shed new light on military history and form the basis for the development of new training techniques. The article simultaneously probes the ethical and political implications of manipulating the subjective well-being of soldiers in such a way. It cautions scholars of flow and subjective well-being that they should be aware of the ethical and political implications of their studies and warns against the dangerous political results of equating subjective well-being with happiness. The article further calls for greater cooperation between psychologists and historians in the study of well-being.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)253-264
Number of pages12
JournalReview of General Psychology
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2008

Keywords

  • combat
  • flow
  • military
  • military history
  • subjective well-being

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