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Morale, refers to an emotional state used for the capacity of people to maintain belief, self confidence, motivation and purpose in a goal or activity, especially when this is in the social context of a group. It is contrasted with demoralization

The term esprit de corps, team spirit, conveys the idea well, particularly to military personnel and to members of sports teams, and is also applicable in business and in any other organizational context, particularly in times of stress or controversy.

According to Alexander H. Leighton, "morale is the capacity of a group of people to pull together persistently and consistently in pursuit of a common purpose".[1]

Morale is unrelated to morality (the ability to distinguish right and wrong).

Morale in psychological therapy

Main article: Remoralization in psychological therapy

Frank in his book "Persuasion and Healing]" argued that many patients are demoralised by their situation by the time they come to therapy. He felt it was an important task for therapists to build their morale through the development of the therapeutic relationship. He regarded this procedure as one of the nonspecific factors behind the effectiveness of a wide variety of psychological therapies.

Morale in schools

Main article: Remoralization in educational psychology

Morale in the workplace

Main article: Remoralization in organizational psychology

In the workplace, morale is more of an individual thing than something measured by departments. Events play a large part in morale, such as heavy layoffs, the cancellation of overtime, cancelling benefits programs, and the influence of unions. Other events can also influence workplace morale,such as sick building syndrome, low wages, and employees being mistreated.

Morale in military psychology

Main article: Morale in miltary psychology

In a military sense, there are two meanings to morale. The primary meaning is that of cohesion of a unit, task force, or other military group. An army with good supply lines, good air cover and a clear objective possesses, as a whole, good morale. Historically, elite military units such as the Praetorian Guard, Napoleans Imperial Guard, and many Special Forces units like the Green Beret, SAS, and Spetnaz, have high morale due to both their elite training and pride in their unit. When a unit's morale is depleted, it will usually crack and surrender, as was the case with Italian units in North Africa during World War II. It is well worth noting that generally speaking, most commanders do not look at the morale of specific individuals but rather the 'fighting spirit' of divisions, battallions, ships, etc as a whole.

A second military meaning of morale has to do with the morale of a nation's population. A nation that loses its will to fight often loses the war as well. This means that, quite often, morale efforts are tied to propaganda. Since at least the time of Carl von Clausewitz' On War, maintenance of morale has been considered one of the fundamental "Principles of War"; while Sir Basil Liddell Hart regarded morale even more fundamentally:

The aim of a nation in war is to subdue the enemy's will to resist,...

Sun Tzu, in his book The Art of War, also mentions morale of nations, as well as armies.

Despite the intangible nature of morale, material factors (such as [remuneration, food and shelter) can affect it. A soldier who has clean socks, good food, and shelter from incoming fire is obviously going to have a better sense of himself and a higher morale than one who is starving, barefoot and exposed. However, history is filled with stories of the self-will and determination of a poorly supplied army maintaining morale to the very end, such as the Army of Northern Virginia in the US Civil War.

Morale in sports psychology

See also

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  1. Alexander H. Leighton, Human Relations in a Changing World: Observations on the Uses of the Social Sciences (1949)