Undergraduate students (N =42) completed the Armed Forces Perception Survey. Twenty of the 42 students (48%) were males and 22 were females (52 %). Of the males, 18 (43 %) were between 18 and 24 years old while two students (5 %) were 25 to 30 years old. Of the female students, 19 (45 %) were between the ages 18 and 24, and three (7 %) were between 25 and 30 years old.
Of the 42 respondents, one reported as having a parent or primary caregiver currently service in a branch of the U.S. military. Fourteen students (33 %) reported that one of their parents or their primary caregiver had served in the military at one point during the student's lifetime. Twenty-five students (60 %) stated they have friends or family members currently serving in the military. Two respondents indicated they were interested in joining a branch of the U.S. military.
The students reported on the survey that their overall impression of the military is positive (M = 2.0476, SD = .6608). Those surveyed also reported that Hollywood's portrayal of the people and life in the military as being occasionally to rarely realistic (M = 2.6905, SD = .5174). During the survey, students were asked rate how courageous, professional, patriotic, dedicated, extreme, refined, reserved, stable, and independent they viewed military people. Of the eight characteristic traits, all had a significant deviation of more than 1. Dedication had the lowest standard deviation (M = 1.71, SD = 1.02) and independence had the highest standard deviation (M = 4.63, SD = 1.923).
Simple correlation tests found a significant correlation between how real Hollywood's portrayals of the military are and the professionalism of military men and women (r = .33, p <.05). The more realistic the portrayal of the military, the more students rated the military men and women as being more professional.
A significant correlation was found between enjoyment of movies with a military theme and the professionalism of military people (r = .39, p <.05), the patriotism of military men and women (r=".34," p < .05), and the dedication of military men and women (r=".45," p < .01). Students who reported enjoying movies with a military theme reported military people as being highly professional, patriotic, and dedicated.
Simple correlation tests also found an inverse correlation between how corrupt the students think the military is based on what they see in the movies and how courageous, professional and patriotic they think military people are. It was found that the less people who thought of the military as being corrupt, the more courageous (r = -.32, p <.05), professional (r="-.37," p < .05), and patriotic (r="-41," p < .01) they viewed military people.
Of the 42 students surveyed, eight reported that their impression of the Armed Forces had changed significantly in the past 5 years. Of these, three reported that their reason for changing their opinion was due to a friend or family members' experience with the military. One student changed his or her opinion as a result of a real-world incident reported by the news media and one as a result of self-education. Two students had their impressions changed as a result of a television or movie portrayal of the U.S. Armed Forces. One student reported they changed their impression as a result of one or more factors. None reported their impression as having changed as a result of an encounter with a military recruiter.
The most seen movie reported by the students was Top Gun. Forty-one students (98%) reported they had seen the movie. Rounding out the top three movies was Saving Private Ryan and A Few Good Men. Thirty-five students (83%) saw Saving Private Ryan and 34 students (81%) saw A Few Good Men. The movies An Officer and a Gentlemen and Platoon each had 25 students (60%). The least-viewed movies were Hanoi Hilton and Sands of Iwo Jima with one student each.