Literature Review

Rationale & Hypotheses








Participants in this study consisted of 406 public affairs personnel from all five military services. Our sample includes 20% Army, 45% Navy, 25% Air Force, 6 % Marine Corps, and 3% Coast Guard. The sample consists of 50% officers, 25% enlisted, and 25% Government Specialists (civilians). The mean age for our sample is 40 years old, with males making up 70% and females 30%. Ninety-one percent of the personnel surveyed reported Public Affairs as their primary career field. The average number of years in the Public Affairs field is 12, with an average of 2.6 years at the current command.

[Click here to see the online survey]

The questionnaire (see Appendix 1) consisted of 49 quantitative measures and one qualitative question designed to analyze commander's perception of public affairs from the opinion of public affairs personnel. The questionnaire began with a demographics section followed by a quantitative section and one qualitative question. The first section gathered general demographic information about participants. The next section utilized five-point Likert scales with answers ranging from "Strongly Agree" to "Strongly Disagree" to measure the commander's perception of public affairs from the perspective of the Public Affairs professional. A mean score of one (1) indicates that every participant strongly disagreed, and a mean score of five (5) indicates that every participant strongly agreed. A score of two (2) equals somewhat disagree, and a score four (4) equals somewhat agree. Three (3) indicates undecided.

Previous research by Cannon (1984) surveyed commanders about their attitudes towards public affairs, and results indicated that commanders were extremely supportive of their PA programs. The researchers of this Capstone believed that surveying public affairs officers is a necessary prerequisite before surveying commanders. In many cases, commanders will see themselves as having positive views of Public Affairs and actively supporting the Public Affairs mission, while their Public Affairs staffs view them as being uninvolved and non-supportive.

Using both theoretical perspectives and previous personal experiences with military leaders, the researchers developed a survey to assess how Public Affairs personnel perceive their commandersí perception of Public affairs. The survey was sent to all Public Affairs representatives via the Internet. As such, the sample included officers, as well as civilians and enlisted personnel.

[Click here to see the online survey]

The first part of the survey collected demographic information about the survey participants. The second section, questions 8-13, consists of six questions designed to measure the commandersí perception of the media.

Questions 14, 21, 25-36, and 45-49 address the level of commandersí overall support for Public Affairs programs and their understanding of the value of public affairs. The questions also attempt to assess the commandersí trust and confidence placed in the Public Affairs field.

Questions 15-20, 22-24, and 37-44 assess how commanders perceive their personal public affairs staff, both past and present. Also, how do the commanders perceive the important and effectiveness of Public Affairs in terms of its role in the accomplishment of the command mission.

Finally, there is one open-ended question designed to solicit any additional influences not addressed in the survey. Data from the survey was analyzed to determine commanders' perceptions and support for public affairs programs from the Public Affairs professionalís opinion.

The researchers predict positive correlation between the commanders' perception of Public Affairs and their support of Public Affairs, as well as between their attitude towards the media and their support for Public Affairs.


Meghan Mariman, LT, USN | Steve Butler, CAPT, USMC | Cameron Porter, SSGT, USA