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September 2003 Vol. 18, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Who You Callin' Hostile?

from the September, 2003 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Sport divers are a mellow bunch. At least that is what researchers in South Africa found after studying anxiety and hostility among military and recreational divers.

Both navy and recreational divers tend to have lower anxiety than the average population. Lower anxiety is "important for divers, since divers with low anxiety scores tend to have higher performance scores than divers with high anxiety scores." Anxiety levels were lower among older divers but were unaffected by diving experience. The researchers noted, however, that a little anxiety is helpful in keeping divers focused and cautious.

When it comes to hostility, the gap widens between sport divers and military divers. Navy divers had a stronger urge to act out their hostility and a pronounced tendency to be critical of others. While the military divers are trained for hostile times, the researchers postulated that the military may attract enlistees who recognize "a venue where they can externalize their hostility without resulting in antisocial behavior." Having passed the navy's diving course -- one of the most demanding in the navy -- divers may have developed a superior selfimage that makes them more critical of others.

They found this hostile trait also among other naval personnel, but not among civilian divers, suggesting that increased hostility is due to the subjects' military affiliation rather than their diving interests.

What's it all mean? Well, you can expect your fellow divers to keep their cool, but if you're on a dive boat with an ex-Navy Seal, you may want to watch your step.

-- Ben Davison

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