When we think about the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), we might think about military tanks, frigates, fighter aircraft and the uniformed personnel who operate these elaborate machines. In this feature, we put the spotlight on defence psychologists, who help to enhance the readiness, well-being and performance of the fighting force.
Ying Jie shared about the work done by the Defence Psychology Department, “We support the development and implementation of Psychological Defence capabilities, conduct assessments and selection tests to enhance job-person fit, study public opinions on National Service and defence-related issues.”
Ying Jie chose to practise psychology in MINDEF, the largest employer of psychologists in Singapore, seeing that its primary work is to safeguard all that the country has achieved. She shares, “A strong defence system guards the good work done by the other Ministries – such as in the areas of education, finance and healthcare –so that these would remain stable amid security uncertainties. It also safeguards our livelihood and way of life, and ensures that citizens can focus on their ambitions and enjoyments within the safe confines of the country.
A Unique Journey
Ying Jie took on the Defence Merit Scholarship to pursue a career in defence psychology. The scholarship brought her to University College London where she pursued her degree in Psychology. She then continued with her Masters in Innovation, Strategy and Organisation at University of Cambridge.
As a scholarship recipient, Ying Jie was also awarded a fully-paid summer school stint. She attended summer school at Stanford University, where she took modules in behavioural economics. She shared about how the takeaways from the behavioural economics course enabled her to helm the Behavioural Insights (BI) portfolio within the Defence Psychology Department upon her return. “The BI perspective emphasises that people do not always act rationally, but instead are influenced by emotions and biases. As part of this portfolio, I partner other MINDEF/SAF departments and provide them BI recommendations on policy implementation and operations. This is in line with the whole-of-government emphasis on adopting BI in policy-making,” she tells us.
Tan Ying Jie
As someone who firmly believes that all scholarship recipients must have a strong commitment to defence, Ying Jie highlights that it is important to look at the career path which a scholarship offers. After all, one will be embarking on this path at their most formative period of their career and one should not turn back after committing to a decision.
“Do not take up the scholarship because you are attracted by the near-term benefits such as the allowance or prospect of studying overseas,” Ying Jie advises. “Take up the scholarship only if you are sure that you want to pursue this career path after your studies. To me, defence comes before anything else, and I wanted to be part of it.”