First name: Laura
Keywords: Personality, Police, Jackson Personality Inventory-Revised, JPI-R, Subject Information Sheet, Social Influence.
Instrument: Jackson Personality Inventory- Revised (JPI-R), Subject Information Sheet.
Attention: This webpage contains my thesis, as well as some helpful links, and advice for working on research in this area. I hope that it will be useful to you, and that you will enjoy viewing it.
is divided into the following sections:
||Encouragement for Students|
Running Head: Police Personality : Social Influence
Police Personality: An Example of the Role of Social Influence
in Shaping Personality Characteristics of Police Officers.
Laura M. Berry
Saint Anselm College
thesis in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor
of Arts in Psychology
November 24, 1998
The present study could not have come to fruitation without the help
of a number of people. Therefore, thanks is due to the
following people. To Professor Scott Krauchunas, for offering insight and encouragement in the early stages of this project. To
Professor Paul Finn, for providing professional guidance, and making a difficult task seem possible. To Professor Kathleen
Flannery, who assisted with the statistical analysis of the data. To the entire Psychology Department for their encouragement
and assistance throughout the study. To department secretary Barbara Bartlett for her invaluable assistance in locating and
obtaining the necessary testing materials. To my parents, for financing the education that has made this study possible.
ToTrooper James M. Jaworek for offering an ‘insiders’ perspective that was instrumental in interpreting the obtained data in a
socially valid way: thank you for your unflagging encouragement and enthusiasm. You have given me a new perspective on the
field of law enforcement. To the Chiefs of Police who allowed materials for this study to be distributed to their officers: thank
you for your interest and cooperation. To the officers who participated in the study: thank you for taking time out of your busy
schedules to participate- you are truly a credit to your profession. To the students who participated in the study: thank you for
your attentiveness and cooperation during the study. To the staff of the Weiler Computer Center and the ACC: thank you for
your assistance in overcoming the numerous technical glitches that occurred during the conducting of this study. To Kathleen
Jaworek: thank you for your assistance in organizing the data for analysis.
Most of all, deepest personal thanks is due to my husband Brian, who
offered support and encouragement throughout this
study. Without you by my side, this project would not have been possible. You have been my strength. Thank you for always
being there whenever I need you.
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What is Police Personality?
Demographics of Police Officers
Social Influence View
What is Personality?
Support for existence of Police Personality
Effects of: Stress
Power in Dyads
Impact of variations
Importance of the study
Studies supporting existence of Police Personality
Encouragement for students
The relationship between the number of years of law enforcement experience
an individual possesses and the degree to which
characteristics associated with the construct of police personality was investigated. Personality characteristics were identified
using the Jackson Personality Inventory-Revised (JPI-R). Correlations were conducted to determine the degree of
intercorrelation between JPI-R scales for the police officer sample, and compared to intercorrelation data for the JPI-R
normative sample. Linear regression analysis was conducted to determine the degree to which highly correlated scores on
JPI-R scales were predictive of one another. Mann-Whitney non-parametric analysis was conducted to detect similarities and
differences between the JPI-R scores of police officers and those of college students and a normative sample. Results are
discussed in terms of cross-sectional similarities and differences. Limitations of the present study and implications for future
research are also addressed.
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Running Head: Police Personality: An example of the Role of Social Influence
in Shaping Personality Characteristics of Police
What is "Police Personality"?
The "police personality" is generally defined as a typical pattern of
personality characteristics found in individuals who work as
police officers. This concept developed from research findings indicating that police officers have a distinct and readily
recognizable pattern of personality characteristics, and that these characteristics make them psychologically different from the
general population. (Leftkowitz 1975, Adlam 1982,Murrell 1978). This pattern of behaviors associated with individuals
employed as law enforcement officers has thereby come to be collectively known as the "police personality".
Characteristics associated with the police personality generally fall
into two categories. (McKew 1981, Leftkowitz 1975,
Bartol 1991) One category contains the internal characteristics, which involved behaviors and responses that are present even
when the individual is not interacting with others. The other contains the interactional characteristics, which are exhibited only
when the individual is in contact with others.
Among the internal characteristics are conservatism, or the adherence
to mainstream values; physical courage, the willingness to
take necessary risks; and loyalty, devotion to his or her group as a whole as well as to individual members. (Leftkowitz 1975,
McKew 1981) Police officers are also generally found to be more suspicious than non-law enforcement individuals, thereby
being more likely to look for the ‘hidden’ characteristics of people or situations. Officers also tend to exhibit two other closely
related traits: secretiveness, characterized by a desire to isolate oneself from people who one does not know well, and
cynicism, categorized by expecting and preparing for the worst outcome in a given situation.
Research (Nowicki 1966) also notes that police officers tend to have
an exceptional ability to control emotional impulses as
compared to members of the general population. These characteristics represent elements of personality that many law
enforcement officers share in common, but do not provide the full picture of what characterizes the behavior and personality
characteristics of a police officer. Therefore, it is also necessary to note the interactional characteristics of the police personality.
The interactional traits associated with the police personality include
authoritarianism, which is characterized by a need to take
the role of leader and be in charge in interactions with others.(MeKew 1981, Leftkowitz 1975, Bartol 1991) Another trait
closely related to it is self-assertiveness, which is characterized by taking the initiative in interactions with others. Police officers
are also found to have a narrow breadth of interest, preferring to interact with those who are similar to themselves,and to
engage in a narrow set of activities. (McKew 1991) In addition, police officers tend to be opposed to taking a ‘subjective,
tender-hearted approach to life’ (McKew 1991) and prefer action to contemplation. (Hogan 1971 680) This approach is
known as anti-intraception. These characteristics, in combination with the internal characteristics provide a vivid picture of the
Demographic Characteristics of Police Officers
In addition to those previously mentioned, it is also important to recognize
the demographic characteristics of police officers.
These include the tendency of police officers to be of above normal intelligence, have better than average emotional stability,
enjoy working with people in a service role, and have a strong desire to contribute to the betterment of society. (Leftkowitz
1975 7) As a group, police officers are also considered to be masculine in style and manner of behavior, free from pretense,
get along well in the world and prefer action to contemplation. (Hogan 1971 680
Where does "Police Personality" come from? : Competing Perspectives
The identification of the characteristics of the police personality
is the first logical step towards understanding how the police
personality comes to exist. Next, the question " How does the police personality come to exist?" must be addressed. Two
distinct explanations have been offered by the social science community to explain the development of the police personality:
the predispositional view and the social influence view.
The Predispositional Perspective. The predispositional view puts forth
the idea that those who enter law enforcement possess
distinct personality characteristics which cause them to seek law enforcement as a career. This view also suggests that these
personality characteristics are not only responsible for drawing an individual to a law enforcement career, but also for
maintaining the same pattern of behavior during the individual’s career. (Bennett 1975 439)
Those who support this view believe that law enforcement officers possess
clearly identifiable police personality traits even
before beginning such a career, and that these traits guide behavior for the length of the career.(Adlam 1982) Accordingly, the
role of social influence through training and other interactions are minimized by this view, and an emphasis is placed on the role
of individual personality characteristics in shaping the police personality.
The Social Influence Perspective
In contrast, to the predispositional view, the social influence view
suggests that those who intend to become police officers are
not significantly different from the general population in terms of personality traits. It asserts that any differences that may be
observed between police officers and other individuals are the result of on the job socialization and role expectation.
Consequently, it is believed by those advocating the social influence
view, that officers perceive social pressure to behave in
ways that they consider to be appropriate to their position as law enforcement officers. In response to this pressure, police
officers then develop the characteristics associated with the police personality over the course of time, to meet the requirements
of the job. Supporters of this position assert that one must learn to be a police officer, and that all the necessary personality
traits and skills will be developed over time. Emphasis is placed on the role of inborn personality characteristics is minimized.
What is "Personality"?
In order to fully understand the concept of "police personality", it
is first necessary to understand what is meant by "personality"
itself. According to theorists in the field of personality psychology, personality can be defined in a number of ways. Some of the
most widely accepted definitions of personality include the following. Personality is "the dynamic organization within the
individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his characteristic behavior and thought" according to Allport. (1961).
Personality is "the distinctive pattern of behavior (including thoughts and emotions) that characterize each individual’s adaptation
to the situations of his or her life" according to Mischel (1986).
Theorist Lawrence A. Pervin defines personality as "Those characteristics
of the person or of people generally that account for
consistent patterns of behavior". (1989). According to Cattell, personality it ""hat which permits a prediction of what a person
will do in a given situation." (1950).
Taken collectively, personality as defined by theorists in the field
refers to both internal characteristics of an individual, as well
as external behavioral patterns which the individual exhibits. In addition, personality is also a means by which the behavior of
individuals can be predicted. Most importantly, there is considerable agreement that personality is characterized by both
uniqueness in characteristics, and consistency in behavior. Therefore, personality is a term used to refer to the personal
characteristics which an individual possesses that make him or her unique and allow him or her to engage in relatively distinctive,
predictable patterns of behavior. Personality is both what makes an individual who he or she is, and what makes him or her
behave the way that he or she does.
Support for the Existence of "Police Personality"
An extensive body of literature examining the components that make up
the police personality has been compiled over the past
three decades (Adlam 1982,Bell 1982,Bennett & Greenstein 1975,Gerber 1996,Hogan 1971,Kaufman 1992,Leftkowitz
1975, Manuel 1993,McKew 1981, Murrell, Lester & Arcuri 1978, Wexler 1985) In this time, researchers have come to a
general consensus and assert that a police personality does in fact exist and is characterized by distinct personality traits.
However, the literature has neglected to address itself to the task of discovering how the police personality is formed.
Difficulties in Assessing "Police Personality"
Police personality is a difficult area to investigate for a number of
reasons. One such reason is that the very nature of the
population of interest makes it difficult to delve into. Police officers are generally considered to be more suspicious and cynical
than members of the general population (Leftkowitz 1975, McKew 1981), thereby making many officers unlikely to volunteer
for participation in a study of their personality characteristics.
Another reason for difficulty in examining the characteristics and development
of police personality is that a number of factors
may effect the development and expression of police personality characteristics. These characteristics may also interact with
one another, causing further complication of any investigation that is undertaken. Factors which might affect the police
personality characteristics include: stress, gender differences, distribution of power in dyads, & ethnic backgrounds. Therefore,
any study of police personality requires examination of such potential mitigating factors.
The Potential Impact of Stress on the Expression of Police Personality
There are three specific categories of stress: stressors, perceived
stress, and ascribed stress, each of which possesses its own
distinct characteristics.(Brown 1990 306) Stressors are environmental circumstances directly or indirectly affecting an
individual. For example, the loss of a job needed to support one’s family would have the universal effect of causing an individual
to experience feelings of stress.(Brown 1990 306) Perceived stress refers to the degree to which individuals interpret
experiences as stressful for one individual, but hardly be worth noticing to another individual. (Brown 1990 307) Ascribed
stress is the assessment by an objecting investigator as to the stressfulness of some environmental, social, or personal
circumstance until another individual characterizes them as such. The individual then attributes his or her feelings to stress in
fulfillment of the expectations of others. (Brown 1990 307)
These three categories of stress provide three ways in which an individual
may interpret the stressfulness of a situation- in terms
of its direct or indirect effects, his or her perception of the event as taxing or threatening, or objectively categorized as such by
and outside observer. In reference to stress, the most important factor in determining an individual’s ability to cope with a
situation is whether or not he or she interprets the event as stressful. Therefore, the way in which an individual interprets events
will determine the appropriate response to these events. If an event is not interpreted as stressful, the individual will continue to
behave in his or her normal fashion.
If an event is interpreted as stressful and the individual feels unable
to handle it, normal behavior may be disrupted. How a
person responds will determine the personality features that will be most appropriate to guide and facilitate the appropriate
course of action. Therefore, even where a distinct set of personality traits is apparent, perception of the stressfulness of events
may effect the degree to which these traits are manifested.
Power Distribution in Police Dyads
Variations in the way officers express police personality characteristics
may also be seen in the distribution of power in dyadic
interactions. In police dyads, power is distributed among the two partners, with the most high status partner (determined either
on the basis of gender, with the male officer holding the high status position, or seniority) exhibiting instrumental traits,
characterized by self- assertion and initiation of actions. In response, the lower status partner exhibits more expressive traits
such as accommodation and support of the other member. (Gerber 1996 350) Such distribution of power would then effect the
type of personality traits that individuals would manifest. For instance, although the lower status partner might be more naturally
assertive, dyadic interaction patterns dictate that he or she should exhibit more expressive traits. Therefore, in compliance with
the role expectations, he or she may downplay his or her natural assertiveness and behave in a more expressive manner. In this
way, the expression of personality characteristics , even if they are long standing, may be situationally dependent .
Ethnicity and Police Personality
The ethnic origin of the individual officer, both in and of itself and
in the context of his or her working environment may also be
an important influence on the expression of police personality traits. For example, members of minority groups might feel a need
to prove themselves to be especially fit for the job in order to counteract existing stereotypes, thereby exhibiting stronger
expressions of "police personality" characteristics. Therefore, although the characteristics themselves are not confounding
factors, influences such as ethnic background that may cause extreme variation in the expression of police personality may act
as a confound.
Ethnic background may be a particularly salient factor if the minority
individual is serving as a police officer in a community
whose ethnic makeup is greatly dissimilar to his or her own background. This might cause the individual to feel out of place,
thereby resulting in behavior that is either retreating, in order to avoid conflict, or excessively bold to prove him or her self to be
Gender and Police Personality
Another important factor that may affect the expression the police personality
is gender. Research indicates that although for the
most part, men and women in policing experience many of the same stressors, some important gender differences have been
found to exist. For example, female officers typically report more experiences of stress when exposed to tragedy (such as fatal
motor vehicle accidents, witnessing the death of a fellow officer, etc.), as a result of feeling responsible for the safety of others,
including their colleagues, as well as a result of working in a male dominated occupation . (Bartol 1992 246) Male officers
reported their relationships with colleagues, the size of the department and the perceived lack of proper training as the main
sources of work related stress. The available literature did not examine whether or not male officers felt stress reactions in
situations in a similar manner to female officers. More research in therefore needed in this area. However, it must be recognized
that such concerns, although they are not reported, may not be experienced by male officers as well. Failure to report such
concerns, even if experienced, might be the result of officers behaving in a manner that they believe is appropriate to their
Social Distress Theory and Gender: Their relationship to Police Personality
The responses of the male officers when questioned about factors that
caused them stress, are in keeping with social distress
theory. Social distress theory proposes that stress is generated by the social system in which the individual functions. (Brandt
1993 305) The emphasis which the male officers placed on the stressfulness of factors within the institution itself is to be
expected, since the "institutional" functions of law enforcement are typically filled by men. Women in contrast, as relative
newcomers to law enforcement are more sensitive to the stress factors presented by the task performance dimensions of the
job than to the dynamics of the institution.
Gender differences result in the foundation of distinct variations in
the expression of police personality by male and female
officers. Such differences often develop in response to the unique demands placed on males and females by police work. For
example, a male officer may be particularly eager to take control in day to day situations to compensate for the lack of control
he feels within the institutional dimension of his work environment. This may result from the fact that he may be unable to
exercise his personal power when in contact with administrators or superiors, but is able to take a position of leadership and
control when in contact with criminals or subordinate officers.
Likewise, female officers often adopt specific patterns of behavior
to "fit in" in the police environment. Research has found that
four such patterns are typically used among female law enforcement officers to try to gain the acceptance of their male
counterparts. These patterns are distinct variations on the police personality, but they do not constitute separate police
"personalities". Rather than being separate entities, they are variations which differ in their expression of police personality
characteristics, but leave the core characteristics intact.
Variations of "Police Personality" in Female Officers
The most commonly used variation on the police personality which female
officers use is the neutral-impersonal style. It is
characterized by businesslike interaction with male coworkers, concern with being respected as a full member of the work
group, rejection of special treatment as women officers and use of "femaleness" only when appropriate for doing a better job
but not for limiting participation. (Wexler 1985 572) Those who adopt this style are concerned with being seen as an officer
first and as a woman second.
The second most common pattern of behavior in female police officers
is the semi masculine style. It is characterized by a
desire to be ‘one of the guys’, although there is an expectancy to not be totally accepted as equals to male officers, desire for
acceptance as people and emphasis or "going with the flow". (Wexler 1985 752)
The third most common behavior pattern among female officers is the
feminine style. In this pattern, female officers place more
emphasis on their identity as women than they do on their identity as police officers and are concerned with being attractive at
work. Most of their interactions with male coworkers exhibit sexual undertones, although none are reported to have been acted
upon. (Wexler 1985 752)
The least common pattern of interaction for female police officers has
been found to be the mixed style. This style is unusual in
that it does not exhibit a specific pattern of behavior. Rather, it is a combination of two of the other three styles. In this pattern,
one may be the primary style with the other being secondary, or both may be expressed equally.
Impact of Variations of Police Personality
Therefore, although a number of variations of the police personality
exist, one should not speak of a multiplicity of "police
personalities". These variations do not depart significantly from the general model of police personality, and therefore should not
be considered to be separate, unrelated entities. Instead, such variations represent a response on the part of police officers to
the demands of the job and the way in which he or she wishes to identify him or her self as a police officer.
These variations represent the flexibility of the police personality
to adapt to the life of each individual, while remaining firm in its
fundamental characteristics. The several variations of the police personality differ from one another only in that they express the
fundamental characteristics of police personality in a slightly different manner from one another. Therefore, such variations
represent social adaptation of the personality characteristics of police officers to the demands of their environment, further
reinforcing the idea that the police personality develops as a result of socialization.
Importance of the Study to be undertaken
The study of police personality is important, particularly in a time
when the need for a well- trained and effective police force is
increasingly needed. As the United States population continues to grow, the need for individuals to maintain law and order and
to act swiftly to restore the balance when crime
occurs. US census bureau data indicates that the United States population
has a net gain of one person every 15 seconds. It is
projected that the United States population will increase by as much as 306,575 people by the year 2008. Along with this
population growth comes an increase in crime, and thereby an increased need for crime control. US Department of Justice data
indicates that in 1995, there was a total rate of 5,278 criminal offenses committed for every 100,000 individuals. Therefore,
even if the rate of crime commission does not rise, the number of crimes committed will increase as a result of the increase in
population. In addition, population increase will also increase the demands on police officers to respond in emergency situations
of a non-criminal nature.
More specifically, it is of great importance to attempt to understand
how the personality of a police officer develops over the
course of a career for several reasons. One is for the purposes of aiding officers in performing at their highest level and avoiding
the pitfalls of a law enforcement career.
Another is for identifying what characteristics set the most effective
and successful police officers apart from others, so that
these characteristics can be sought out in those who are recruited and cultivated in those who are trained as police officers.
Only through understanding what characteristics contribute to effectiveness and success in law enforcement, and determining
how these characteristics are developed can the strong and efficient police force that is so greatly needed be formed and
Studies Supporting the Role of Socialization in Producing "Police Personality"
Predictions in the present study are made on the basis of several earlier
studies of police officers and their personality
characteristics. These include Niederhoffer (1967) who held that in police officers, whatever typical characteristics exist are
fostered almost entirely by the social system. (McKew 81-82)
This approach to police personality is also supported by Sterling (1972)
who used social psychology’s role theory to state that
social roles are predetermined entities which are defined and limited by culture. (McKew 81-82). Such roles are then
eventually adopted as a fundamental part of the personality of the individual. Gray (1975) also supports the idea that the police
personality is primarily a socially driven development , stating that personality characteristics provide a certain predisposition,
and they are reinforced through training and socialization. (McKew 81-82). This suggests that although certain personality
characteristics may initially influence the expression of the police personality, its long- term identity will be determined by the
training that an individual receives and the socialization process which he or she undergoes. It is expected that if such a trend is
not observed, one or more confounding factors may be responsible.
Despite some support in the literature for the idea that socialization
plays an important role in producing the "police personality",
the area has not been extensively investigated. Therefore, the present study is designed to look at the possible correlation
between the number of years an individual has served as a law enforcement officer and the degree to which he or she exhibits
"police personality" characteristics.
Hypothesis: It is hypothesized that on the job socialization is primarily
responsible for the formation of the "police personality".
(Leftkowitz 5, Adlam 1982) Therefore, it is hypothesized that officers will differ in their JPI-R scores from those with differing
number of years of law enforcement experience as well as from those with no law enforcement experience (college students
enrolled in general psychology).
It is hypothesized that police officers as a group, differ in their
expression of the personality characteristics measured by the
JPI-R from college students with no police experience. Therefore, it is predicted that when compared to individuals with no law
enforcement experience (college students), police officers are predicted to score higher than college students on all JPI-R
scales except for Anxiety and Empathy, on which students are expected to have elevated scores.
It is also hypothesized that police officers differ in their expression
of the personality characteristics in question according to the
number of years of working as a police officer. It is therefore hypothesized that there will be observable differences in the
scores of officers with less than 7 years, 7 to 14 years, 15-20 and more than 20 years of working as a police officer.
Basis for Hypothesis: The present study places primary emphasis on the
importance of the social influence approach to police
personality formation in which the distinctive personality traits of police officers are developed over time. Theoretically, this
stance is based on a favoring of "nurture" (social influence) over "nature" (inborn traits or characteristics) as the most powerful
determinant of behavior. Although "nature" does play a role by providing an individual with certain biological and psychological
characteristics, "nurture" determines whether or not and to what extent inborn characteristics may be expressed
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Subjects: Subjects will be divided into five groups according to their
level of law enforcement experience: College students
(original group: 39. Randomly reduced to 19 for matching purposes) enrolled in a general psychology course at a small, liberal
arts college in Manchester, NH, officers with less than 7 years of law enforcement experience, officers with 7-14 years of law
enforcement experience, and officers with 15-20 years of law enforcement experience, and those with more than 20 years of
law enforcement experience. Police subjects (19 subjects total) were drawn from : Massachusetts State Police, Marlborough
Police Department, Lexington Police Department, Port Orange Police Department, Dothan Police Department. Student
subjects were drawn from Introductory Psychology sections at Saint Anselm College, NH.
Materials: Jackson Personality Inventory- Revised (JPI-R) test booklets,
answer sheets, Subject information sheet (see
Appendix A) for gathering demographic data about the participants, informed consent forms (Appendix B), Debriefing
statements (Appendix C).
Procedure: 1. Each participant was given one test packet for anonymous
completing. Each packet contained one JPI-R test
booklet, one JPI-R answer sheet, one Subject information sheet, one informed consent form, one debriefing statement, (and
one stamped, self-addressed envelope for those completing the packet from a distance.)
2. Subjects were
instructed to read the Informed Consent Form carefully, and sign and date
it if they were willing
to participate in the study. Those who were willing to participate were instructed to read the instructions on both
the Subject information sheet and the JPI-R carefully before beginning. Subjects were then instructed to complete
the subject information sheet and the JPI-R as completely and honestly as possible. Subjects were informed that
the entire procedure should take approximately 1 hour.
3. After completion,
subjects were asked to relinquish the testing packets and were provided
with the debriefing
statement for the study, which contained a full description of its purpose.
JPI-R forms were scored according to the instructions contained in the
JPI-R manual section
pertaining to JPI-R self-scoring answer sheets. Completed scoring yields an outcome value for the 15 JPI-R
5. Results of
JPI-R were analyzed for correlation between scores on the 15 scales and
the number of years of
police service (as reported on the subject information sheet). Additionally, results were examined for correlations
between scales of the JPI-R. Results were also examined for correlation between JPI-R scores and size of
department, level of education for police officers.
6. Compare the results of the JPI-R from subjects to normative data provided by the JPI-R.
Measures used for Hypothesis Testing
The Jackson Personality Inventory- Revised
Testing this hypothesis will be performed using the Jackson Personality
Inventory, a standardized personality test which is
designed for use with no-psychiatric populations of average to above average intelligence. It is composed of 300 true/false
statements and examines individual personality characteristics as well as interactions in settings including work, school,
organizations, interpersonal and high level performance. It has a validity of .98-.99 and a reliability of approximately .80. The
JPI measures personality characteristics on 15 scales. The 15 scales fall into 5 categories: Analytical, Emotional, Extroversion,
Opportunistic, and Dependability.
The Analytical category is designed to measure complexity, breadth of
interest, innovation and tolerance. The Emotional
category focuses on empathy, anxiety, and cooperativeness. The Extroverted category contains sociability, social confidence
and energy level. The Opportunitistic category contains questions addressing social astuteness and risk taking, and the
Dependability category measures organization, traditional values and responsibility.
The Subject Information Sheet
To aid the process of matching, a subject information sheet (SIS) (Appendix
A) was developed by the researcher. This form
requires subject responses to questions such as: sex, age, educational level, socioeconomic status of family of origin, race,
parental occupation(s), if a police officer, number of years of service, location(s) of service and area of specialization. The only
possible confound that will not be addressed experimentally will be the effect of stress. Since this is a constantly changing
situationally effected variable, it should not vary systematically and therefore should not act as a confound in this experiment.
Therefore, although stress should not vary systematically to the extent that it may act as a confound, it is still worthy of attention
and should be studied wherever possible, since it may have powerful universal effects on the shaping of the police personality
and its expression.
Merits of Using the JPI-R for this Study
The JPI is ideal for the purposes of this study for several reasons.
First, police officers meet the general demographic
characteristics which the test provides for choosing subjects. Police officers are consistently found to be of average or above
average intelligence, and are members of a non-psychiatric population which contains work, organizational , interpersonal and
high level interactions with others.
Secondly, the JPI has been found to have good reliability and validity
and is supported by a large body of normative data. This
data was compiled through the administration of a number of nationwide trials with high school and college students and
working/professional persons. Subjects were coded according to their occupation, and results were examined to identify
personality trait trends. A number of trends emerged, including the ‘good cop’. This data thereby provides a basis for
comparing results of police subjects on this test with members of the general population on police personality characteristics.
Additionally, the 15 scales contained in the JPI specifically address
many of the major characteristics of the police personality.
(Bayley & Bittner 1984, Bennett and Greensteing 1975, Hogan 1971, Leftkowitz 1975, McKew 1e981, Murrell; Lester and
Arcuri 1978, Nowicki 1966). Unlike the commonly used MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory), the JPI
examines personality characteristics that apply to nearly all members of the population, making it a particularly useful tool. The
MMPI in contrast, is geared specifically for identifying gross psychopathology. Therefore, use of the MMPI would require
examination of subject characteristics that are not of interest for the purpose of this study.
The JPI in contrast allows for the focus of the study to be on the characteristics
of interest, and provides the opportunity to
examine each characteristic individually as well as all the characteristics as a whole. This allows for the researcher to examine
subtle variations that may exist between and within testing groups, thereby providing a clearer representation of police
personality as a whole.
Finally, the JPI is ideally suited for use with police officers because
it allows the researcher to gain insight into the personality of
the individual being tested, without being overly intrusive in its approach to gaining information. This is of special importance
when dealing with a special population such as police officers who may become offended or suspicious when presented with
questions that they interpret as prying.
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science and administration. Vol.10. No.3 . p. 344-349.
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Bartol,Curt R. (1991). Prediction validation of the MMPI for small-town
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psychology:research and practice. Vol. 22. No.2. p.127-32.
Bartol, Curt R. (1992). Women in small-town policing. Criminal justice
and behavior. Vol 19. No.3. p. 240-59.
Bayley, David H and Egon Bittner (1984). Learning the skills of policing.
Law and contemporary problems. Vol 47. No.4.
Bennett, Richard R and Theodore Greenstein (1975) The police personality:
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In the present study, the independent measure was the Jackson Personality
Inventory-Revised (JPI-R), a standardized test of
personality characteristics, and the subject information sheet which was used to obtain demographic data. The dependent
measures were the scores of participants on the 15 scales of the JPI-R: Anxiety, Breadth of Interest, Cooperativeness,
Complexity, Empathy, Energy Level, Innovation, Organization, Risk-taking, Responsibility, Social Astuteness, Social
Confidence, Sociability, Tolerance, and Traditional Values (See Appendix D for complete description of scales).
Demographics: Police officers were drawn from 6 police departments in
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Alabama, and Florida.
Subjects were chosen for participation on the basis of indication of interest when provided with a preliminary description of the
study. N= 19. (16 men, 3 women). Department size ranged from 55 to 2400 employees. Mean 433. Mode 55. Educational
level ranged from high school graduate to completed Master’s degree. The mode was a Bachelor’s degree. The mean was 3
years completed at a 4 year college. Ages ranged from 29 to 51. The mean was 38 (s.d of 6.35). Officers were divided into 2
categories: new officers and experienced officers. The new officer group (N=7) had a mean age of 33 (sd 3.79). Subjects
ranged in age from 29 to 38. There were 4 males, 3 females. Department size ranged from 55 to 2400. Mean = 688.57.
Educational level ranged from high school graduate to masters degree. The mean educational level was a bachelors degree .
The mean number of years worked as a police officer was 5.25 (sd 4.50). The experienced officers group (N=12) had a mean
age of 40.92 (sd 5.74). Subjects ranged in age from 32 to 51. There were 12 male officers. Department sized ranged from 55
to 2400. Mean department size was 284.58. Educational level ranged from high school graduate to masters degree. Mean
educational level = bachelors degree completed. The mean number of years worked as a police officer was 20.75 (sd 4.137).
Students were drawn from General Psychology classes at a small liberal
arts college in NH. Students participated in the study
as part of their course credit .N=19. (15 women 4 men). Educational level ranged from high school graduate .Mean associates
degree. Mode high school graduate. Ages ranged from 18 to 47. Mean was 19.9 years. One 47 year old participated, but did
not differ significantly from the scores of the other subjects.
Data was analyzed using linear correlations to determine inter-relationships
among the scales of the JPI-R for police officer
subjects. Linear regression analysis was conducted to determine the degree to which scores on scales found to correlate with
one another could be used to predict one another. Data was analyzed using the Mann-Whitney U test to determine the
significance of differences among group scores (police/student comparison, new/experienced police comparison, police/norm
Correlations. Correlations were first conducted on the police officer
subject group to determine whether or not relationships
existed among scores on the different scales of the JPI-R. Analysis revealed that the following significant relationships existed:
N= 19 Subject type= police officers
Factors Correlated Pearson Correlation coeff. / 2 tail significance
Innovation x Anxiety
.497 * /.031
Innovation x Breadth of Interest
.461 * /.047
Innovation x Complexity
.470 * /.042
Innovation x Energy Level
.636 **/ .003
Risk-Taking x Anxiety
Risk-taking x Complexity
Risk-taking x Energy Level
Risk-taking x Innovation
Responsibility x Breadth of Interest
Social Astuteness x Innovation
Tolerance x Breadth of Interest
Traditional Values x Complexity
-. 533 */.019
Sociability x Complexity
Social Astuteness x Complexity
* p< .05_ ** p<_.001
Correlation between Innovation and Anxiety, Risk-taking and Anxiety
were not expected. The remaining correlations are
expected outcomes on the basis of the inter-relatedness of these traits in the behavior of police officers. The consequences of
these correlations in terms of there effects on the outcome of data analysis
Correlations were also conducted to examine differences between the
scores of police officers and the scores that were used
as a normative sample in the development of the JPI-R. Results indicated that the following differences exist. (Table 2)
Subject type: Police officers (19) and JPI-R normative group (1)
of Scales (Police)
Correlation of Scales (JPI-R Norms)
INV x AXY = .497 *
INV x AXY = -.19
INV x BDI = .461*
INV x BDI = .42
INV x CPX = .470 *
INV x CPX = .42
INV x ENL = .636 **
INV x ENL = .35
RKT x AXY = .675 **
RKT x AXY =-.30
RKT x CPX = .472 *
RKT x CPX = .25
RKT x ENL = .581**
RKT x ENL = .25
RKT x INV = .830 **
RKT x INV = .38
RSY x BDI = .675 **
RSY x BDI = .20
SAS x INV = .488 *
SAS x INV = .17
TOL x BDI = .505 *
TOL x BDI = .37
TRV x CPX= -.533*
TRV x CPX =-34
SOC x CPX= .489 *
SOC x CPX = .02
SAS x CPX = .474 *
SAS x CPX = .10
As evident above, the scores of the police officers on the examined
scales are much more highly correlated with one another
than are those on the JPI-R normative group. This indicates that police officers differ from the normative group in some ways. It
is also important to note that on one of the correlations (INV x AXY) the relationship for police officers is positive, while for
the normative group it is negative.
Regressions: As a result of the large number of intercorrelations between
scales within the police officer subject pool, regression
analysis was performed to determine the degree to which the factors are inter-related. Results were then compared to
inter-relation data provided based on the JPI-R normative sample. When linear regression was performed for Risk-taking
(RSK), results indicated that 23.5% of the variance was accounted for by INV, AXY, CPX and ENL. Individually, INV
accounted for approximately 1% of the variance, AXY accounted for less than 1% of the variance, CPX accounted for 18.8 %
of the variance, and ENL accounted for 3.7% of the variance. Analysis of Innovation (INV) indicated that 43.5% of the
variance is accounted for when ENL, CPX, BDI and AXY are considered. Individually, BDI accounts for 25% of the
variance, BDI and ENL account for 34.2% of the variance (ENL = 9.2%), BDI, ENL and CPX account for 40.9% of the
variance (CPX= 6.7%), and BDI, ENL, CPX and AXY accounting for 43.5% of the variance (AXY=2.6%).
Mann-Whitney U Analysis
The Mann-Whitney U analysis was conducted for comparing the scores of
police officers with those of college students
(TABLE 3), new police officers with those of more experienced police officers.. The following differences were found to be
significant. (Results are presented graphically in FIG 1).
Subject groups: Police officers and College students
Factor Mann-Whitney U / Significance
9.500 X 0.00**
Breadth of Interest
141.000 .075 +
166. 000 .258
56. 00 X 0.00 **
83.500 XX .001 **
91.000 XX .002 *
90.000 XX . 002 *
112.000 X . 011 *
203.000 . 875
* p<_ .05
X Student score higher
** p<_ .001
XX Officer score higher
+ p is near significance, may be due to
Results indicated that officers scored higher on energy level, responsibility,
social confidence, while students scored higher on
anxiety, empathy and sociability. (Figure 1: Graphic Comparison of Officer/Student)
* p.05 ** p<.001
Note: Range of possible scores = 0 to 100
No significant differences were found when police subjects were grouped
as either new officers or experienced officers and
compared using the Mann-Whitney. Possible reasons for this will be addressed in the discussion section.
A Mann-Whitney non-parametric test was also conducted to determine any
possible differences existing between the scores of
officers and the normative scores for the JPI-R. The following differences were found to be significant. Officers differed
significantly from the norms on Complexity to the p<.05 level (.002), Innovation to the p<.05 level (.053), Risk-taking to the
p<.001 level (0.00), Responsibility to the p<.05 level (.002) and Traditional Values to the p<.001 level (0.00)
Additional Findings: A small sample size prevents assumptions from being
made about the relationship between the number of
years one has worked as a law enforcement officer and the scores on the JPI-R. However, when the Mann-Whitney was
conducted, the following differences were observed.
Finding 1: When officers with 15-20 years of law enforcement experience
were compared to students with no law enforcement
experience, the two groups were found to differ on Anxiety, Empathy, Responsibility. Students were found to be more anxious,
more empathetic, and less responsible than the officers.
Finding 2: When officers with more than 20 years of law enforcement
experience were compared to the no experience group
the two groups were found to differ on Anxiety, Breadth of Interest, Responsibility and Social confidence. Students were found
to be more anxious, had a narrower breadth of interest, were less responsible, and had less social confidence than the officers.
Finding 3: When officers with less than 7 years experience were compared
to the no experience group differences were
observed only on measures of Anxiety and Responsibility. Students were found to be more anxious and less responsible than
Finding 4: No significant differences were observed for comparison of
officers with 7-14 years of law enforcement experience
and the no experience group.
Further investigation with a larger subject pool will be necessary to
determine whether or not these results are representative of
the populations in question.
Finding 5: Differences were also observed between the scores of officers,
according to the number of years of law enforcement
experience possessed .Investigation of these observed trends also require a larger subject pool.
( #top )
The present study was designed to examine the personality characteristics
of police officers. A cross-sectional design was used
to examine the similarities and differences in the expression of personality characteristics by police officers and college students
as measured by the Jackson Personality Inventory-Revised (JPI-R). The JPI-R consists of 15 scales which address specific
aspects of human personality. (See Appendix D for description of characteristics measured by each scale)
It was hypothesized by this study that police officers would differ
significantly from college students in their expression of
personality characteristics measured by the JPI-R. This prediction was made based on the assumption that the personality
characteristics associated with working as a police officer are primarily the result of socialization and develop over time.
Therefore it was expected that officers, having been socialized in their role on the job would differ from college students who
had not been exposed to the experiences of police work Results supported the hypothesis that police officers would differ from
college students in their JPI-R scores. Results were not sufficient to determine whether or not these differences were the result
of socialization, or if some other factor was responsible. Officers were found to differ significantly in their expression of JPI-R
personality characteristics on 6 of the 15 scales. Although it must be acknowledged that some of these differences may be due
to chance, it is unlikely that all 6 occurred for this reason, indicating that the police officer and college student subjects differed
from one another in some way. The two groups were found to be highly similar in their responses to 3 of the scales. The
remaining scales indicated differences, but these did not reach statistical significance. The lack of significant differences between
the two groups is contrary to the anticipated results, since a willingness to take risks and a keen ability to evaluate others are
traits commonly associated with those who work as police officers.
It was also hypothesized that officers would differ from one another
in their expression of JPI-R personality characteristics
according to the number of years worked as a police officer. Subjects were classified as either new or experienced officers and
analyzed. No significant differences were found. However, it is important to note that a small sample size was used, and results
are therefore not necessarily representative of police officers as a group.
On the basis of a high degree of intercorrelation among scores on the
JPI-R scales, officers were also compared to the
normative sample used by the JPI-R. It was found that officers showed a higher degree of intercorrelation than did the
normative sample on all correlations, and differed significantly from the norms on Complexity, Innovation, Risk-taking,
Responsibility, and Traditional Values. This may reflect the differences in the requirements which each groups environment
places on it in a way similar to that illustrated through the differences observed between police officer and college student JPI-R
Explanation of JPI-R differences by Scale:
The differences observed between police officer and college student
subjects suggest a pattern of behavior that is most
representative of individuals working in law enforcement as presented by the available sample. Anxiety: The low scores of
police officers on Anxiety may occur because police officers often find themselves in stressful situations, but must maintain a low
to moderate level of arousal in order to be able to work effectively. For example, if a police officer became highly anxious and
overwhelmed each time he found himself in a stressful situation, he would not be able to perform his job of bringing the situation
under control effectively. College students in contrast find themselves in an academic atmosphere which requires them to
motivate themselves in order to accomplish necessary tasks. This may be because a moderate to high level of anxiety is
necessary to motivate college students and keep them focused on what needs to be accomplished. Therefore, police officers
and college students likely differ on anxiety because of the vastly different requirements of their social environments.
Empathy: The police officers may score lower on Empathy as compared
to college students as a result of a pattern of behavior
unique to police officers as well.. Officers do work which requires them to deal with large numbers of people every day, many
of whom have broken the law in some way. Therefore, police officers frequently come in contact with people who are engaging
in deception, and may under some circumstances be violent and dangerous. As a result of the population with which the police
officer is interacting, he or she must be somewhat skeptical about the quality of these individuals character. In addition, it is the
officers job to enforce the law in a fair, unbiased manner, and allowing emotion to play a role in their interactions with others
while on the job would make this responsibility more difficult to fulfill. Finally, police officers frequently encounter situations
which others find horrifying, but which require the officers immediate attention. Under these circumstances, the officer must not
allow him or her self to feel emotional, or is at risk for being unable to carry out his or her duties.
College students in contrast are highly concerned with establishing
and maintaining relationships with others. Therefore, for this
group Empathy is very important, and causes individuals to seek out situations in which it is possible to interact with others and
form meaningful relationships with them. This is especially significant in terms of the establishment of romantic relationships.
During the college years, it is likely to be highly important to individuals to find a 'significant other' and perhaps a potential mate.
Therefore, the scores of officers and college students on Empathy differ as a result in the difference in the end goal of interaction
with others. College students are primarily seeking to form relationships with others while police officers are seeking to maintain
control in social situations. To college students, the expression of emotion facilitates the end goal, while for police officers, such
expression of emotion would function contrary to the end goal.
Energy Level: The higher scores of police officers on Energy Level in
comparison to college students may illustrate the way in
which police officers behavior is tailored to the requirements their job. Officers are frequently required to work long, often
erratic hours and engaging in physically and mentally taxing activities. Therefore, they require the maintenance of a high level of
energy in order to do their job properly. Additionally, the situations in which officers may find themselves may sometimes
require the ability to respond rapidly, and may even be a matter of life and death. Therefore, officers need to maintain a
constant high level of energy in order to be ready to take action as needed.
College students in contrast may exhibit lower scores on energy level
when compared to police officers as a result of the
differences in the environments in which the two groups function. This may reflect the fact that college students typically find
themselves in environments which require only a moderate level of energy to perform effectively. More emphasis is placed on
the ability to maintain a constant level of effort than on responding rapidly to unexpected and potentially threatening situations.
Therefore, the environmental circumstances under which individuals find themselves acting likely has an impact on the manner in
which they act.
Responsibility: The officers higher scores on responsibility in comparison
to college students may reflect the nature of the
officers job itself. Police officers are supposed to serve an protect members of society, and therefore are more likely to feel a
moral obligation to individuals and society as a whole. This high level of responsibility should guide an officers actions and help
him or her to perform effectively. An officer who felt no moral obligation to others would then have little reason to carry out the
activities of his or her job, and would perhaps be better suited to life as criminal than as a guardian and enforcer of the law.
College students may score lower on Responsibility than police officers
as a result of differences in age and in differences in the
amount of exposure to real-life situations. College students are typically younger than the police officers and therefore may not
have reached the same level of moral maturity, resulting in a less developed sense of moral obligation to others. Additionally,
college students have had less exposure to situations in which feelings of moral obligation to others and society might be
experienced. Police officers however are frequently faced with moral dilemnas in which they must make choices on the basis of
whom their greatest moral obligation belongs to: the individual with whom they are interacting, or the society as a whole.
Social Confidence: The higher scores of officers on Social Confidence
in comparison to college students may illustrate the
importance of highly developed social skills to the police officer. Since police officers are often called upon to enforce rules and
regulations which others are unwilling to obey, it is essential that the officer be able to present him or her self as confident and
self assured. This is necessary for getting the individual in question to obey, and in its absence, an officer is likely to have little
success in getting the individual to comply.
College students may score lower on Social Confidence than police officers
for several reasons. First, they are likely to have
less experience in social situations in which they must take control than are the police officers. Second, they, as college students
are still trying to establish their own identity and place in society. Therefore, they are likely to be less confident than individuals
who have an established career and are accorded a certain measure of authority and respect on the basis of that position.
Sociability: Police officers lower scores on Sociability may illustrate
the possible consequences of working as a police officer.
Since police officers are required to interact with a large number and wide variety of people regularly, and are exposed to some
of the least desirable elements of society, many officers retreat from social contact when not working. This may be partially a
result of an officers desire to avoid further contact with unpleasant social situations during his or her off hours. Additionally,
officers may also refrain from seeking out the company of others as a way of attaining some measure of privacy. Since police
officers are such public figures, many man feel the need to pull away from others when the opportunity for privacy arises.
Finally, officers may feel uncomfortable seeking out the company of individuals whose life experiences differ considerably from
theirs. It is likely that non-officers may be horrified by occurences described by officers, and that they will shun further exposure
to such information. As a result, police officers may choose to seek the companionship only of a small circle of individuals with
whom they can share their experiences.
College students in contrast may score higher on Sociability than do
the police officers. This may occur for reasons similar to
those for the high score on empathy. College students are highly concerned with forming relationships and establishing an
individual identity, therefore making it of great importance to interact with numerous people and groups. Unlike police officers
who are thrust into interaction with others as a result of job requirements, college students must actively seek out
companionship, since the social interaction, however important it might be, is not the primary goal of college itself
Results also indicated that Police officers and College students showed
similarity on three of the JPI-R scales, Tolerance,
Traditional Values, and Breadth of interest. This may be a result of the homogeneous nature of the college population, selection
bias resulting from some characteristic shared by officers and students who volunteered for the study. If these results are not
due to a homogeneous sample, these similarities may exist for several reasons.
Tolerance: First, a similarity between the JPI-R scores of police officers
and college students on Tolerance may be due to
college students and police officers are both exposed to diverse groups of people who may differ from themselves in attitudes
and customs. This may lead both groups to be similarly tolerant of those who differ from themselves in order to function
effectively in their environments. In the case of college students, tolerance is important in order to accomplish the goal of
broadening ones mind intellectually, through exposure to new academic ideas. This issue is particularly relevant to the college
sample in question since these students are exposed to a liberal arts centered approach to education which may cause them to
be particularly tolerant of new ideas.
In the case of police officers, tolerance plays an important role since
they are frequently exposed to people and situations that
are outside their typical sphere of experience. Under these conditions, officers must maintain some degree of open-mindedness
about these new experiences in order to avoid allowing their personal perspectives from inappropriately biasing their responses
to situations. Therefore, although several possible explanations exist for the observed similarities between the groups, further
investigation is necessary to determine the reliability of this finding, as well as to determine the causes of such an observation.
Traditional Values: The similarity of officer and college student scores
observed on the Traditional Values scale of the JPI-R
may be a result of the highly structured populations from which the subjects were drawn. Police officers as a consequence of
their jobs are accustomed to a clearly defined system of rules and regulations and may express this in their JPI-R responses.
The college students in the sample similarly were drawn from a college population characterized by a system of rules and
regulations. This is expressed through the presence of a religious order on campus, emphasizing the presence of religious rules,
as well as through the presence of pariatals which govern inter-visition between the sexes. Therefore, it is not surprising that the
two groups show similarly high scores on the measure of Traditional values.
Breadth of Interest: The similarity of officer and student scores on
the Breadth of Interest scale of the JPI-R may be due to the
intellectual challenges which both groups face. Police officers may be exposed to a wide variety situations in the course of their
work, requiring some degree of understanding of numerous topics. Therefore, in order to perform his or her job with the highest
degree of efficiency and skill, an individual may pursue knowledge in a number of diverse areas. A second possibility is that
officers may engage in activities that are routine and monotonous in their work, and may therefore pursue a number of outside
interests in their free time as a means of combating boredom.
College students may exhibit a Breadth of Interest score similar to
those of the police officers as a consequence of their
exposure to a wide variety of topics in their college curriculum. The liberal arts focus of the college population sampled makes
this especially likely. The fact that many of the college students in the sample were in their first on second year of college raises
the possibility that this score may also be due to the students investigation of possible college majors. Finally, this may also be
due to the new sense of personal freedom which the students might experience as a result of being away at school. As a result
of this feeling of freedom, the students may pursue their interests in a wide variety of diverse topics. Therefore, it is
understandable that both groups would receive high scores on Breadth of Interest, although it is not possible to determine the
precise reason for each groups score.
General conclusions: On the basis of the data obtained, it is not possible
to determine how these differences between police
officers and college students develop, ,or whether or not they are caused by socialization. However, it does provide a valuable
illustration of how and why these differences might occur as a result of environmental socialization. The differences in JPI-R
scores of the police officers from both the college students and the normative sample suggest that the police officers represent a
unique sample with personality characteristics that differ from those of the general population. Therefore, although further
research to determine the representativeness of the police sample and the way in which the differences between the groups
develop, it is cautiously suggested that socialization appears to be a highly plausible possible explanation for the differences
Explanation of Differences between Officer scores and JPI-R Normative scores
Pearson correlation analysis of the JPI-R scores of police officer subjects
showed a high degree of inter-correlation among the
scores of many of the scales. These measures of intercorrelation were also compared to those for the normative group used by
the JPI-R. It was found that the police subjects exhibited a much higher occurence of intercorrelation than the normative group
did, sometimes up to three times greater. This indicates that the police subjects differ in some way from the normative sample
used by the JPI-R There are several possible reasons for this finding.
First, the high degree of intercorrelation may be a result of the homogeneous
nature of the subject group. Intercorrelation could
then occur because the officers share similar experiences which may shape their responses on a number of scales of the JPI-R.
In this case, there may be grounds for investigation of the issue of whether or not this pattern is typically of police officers as a
group. Second, it raises the question of how such a unique pattern of characteristics occurs. For example, do officers possess
these characteristics upon entering law enforcement, or are they developed at particular points in a police officers career?
Additionally, the inter-correlation observed among the JPI-R responses of police officers provides preliminary indications of the
pattern of personality characteristic expression among police officers in the sample.
Important findings include: the correlation of several scales with the
Risk-taking scale, as well as several scales with the
Innovation scale (Table 1). It was found that Risk-taking was most highly correlated with Innovation, while Innovation was
most highly correlated with Energy Level. The high correlation between Risk-taking and Innovation may suggest that police
officers who score high on Innovation are likely to also score high on measures of Risk-taking. This might occur because an
individuals tendency toward creative thinking leads an individual to engage in somewhat risky behavior as an outlet for
expressing these creative thoughts and actions. The relationship between Innovation and Energy level might occur as a result of
an individuals high level of energy acting as a motivating factor for the expression of creative thoughts and ideas. Overall, these
results may indicate that Risk-taking and Innovation scores have an important impact on the expression of these other
characteristics among police officers. However, further investigation is necessary to determine the way in which these scales are
related to one another.
Officer JPI-R scale Intercorrelation in View of Regression Analysis
It is important to note that despite the high degree of intercorrelation
between the scales previously noted when, regression
analysis was conducted the scales with the highest correlation coefficient did not exhibit the greatest degree of prediction for
one another. Instead, the variance in the Risk-taking score was accounted for primarily by the complexity score. In the case of
Innovation, although it was most highly correlated with Energy level, its variance was primarily accounted for by Breadth of
Interest. These conflicting results may have occurred as a result of the large number of correlations that were conducted on the
data. Therefore, further research is necessary to determine the true relationship between the scales examined here.
Trends observed According to Variations in Number?of Years of Law Enforcement Experience
Although a small sample size prevented statistical analysis from being
conducted on the differences between groups of police
officers according to number of years worked in law enforcement, and those between officers and college students, several
trends were observed. The most unusual of these was that when the officer groups were compared to college students, it was
observed that officers with 7-14 years of law enforcement experience were most similar to the college students, followed by
those officers with less than 7 years of working as a police officer. This trend differs from what was expected, in that it was
anticipated that those officers with the least law enforcement experience would be most similar to the college students in their
One possible reason for this unexpected outcome is that individuals
who have worked as police officers for 7-14 years may be
finding themselves at a crossroads both personally and professionally. Having been exposed to the ups and downs of police
work, these individuals may be torn between their desire to maintain an identity as a police officer, and their desire to identify
themselves as individuals in the way that they did prior to entering law enforcement. In this case, the lack of difference observed
between the officers and college students may represent a temporary backlash against the characteristics associated with police
officers, and a return to those characteristic of individuals outside law enforcement. In addition, this result may also be
influenced by the cross-sectional design of the study. Consequently, the differences observed may not be characteristic of these
groups within the larger world population, and should not be relied upon.
With the exception of the previously mentioned finding, the anticipated
trend was observed both in comparisons of officer
groups with one another and in officers with college students. The greater the difference in the number of years of law
enforcement experience, the greater the differences in the JPI-R scores of the groups. This indicates that some difference may
exist between the groups on the basis of the number of years of law enforcement experience subjects possessed. This may
suggest that the personality characteristics expressed by police officers, as measured by the JPI-R undergo some change as the
number of years worked as a police officer increases. This might be caused by police officers adapting their personality styles
to better suit the requirements of their environment. Such a finding would tentatively support the hypothesis that the personality
characteristics of police officers change over time and that socialization is responsible for this change. However, further
research is necessary to determine the reliability and validity of these findings.
In sum, the results of the present study indicate that differences do
exist between the police officers and the college students
examined, as well as between the police officers and the normative sample of the JPI-R. This cautiously suggests that some
important change in the expression of the personality characteristics measured by the JPI-R occurs when one works as a police
officer, setting him or her apart from the general population. The trends observed which suggest variations in the expression of
JPI-R personality traits change as a consequence of the number of years an individual has worked as a police officer also
suggest that the differences between police officers and college student and normative groups may be gradually occuring.
However, future research is necessary to determine the reliability and validity of the obtained results.
Examination of the Present Study in View of Current Literature
The results of the present study are in keeping with the body of literature
that claims the existence of a unique pattern of
personality characteristics in persons working as police officers. (Adlam 1982, Bennett & Greenstein 1975, Gerber 1996,
Hogan 1971, Kaufman 11992, Leftkowitz 1975, Manuel 1993, McKew 1981, Murrell, Lester & Arcuri 1978, Wexler 1985)
However, the results are not sufficient to determine conclusively whether the "nature" or the "nurture" approach to explaining
police personality is correct. In fact, it is possible that a combined influence rather than either approach individually is
responsible. Therefore, although the data gathered from the present subjects of the study indicates that socialization may play
some role in the development of patterns of personality characteristics that cause officers to differ from other members of the
population, this has not been proven.
Limitations of the Present Study
The present study contains a number of problems and limitations. The
first, and most severe limitation of the study was its small
sample size. This prevented several of the factors of interest from being statistically analyzed, therefore making the results of the
study less applicable to the research question.
These include factors such as gender, race, age, size of police department,
geographical location of police department or
college, number of years worked as a police officer, officer reported stress level, officer area of specialty (if any), officer dyadic
distribution, etc. .
A second limitation of the present study is the homogenous composition
of both the college student and police officer groups.
This makes it difficult to generalize results to the populations which the subject groups are meant to represent. The college
students were all drawn from the same small college population in which the majority of students are white and middle class.
Therefore, this sample is not representative of college students in general. Similarly, the police population was drawn entirely
from Police departments in the eastern United States and is therefore not necessarily representative of police departments as a
whole. In the future, a more heterogeneous sample of subjects would be necessary.
A third limitation of the study is the uneven gender distribution across
groups. The police officer subject pool was composed
primarily of males, while the college students were predominantly female. This may have had an impact on the JPI-R scores of
each group, although analysis of this factor was not possible, due to the small group sizes.
A fourth limitation is that a sampling bias is present in both the college
and police samples. College students given the choice of
participating in a research study or write a paper for their General Psychology class. Therefore, these students are not
necessarily a representative sample of the population from which they were drawn. The sample obtained represents only those
students enrolled in a General Psychology course at the college which they attend, and only those students from that population
who were attracted to participation in the present study. Similarly, the police subjects are representative of only those members
of the police population who were willing to participate in the study and to fulfill all study requirements. Therefore, the study
results cannot be readily generalized to college and police populations in general.
A fifth limitation of this study is that it is cross-sectional in nature
and therefore may be effected by cohort effects. However, this
possibility cannot be investigated at present because of the small sample size. A longitudinal design would likely be more
reliable and valid than the present design since it would allow a group of subjects to be monitored over the course of several
years. This would then make it possible to determine more conclusively whether or not the personality characteristics of police
officers change over time.
A sixth limitation of the present study is that only one measure of
personality characteristics was used, and was administered on
only one occasion. This makes the study vulnerable to possible instability in the personality traits observed through JPI-R
scores, thereby making the obtained results less reliable than they might otherwise be. A test-retest procedure, or the use of
more than one test to measure personality characteristics could remedy this problem to some degree, by increasing the
likelihood that the observed JPI-R scores represent relatively stable personality characteristics.
A seventh limitation of the study is the conflicting results of correlational
and regressional data analysis for the police officer
sample. These results make it difficult to determine?the true nature of the relationship between the scales examined. In the
future, action should be taken to prevent such conflict from occuring. This might include a reduction of the number of
correlations conducted to reduce the likelihood that some of the results occurred due to chance.
Use of the Present Study for Future Research
In the future, it would be necessary to improve the present study in
several ways to fully address the central research question,
as well as to pursue the secondary variables which might impact results. Necessary improvements include larger, more
heterogeneous samples that are more representative of the populations being studied, an examination of possibly influential
factors such as gender, race, stress level, department size, age, area of officer specialization (if any), geographical location, etc.
Also, a longitudinal design might be more effective in tracing the variations of personality characteristics of police officers over
time. However, even if not used exclusively, a longitudinal design would help to either support or deny the findings of a
conducted cross-sectional study.
Additionally, it would also be important to administer the JPI-R to
subjects on more than one occasion to ensure the stability of
the personality characteristics observed, or to use more than one measure of personality characteristics for this purpose.
Examination of comments obtained through the Subject Information Sheet (Appendix A) might also reveal useful information
about the way in which police officers view their jobs, and be important to a future study of police personality characteristics.
Another important addition to future studies might also be to reduce the number of correlations conducted to avoid the
conflicting data that may result from correlations occurring due to chance.
Upon completion of the necessary changes in the study design, further
research might reveal a number of important findings.
First, it might be determined with a greater degree of certainty whether or not police officers do in fact differ from college
students and normative samples in their expression of personality characteristics. Additionally, a clearer picture of the
relationship between the number of years an individual has worked as a police officer and the pattern of personality
characteristics expressed might be provided through further study. The results of such research could then be applied in several
First, if it was found that no differences existed between police officers
and other populations, less time, energy and money
would need to be devoted to teaching police recruits how to "be" police officers. That is, more emphasis would be placed on
teaching the skills of policing, with little time being devoted to teaching techniques such as how to be more assertive in
interactions with others. Such a finding would make this type of training unnecessary since it would be assumed that recruits
already possessed the personality characteristics of a police officer.
However, if differences were found between officers and other groups,
more emphasis would be placed on either choosing
candidates who already possessed the desired personality characteristics (if it is assumed that such characteristics are innate),
or on teaching new recruits to develop the characteristics in question.
Second, regardless of the specific nature of the results, future research
could be used to illustrate the pattern of personality
characteristics present in the police population and allow individual departments to identify areas in which change is needed. In
this way, those characteristics that are viewed as conducive to successful performance of police work could be reinforced, and
characteristics viewed as detrimental could be discouraged.
In conclusion, although the present study provides some useful preliminary
data about possible differences between police
officers and college students or a normative sample in the expression of JPI-R personality characteristics, and the possible
variations in these characteristics over time, much work remains to be done. Therefore, the present study should be regarded as
a pilot study to which any necessary changes should be made.
( #top )
Subject Information Sheet
do you feel an ideal police department should have?
2)In what ways does your department represent this ideal? ____________________________________
In what ways is it in need of improvement?
3)What do you feel is the most important
task or lesson for a new officer to learn?
4) Number of years you have served
as a police officer: _______________
5) Locations at which you have worked as a police officer: __________________________________
6) Type of area in which you have
served: rural urban suburban other (please specify) _______
7) Areas of law enforcement in which
you have specialization: (ie narcotics, accident reconstruction, etc.)
8) What is the size of your department?: less than 10 officers
more than 100 officers (please estimate)
9) How many siblings, if any, do
you have? # of male siblings: _______ # of female siblings: ________
10) Are you the: oldest middle youngest
11) In what city/town and state
were you raised? _____________________________________________
12) Which of the following best describes your present level of education:
Elementary school completed
Middle school/Jr. High completed
Some High school completed
High school graduate
Some Jr. college completed
Junior college completed (degree or certificate)
1 year completed at 4 year college
2 years completed at 4 year college
3 years completed at 4 year college
Associates degree received
Graduate of 4 year college (Bachelor’s degree)
Some technical school completed
Graduate of technical school program
Training gained through military service
Some graduate school completed
Completed Master’s Degree
Completed J.D or Ph.D
13) Are you currently: single
14) Occupation(s) of your parent(s):
(please specify which parent held which job)
15) Racial group to which you belong: Caucasian (white)
Other (please specify): __________________________________
16) Income group of the family to which you were born: less than $10,000/year
More than $70,000/year
17) Age: _______
18) Sex:Male Female
Informed Consent Form
The study in which you are about
to take part will require you to respond to a number of true and false
questions and to complete a brief form
requesting demographic data. Please answer both the true/false questions and respond to the data sheet to the best of your ability. The entire
process of this study should take approximately 45minute to 1 hour. Do not write your name on either of these forms. Please be advised that
participation in this study is entirely voluntary, and you have the right to cease participation at any time and withdraw all information which
you have provided to the study. All information provided by you will be kept strictly confidential. If at any time you have questions or
concerns about the study, the final results will be made available to you upon request.
If you are satisfied with the above
description of what will be required of you by this study and understand
your rights as a participant as they
are described above, please sign your name below. By signing your name, you are stating that you are aware of the requirements of the study,
and agree to participate of your own free will.
certify that I have read the above description of the study which I am
about to participate
in and understand the statements contained in it. I am willing to act as a participant in this study, and perform the above mentioned tasks as
required of me. If at any time I choose to withdraw from participation in the study, I am aware of my right to do so, as well as to withdraw all
information that I have provided.
Experimenter: Laura M. Berry
Saint Anselm College
Manchester, New Hampshire
The study in which you have just participated was designed to examine
the characteristics associated with "police personality"
and how they may change over time. It was hypothesized by the experimenter that police personality characteristics change
over time, with those who have more law enforcement experience exhibiting a greater degree of these than those who have little
or no experience. This hypothesis was based on the idea that socialization plays a large role in the shaping of an individual’s
personality characteristics, thereby resulting in variations in the expression of personality characteristics over time. To test this
hypothesis, the Jackson Personality Inventory was given to all participants to identify the degree to which characteristics
associated with the police personality are present. An additional form was provided for the collection of demographic data on
all participants. Neither method of investigation involved any risk to participants at any time, and did not threaten participant
privacy in any way.
Groups of college students enrolled in General Psychology courses were
used as comparison groups.
Thank you for your participation in this study. I hope that you enjoyed
it. I will make the results of this study available to you
upon its completion if you so desire. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact me:
Laura M. Berry
100 Saint Anselm Drive #923
Laura M. Berry
364 Grant Ave. #147
Explanation of Meanings of JPI-R Scales
(Taken from the JPI-R Handbook pg.21-23)
Complexity: involves a preference for elaborate or ‘deep’ explanations
and interpretations of things and events. Although
slightly related to intelligence, this trait denotes more a certain way of thinking than it does cognitive ability. Like most other
personality traits, Complexity will be functional in some situations but not others. A high scorer might be expected to
demonstrate an analytical and probing style of thinking, whereas a low scorer might be expected to adopt a more concrete,
bottom-line approach in dealing with other people and with day-to-day issues.
Breadth of Interest: denotes concerns of a more-or-less intellectual
nature, rather than those involving , for example, physical
activities. People scoring high on this scale would be expected to show intellectual curiousity about a diversity of topics.
Breadth of Interest does not refer to the intensity of interest in any one area. Hence, high scorers are not necessarily ‘deep’
thinkers, and low scorers are not necessarily ‘shallow’ thinkers.
Innovation: denotes a tendency to be creative in thought and action.
A high scorer on this scale might be expected to prefer
novel solutions to problems, and to appreciate original ideas on the part of others. A low scorer could be expected to prefer
tried-and-true ways of doing things, and to dislike original thinking styles.
Tolerance: denotes an individual’s acceptance of persons holding attitudes
and customs that are different from his or her own .
A high scorer will readily adopt new and diverse points of view. A low scorer is more likely to evaluate others negatively if they
disagree with him or her and /or if they express unusual opinions.
Empathy: refers to a person’s emotional responsiveness toward other
people. A person scoring high on this scale might be
expected to seek out situations or activities involving deep, personally meaningful interactions with others. Someone scoring low
on this scale might be expected to prefer activities more impersonal in nature. If unwillingly confronted with an emotional
situation, the low scorer would be less inclined than the high scorer to allow it to affect his or her behavior.
Anxiety: scale was intended to assess mild to moderate manifestations
of stress, not to be confused with the more debilitating
varieties encountered in psychiatric patients. A person scoring high on Anxiety may be viewed as being generally worrisome
with regard to day-to-day activities and personally relevant events. A person scoring low on Anxiety may be viewed as being
unusually free from even the normal range of fears and uncertainties that affect most people from time to time.
Cooperativeness: denotes sensitivity and responsiveness to social pressures
and norms, especially as expressed by people in
the lerson’s immediate social environment. Although related to conformity, it goes beyond the superficial and observable kinds
of compliance, such as might be revealed in a person’s dress. A person scoring high on Cooperativeness could be expected to
readily accept the desires of other group members, and adopt willingly the group’s views regarding particular people, places,
and events. A person scoring low on Cooperativeness would be expected not only to remain independent of group pressures,
but also at times, to resist them more actively.
Sociability: refers to the tendency to seek out the companionship of
other people in a variety of situations. High scorers tend to
derive pleasure form sharing their time with others, and will actively pursue development of interpersonal relationships. Low
scorers, on the other hand, would prefer being alone, actively avoiding the company of other people whenever possible. In
situations where social contact is unavoidable, low scorers are more likely to terminate the interaction earlier.
Social Confidence: focuses on the more interpersonal aspects of self
assuredness. A high scorer on this scale would be
expected to demonstrate confidence and composure in dealing with others. A low scorer would be expected to be more timid
and self-conscious in such cases and to experience discomfort and embaressment . Interpersonal self esteem is important in
evaluating personality, but it should be recognized that other types of confidence may be important in certain situations.
Energy Level: refers to an individual’s characteristic overall level
of functioning in carrying out day-to-day activities. Someone
scoring high on this scale would be expected to be lively and energetic in a variety of self-selected tasks and to demonstrate
appreciable enthusiasm and endurance. Someone scoring low on this scale would be expected to avoid undertaking numerous
and /or strenuous activities and to fatigue easily if such activities were unavoidable.
Social Astuteness: is perhaps the most difficult of the JPI scales to
define and validate. In general, it denotes a form of social
intelligence. A person scoring high on this scale is likely to be an effective negotiator, aware of other’s motives, diplomatic in
presenting issues to others, and to resolve conflict situations through persuasion rather than aggression. Such a person will tend
to get his or her way with people without their necessarily becoming aware of the subtle means used to achieve that purpose.
Low scorers are likely to be considered less tactful in dealing with others, preferring a more direct style of communication.
Risk-taking: has been considered to include four facets: physical, monetary,
social and ethical risk taking (Jackson, Hourany,
& Vidmar, 1972). although the Risk-Taking scale assesses all four facets, it tends to weight monetary risk taking somewhat
more heavily than the others. Individuals who score highly on this scale are prone to exposing themselves to situations having
uncertain outcomes . Low scorers prefer to be more cautious in their approach to things.
Organization: reflects an orderly and systematic approach to undertaking
daily activities. A person who scores highly on this
scale is inclined to plan ahead and to complete assignments on schedule. A person who scores low on Organization may be
inclined to leave things until the last minute , and to avoid structure in work activities.
Traditional Values: pertains to cultural change. People differentially
reflect changes in societal values that occur over time.
Traditional values persist, but not equally in every person. Similarly, values that will predominate in the future already are
present in varying degrees in current attitudes of individuals. The Traditional Values: scale assesses the degree to which an
individual incorporates ‘old’ values, as opposed to more modern views regarding topics such as patriotism and relations
between the sexes. It is a scale in which significant differences would be expected between old and young adults. In general, a
high scorer would be expected to be more conservative, and a low scorer more liberal in his or her views of major cultural
Responsibility: is identified largely in terms of the degree to which
a person feels an abstract moral obligation to other people
and to society at large. A high scorer feels a sense of obligation ‘to do the right thing’, regardless of possible personal
consequences. A low scorer may be not only indifferent to such obligations, but also unduly frank in reporting ethical
transgressions. Although it is possible that responses to items on this scale may be influenced, in part, by a desire to create a
favorable impression, it should be noted that all items for all JPI scales were selected on the basis of a higher association with
their own scale than with social desirability.
Encouragement for students:
For those of you who will be writing a senior thesis , here are some words of advice and encouragement:
1. Choose your topic early, and start gathering literature right away
2.Set goals for yourself and set a schedule for working on your thesis research- stick to it
3. Talk to others who have already written a thesis- they will be happy to share what they have learned with you, and flattered that you asked them for advice
4. Talk to your professors if you have questions or concerns- the only stupid questions are the ones you don't ask.
Remember, they can't read your mind. They won't know what you need from them unless you tell them.
5. Find ways to cope with the stress you will be under. Work out a plan for relieving stress before you even start to write.
Don't wait until you are having a nervous breakdown.
6. Keep multiple copies of your work on several disks
7. ALWAYS print out hardcopies of your work.
8. Don't overact- there will be plenty of things that will go wrong. You won't need to make them worse.
9. Try to have a sense of humor about it. I will end eventually
10. Don't let it become the center of your life- If you don't get an A , it isn't the end of the world.
Finally, remember that you are a student, and you are here to learn.
Your work may not be perfect, and that is okay. You are still a good and
capable person. Give yourself a break and try to smile.