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Chapter 2

PSYC39H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Lewis Terman, Police Psychology, Job Analysis

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David Nussbaum

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Chapter 2: Police Psychology
Police Selection !
-police selection procedures - screen out undesirable candidates, select in desirable ones;
use characteristics like fitness, cognitive abilities, personality, job-related task performance!
A Brief History of Police Selection!
-Lewis Terman, Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test to help with police selection - he
recommended minimum IQ should be 80; psych screening became standard in US !
-now we also have other criteria - higher educational requirements, intro of formal tests to
assess their cognitive abilities and personality features; formalized the process !
-selection research isn’t as common in Canada as the US but we do use many of the same
selection procedures - background checks, medical exams, cognitive ability and personality
tests; some dierences among territories and provinces, e.g. regarding polygraph tests !
-RCMP selection process - hurdle approach in which you have to pass each hurdle to join !
meet job requirements - e.g. be citizen, 19, valid license, firearm, relocate, no convictions;
this allows you to then apply online !
physical abilities requirement evaluation; also vision and hearing tests !
RCMP entrance exam (RPAB) which tests personality and cognition - forms after this !
regular member selection interview (RMSI) - checks your qualities !
pre-employment polygraph - assessment of your suitability for police work !
health assessment, field investigation and security clearance, cadet training !
Developing Police Selection Instruments!
-conducting a job analysis!
job analysis - procedure to identify knowledge, skills, abilities (KSA) that make good cop !
organizational psychologist + police agency could do this together, using methods like
surveys and observation; can also ask members of agency to list qualities they think are
essential for their job !
problems include fact that KSAs of good cop might not be stable over time - in one year, it
might be cops that are enthusiastic but in another, it could be cops that are responsible !
another problem is that dierent types of cops have dierent KSAs - e.g. a constable
might say a sense of humour is important but a senior ocial might say it’s not, so should
you look for this as a criteria or not? !
generally accepted KSAs - honesty, reliability, sensitivity to others, good communication
skills, high motivation, problem-solving skills, being a team player !
-constructing and validating selection instruments !
goals - develop a selection instrument for measuring extent to which police applicants
possess relevant KSAs; ensure that instrument relates to measures of police performance !
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predictive validity is our biggest concern here - extent to which scores on test predict
scores on some other measures, e.g. supervisor ratings of police performance; want a
strong positive correlation but can also have strong negative or intermediate !
challenge - measurement of police performance is crucial because it’s going to have a
direct impact on validity of the selection instrument; many measures exist, e.g. number of
complaints against an ocer, performance ratings, etc. but not much evidence to suggest
which one is the best!
dierent picture of performance can emerge depending on measure used - e.g. measures
used during training don’t always generalize to on-the-job performance and ratings by
dierent individuals (peer vs supervisor) can contradict each other !
The Validity of Police Selection Instruments!
-selection interview - determines extent to which applicants has KSA needed for job !
most common selection instrument used !
form of a semi-structured interview - interviewer has preset list of questions that he asks
every applicant to compare objectively; want to figure out if the applicant has the KSA
needed for the job and the qualities vary from agency to agency, depending on the job too !
research shows that interviews can sometimes predict job performance but not always -
mixed results so should use these with caution but changing the way in which you
conduct the interview can also impact validity - e.g. more structured it is, more likely to
predict job performance well !
-psychological tests !
cognitive ability tests - procedure for measuring verbal, mathematical, memory, and
reasoning abilities !
-RPAT used by RCMP - measures composition, memory, comprehension, logic, etc. !
-better at predicting performance during police academy training rather than future
performance on the job — personality variables play a larger role in determining job
success, beyond your cognitive abilities
personality tests !
-Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory - identifies people with
psychopathological problems, e.g. depression; used a lot by many agencies !
-not very good at predicting academy performance or on the job performance, low
validity; when checking whether test taker is “faking good”, it’s a good predictor of the
problematic behaviour !
-low validity might be because it was never made for this specific purpose !
-Inwald Personality Inventory - used to identify police applicants who are suitable for
police work by measuring their personality attributes and behaviour patterns; made
specifically for this purpose and has higher validity
-assessment centres - facilities in which the behaviour of police applicants can be observed
in a number of situations by multiple observers; used a lot in Canada !
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