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Suitability in law enforcement: Assessing multifaceted selection criteria
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science, Departement of Educational Measurement.
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

When selecting applicants for professions with job descriptions involving complex human interaction, identifying suitable candidates is essential. This strongly applies in police selection, because police officers must act appropriately at all times, deal with difficult and sometimes dangerous work situations, and come into contact with people who are in highly emotional states, such as anxiety, fear, excitement, and shock. However, suitability is a broad and vague concept that cannot be even defined without understanding the value of various personal skills and qualities for specific duties, ways that such skills are manifested during life as an officer (potentially both on- and off-duty), and appropriate ways to assess them.

The overall aim of this thesis was to explore the personal skills and qualities that are relevant to suitability for the police profession with a special focus on the concept of empathy, and to investigate how it can be conceptualized and measured in the context of selection. Two of the four studies focused on different perspectives regarding the personal skills and qualities of a good police officer, while the other two focused on theoretical aspects and practical measurement of empathy.

Mixed methods were used, in acknowledgement of the value of using different forms of data collection, material, and analytical methods to achieve valid information.

The results and findings support several of the personal skills and qualities that have been identified in previous research and also can be found as criteria in police selection. Empathy should be considered in the selection process, but it is also important to ensure that there is an alignment between the definition of the concept and practical outcomes in police work. The findings indicate that empathy could be conceptualized in a relevant way using a social cognitive neuroscience (SCN) approach. In particular, a modified, Swedish 4-factor version of the Empathy Assessment Index (based on recent theoretical advances in SCN) appears to have considerable potential for further development.

Future studies will focus on areas identified as requiring further research, such as the development of this instrument by adding complementary measures focusing on manifestations of empathy and other relevant qualities in actual work-related situations. Other aspects that require further attention include the definition, assessment, and impact of social desirability in selection contexts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2015. , 52 p.
Series
Academic dissertations at the department of Educational Measurement, ISSN 1652-9650 ; 8
Keyword [en]
selection criteria, measurement, empathy, self-report instrument, validity, interpersonal qualities
National Category
Learning
Research subject
didactics of educational measurement
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-111044ISBN: 978-91-7601-373-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-111044DiVA: diva2:866376
Public defence
2015-11-27, Hörsal F, Humanisthuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-11-03 Created: 2015-11-02 Last updated: 2015-11-02Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Selection practitioners' views on recruitment criteria for the profile of police officers: A comparison between two police organizations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Selection practitioners' views on recruitment criteria for the profile of police officers: A comparison between two police organizations
2016 (English)In: International Journal of Law Crime and Justice, ISSN 1756-0616, E-ISSN 1876-763X, Vol. 45, 103-119 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Social changes, associated shifts in police work, and cultural variations raise interesting questions about the ideal police applicant. These issues were explored by investigating key 'suitability' criteria for applicants to join the Swedish National Police and the Catalan Police in Spain. First, criteria and selection procedures in official documents were examined. Next, focus group sessions were carried out with selection practitioners about different criteria. Results indicate several similarities between the organizations in formal criteria and selection procedures, notably an emphasis on peace-making and problem-solving abilities. However, differences were found in areas such as loyalty towards the organization and differences that correspond to different organizational images. The views from the selection practitioners mostly align with the official documents but different outcomes are possible due to different interpretations of how a given construct should manifest itself in actual performance. Practical implications from this study could prove valuable for improving selection practices.

Keyword
successful, applicant profile, police officer, selection, organization
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology) Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-111042 (URN)10.1016/j.ijlcj.2015.12.001 (DOI)000376796400006 ()
Available from: 2015-11-02 Created: 2015-11-02 Last updated: 2017-10-16Bibliographically approved
2. Validating a measure of the ‘successful/good’ police officer using data from recruits in two different police systems
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Validating a measure of the ‘successful/good’ police officer using data from recruits in two different police systems
(English)Article in journal (Other academic) Submitted
Keyword
successful, good, attitudes, recruits, police, measurement invariance
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology) Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-111043 (URN)
Available from: 2015-11-02 Created: 2015-11-02 Last updated: 2015-11-02
3. Empathy from a police work perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Empathy from a police work perspective
2015 (English)In: Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention, ISSN 1404-3858, E-ISSN 1651-2340, Vol. 16, no 1, 60-75 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this paper is to identify an appropriate conceptual model of empathy from the perspective of police work. This paper draws on the existing literature from two areas of research: (a) the literature describing the characteristics of the ideal police officer from a general perspective, as well as in a specifically Swedish context and (b) the literature analysing empathy as a theoretical construct. It is found that theoretical interdisciplinary approaches in the fields of social psychology and social cognitive neuroscience are relevant. The suggested conceptual model of empathy appropriate for the policing profession incorporates the typically antagonistic nature of police?citizen contacts, personal traits as expressed in interpersonal relations, and the social and cultural context. Because of the diversity and multicultural nature of modern societies, the values guiding police?citizen encounters are given special attention and related to the empathy research tradition. The proposed conceptual model of empathy aims at guiding future research in police?citizen interaction and, ultimately, supporting police practices regarding recruitment, career advancement and fieldwork.

Keyword
empathy, police, policing, recruitment criteria, perspective taking, interdisciplinary approaches, police research, social psychology, social cognitive neuroscience
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-111039 (URN)10.1080/14043858.2014.987518 (DOI)
Available from: 2015-11-02 Created: 2015-11-02 Last updated: 2017-12-01Bibliographically approved
4. Adaptation and development of the Empathy Assessment Index (EAI)
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Adaptation and development of the Empathy Assessment Index (EAI)
2015 (English)In: International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, ISSN 0192-4036, E-ISSN 2157-6475, Vol. 39, no 3, 239-255 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this study was to adapt and develop a multidimensional measure of interpersonal empathy, the Empathy Assessment Index (EAI). The EAI is a self-report measure developed in the US that is applicable in most contexts where empathy is considered a relevant construct. The focus of this work is on professions dealing with complex interpersonal situations, such as the police or other professions that can be categorized as street-level bureaucrats. The added value of the EAI relative to previous measures of interpersonal empathy stems from its incorporation of subconstructs such as self-other awareness (SOA) and emotion regulation (ER) to augment the cognitive dimension of empathy. The Swedish version of the EAI was administered to a sample of 330 participants, most of whom were police recruits. An exploratory factor analysis identified a four-factor structure, which was supported by a confirmatory factor analysis. The factors identified in the analysis were affective response, SOA, perspective taking (PT), and ER. Evidence for the scale?s concurrent validity was established in relation to the empathic concern and PT subscales from the Interpersonal Reactivity Index. The adapted version of the EAI will be used in further studies within the police context.

Keyword
empathy, police profession, street-level bureaucrats, adaptation, measurement, validity
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-111040 (URN)10.1080/01924036.2014.989245 (DOI)
Available from: 2015-11-02 Created: 2015-11-02 Last updated: 2017-12-01Bibliographically approved

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