Acceptable vs. marginal police officers' psychological ratings : a longitudinal comparison of job performance

Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Adult Education and Human Resource Development

First Advisor's Name

Douglas H. Smith

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Lorraine R. Gay

Third Advisor's Name

Jo D. Gallaghe

Fourth Advisor's Name

Herman W. Dorsett

Date of Defense



Archival research was conducted on the inception of preemployment psychological testing, as part of the background screening process, to select police officers for a local police department. Various issues and incidents were analyzed to help explain why this police department progressed from an abbreviated version of a psychological battery, to a much more sophisticated and comprehensive set of instruments. While doubts about psychological exams do exist, research has shown that many are valid and reliable in predicting job performance of police candidates. During a three year period, a police department hired 162 candidates (133 males and 29 females) who received "acceptable" psychological ratings and 71 candidates (58 males and 13 females) who received "marginal" psychological ratings. A document analysis consisted of variables that have been identified as job performance indicators which police psychological testing tries to predict, and "screen in" or "screen out" appropriate applicants. The areas of focus comprised the 6-month police academy, the 4-month Field Training Officer (FTO) Program, the remaining probationary period, and yearly performance up to five years of employment. Specific job performance variables were the final academy grade average, supervisors' evaluation ratings, reprimands, commendations, awards, citizen complaints, time losses, sick time usage, reassignments, promotions, and separations. A causal-comparative research design was used to determine if there were significant statistical differences in these job performance variables between police officers with "acceptable" psychological ratings and police officers with "marginal" psychological ratings. The results of multivariate analyses of variance, t-tests, and chi-square procedures as applicable, showed no significant differences between the two groups on any of the job performance variables.



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