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A critical review of psychological instruments used in police officer selection

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journal contribution
posted on 2013-01-01, 00:00 authored by J Lough, Kathryn Von TreuerKathryn Von Treuer
Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the instruments used in the screening process, with particular attention given to supporting research validation. Psychological screening is a well-established process used in the selection of employees across public safety industries, particularly in police settings. Screening in and screening out are both possible, with screening out being the most commonly used method. Little attention, however, has been given to evaluating the comparative validities of the instruments used.

Design/methodology/approach
This review investigates literature supporting the use of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), the California Personality Inventory (CPI), the Inwald Personality Inventory (IPI), the Australian Institute of Forensic Psychology's test battery (AIFP), and some other less researched tests. Research supporting the validity of each test is discussed.

Findings
It was found that no test possesses unequivocal research support, although the CPI and AIFP tests show promise. Most formal research into the validity of the instruments lacks appropriate experimental structure and is therefore less powerful as “evidence” of the utility of the instrument(s).

Practical implications
This research raises the notion that many current screening practices are likely to be adding minimal value to the selection process by way of using instruments that are not “cut out” for the job. This has implications for policy and practice at the recruitment stage of police employment.

Originality/value
This research provides a critical overview of the instruments and their validity studies rather than examining the general process of psychological screening. As such, it is useful to those working in selection who are facing the choice of psychological instrument. Possibilities for future research are presented, and development opportunities for a best practice instrument are discussed.

History

Journal

Policing

Volume

36

Pagination

737 - 751

Location

Bingley, UK

Open access

  • Yes

ISSN

1363-951X

eISSN

1758-695X

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2013, Emerald Group Publishing

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