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Using personality traits to predict police officer performance

Beth A. Sanders (Thomas More College, Sociology and Criminal Justice, Crestview Hills, Kentucky, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 7 March 2008




The purpose of this study is to evaluate the usefulness of personality traits, namely the Big Five, as a means of selection in good police officers.


The current study examines a sample of 96 police officers from eight non‐urban police departments.


Age and attitude were found to be better predictors of job performance measures than were personality traits. A cynical work attitude was negatively related to ratings of job performance. Officer age was found to have a non‐linear relationship to job performance.

Research limitations/implications

Difficulties in measuring police performance are discussed, as is the relative importance of individual officer personality versus organizational culture.


The study extends the research on police officer selection and issues of job performance and measurement.



Sanders, B.A. (2008), "Using personality traits to predict police officer performance", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 129-147.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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