The purpose of this paper is to investigate the predispositional hypothesis related to the “rescue personality” and the mental health of firefighter recruits.
This study compared responses to a written set of personality and mental health measures between firefighter recruits and non-rescue comparison participants – individually matched based on age, gender, ethnicity, and marital status. Data analysis involved statistical one-way between subjects analyses of variance complemented with epidemiological paired odds ratio calculations.
The results indicated that firefighter recruits self-reported as less open to experience, less neurotic, and less Type A. They also self-reported as less likely to report somatization, hostility, and posttraumatic stress symptomatology than comparison participants. Recruits were higher in extraversion and conscientiousness, but indicated no differences in perceptions of risk or sensation-seeking behaviour.
The present study contributes to the literature on firefighter recruits and provides some initial data regarding personality of those attracted to the fire services, as well as information about the mental health of firefighters prior to service. Mitchell’s “rescue personality” was partly supported and evidence was provided suggesting that new recruits have strong self-perceived mental health.
Wagner, S., Fraess-Phillips, A. and Mikkelson, K. (2016), "Recruit firefighters: personality and mental health", International Journal of Emergency Services, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 199-211. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJES-08-2016-0015Download as .RIS
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