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Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Graduate Psychology


JoAnne Brewster

Michael Stoloff

Bryan Saville


Although incidents of excessive force by police are very rare, they have a significant impact. Instances of excessive force can lead to expensive law suits, wasted resources spent on training and equipping officers, as well as a breakdown of trust between citizens and police departments. Psychologists can help to reduce inappropriate aggressive behavior through careful screening of police officer candidates. Most research has focused on the efficacy of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2) in predicting police performance; however, results have been inconclusive regarding its ability to predict police aggression. The purpose of this study was to identify whether the IAT Reasoning Test (IAT), a measure of trait aggression, and a Monetary Delay Discounting Task (MDDT), a measure of behavioral control, could predict on-the-job police aggression better than the MMPI-2. Researchers administered the MMPI-2, the IAT, and the MDDT, to 85 police officers. Three prediction models were created using scores on the IAT and the MDDT, and scales from the MMPI-2. Model 1 included the IAT, the MDDT, and the interaction (IATxMDDT). Model 2 included MMPI-2 scales Hostility (HO), Overcontrolled Hostility (O-H) and Anger (ANG). Model 3 included MMPI-2 scales Frequency (F), Hysteria (HY), and Psychopathic Deviate (PD). Researchers found Model 1 to be the best predictor of on-the-job aggression. However, the MDDT contributed the most to this model. Based on these findings, behavioral control may be an important trait to measure in order to identify potentially aggressive police officers. If future research replicates these findings, researchers may be able to suggest cut-offs that police departments can use for selection purposes.

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