Date of Conferral

2015

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Human Services

Advisor

Barbara Benoliel

Abstract

Police officers experience stress from operational and organizational demands which are extrinsic in nature. Officers may also experience stress from not being able to attain their personal goals for becoming a police officer, which is referred to as goal negation. The purpose of this mixed model, exploratory study was to examine if stress from goal negation is an intrinsic moderating factor of police officers' overall experience of career-related stress that may be adding to the health risks of the profession. The framework for the study included the concept of goal negation and the theory of operational and organizational or intrinsic and extrinsic stressors. The study was conducted in a Southern state with a sample of 52 acting police officers with 1 to 6 years of field experience. Two online survey questionnaires were modified from McCreary and Thompson's PSQ-Org and PSQ-Op and used to measure organizational and operational stressors. In-depth interviews added to the exploration of the lived experiences of officers in assessing their personal goal attainment. Results from the exploratory multivariate factor analysis of variance (MANOVA) of operational and organizational survey scores indicated that goal negation played a significant role in moderating stress for police officers in their duties.

In addition, the content analysis of the interviews revealed a theme of conflict between police officers' personal goals and the operational role of police in the public context today. The results of this study will contribute to social change by informing police agencies, police training centers, and mental health treatment facilities of possible job sources of stress for new hires and career-oriented police personnel.