Date of Conferral







James S. Herndon


The study of stress on police task performance is important as this relationship can positively or negatively impact encounters with the public. This study focused on protective factors of positive psychology within the measured construct of dispositional optimism as a possible mediator of stress effects on physical task performance. The cognitive processing models used were the performance efficiency theory and attentional control theory as they apply in perceptual motor skill. Using a mediation model, the research question asked whether dispositional optimism mediated the relationship between stress and a pistol performance accuracy task. This study used a limited data set collected by a law enforcement training center (N = 80). The survey instruments used to measure stress and dispositional optimism were the Perceived Stress Scale and the Life Orientation Test - Revised, respectively. Correlation and multiple regression were used to analyze the significance of the mediation model. Ultimately, the results were unable to detect significance between dispositional optimism (p > .05) and stress (p > .05) on pistol accuracy outcomes. However, a significant relationship was found between dispositional optimism and stress (p < .05). Future research recommendations include an intervention protocol with several levels of pistol shooting difficulty and biological stress measurements. Implications for social change include further understanding of how to better manage stress for increased accuracy in pistol performance tasks along with increased mental processing and increased positive outcomes. Overall, better education and training for the officer will contribute to more positive encounters with the public.