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Police Stress Process

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1983
6 pages
An analysis of three elements of the police stress process -- occupational stressors, individual stress, and coping strategies -- found strong positive relationships between depersonalization and stress as well as between stressors and cynicism and deviance.
Two occupational demands, depersonalization and authoritarianism, have been associated with increased police stress. Two coping strategies believed to be salient in police work are cynicism and deviance. Data for this study were drawn from questionnaires completed by 500 officers in 21 different city and local police departments. Depersonalization was measured by an 11-item scale based on police role participation, individual stress by the Langner 22-item index, and coping responses by items taken for Niederhoffer's scale on cynicism and a 4-item deviance scale based on police experience. The results indicated that depersonalization, the objectification of emotions, significantly increased stress in police officers. Adopting an authoritarian style had a positive but not statistically significant effect on stress. Cynicism had a strong positive relationship with stressors, particularly depersonalization, indicating that this attitude increases when officers face increased demands for depersonalization or authoritarianism. Deviance also increased as a response to stressors, but not as much as cynicism. Although cynicism and deviance are coping responses to stress, additional analyses suggest that they add rather then lessen stress in police officers. Tables, charts, and 25 references are included.

Date Published: January 1, 1983