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The Validity of the California Psychological Inventory in the Prediction of Police Officer Applicants Suitability for Employment

25 July 2008


This study explores the relationship between the California Psychological Inventory Suitability Risk Levels (Roberts and Johnson, 2001) and police applicant suitability as determined by background investigators during the preemployment selection process. The CPI Suitability Risk Levels are numerical probabilities indicating the likelihood that an individual will be rated “poorly suited” by expert screening psychologists, terminated after being hired, or found to have engaged in a variety of problem behaviors (e.g., integrity violations, illegal drug use, criminal behavior, poor work history, etc.). Suitability determinations were made based on ten non-medical objective dimensions related to the essential job functions of law enforcement officer. The results indicate that two of the eight CPI Risk Levels, Probability of involuntary departure and Poorly suited, were moderately related to background investigators’ suitability determinations. Further, the CPI risk estimate Probability of involuntary departure was the best predictor of police applicant suitability determination. However, the prediction model failed to reach statistical significance. Nevertheless, classification analyses revealed that the CPI risk estimates did a good job in correctly predicting suitability judgments on the basis of background investigations. The CPI risk estimates correctly classified 74 percent of cases. All other CPI risk estimates were weakly related to, and adequate to poor predictors of, background investigation suitability determinations. Discussion of the practical application and economic utility of the CPI in screening police applicants has relevance outside of this data sample, as all police agencies struggle with selection issues. This project supports the use of personality measures in selecting suitable police applicants.


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