Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 3 Issue 2 (June 1993), Pages fmi-fmi, 87-172

Changes in self‐concept during occupational socialization of new recruits to the police (pages 131-147)


In a cross‐sectional study five groups of male recruits (n = 369; ages 21 to 36) to a large English provincial police force were tested: one group at entry, three groups at different stages of their 2‐year probationary period (one at one‐quarter, one at one‐half and one at three‐quarters of the way through) and one immediately after the probationary period. Significant group effects were found on all 27 items of a set of self‐concept statements, suggesting effects of entry‐level occupational socialization on recruits' self‐image. Changes from group to group during the course of training were examined using discriminant function analysis. Factor analysis yielded four clusters of items: isolation/vulnerability, tension/apprehension, self‐worth and commitment/empathy; scores on all four fluctuated during training. Isolation and apprehension rose from a low base during training, and self‐worth fell from a high base, but entry levels were recovered by completion of training, giving support for a weak version of the U‐curve hypothesis of adaptation. However, high levels of commitment and empathy at entry were significantly depressed on completion of training. In addition, older trainees reported lower self‐worth and higher apprehension. Results are interpreted in terms of adaptation during occupational socialization towards a more instrumental and cynical operational style.

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