Have a Question?
Ask the Graduate
College at our new
Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Carl J. Lafata
Doctor of Philosophy
Title: The Effects of Post-Secondary Education on State Troopers’ Job Performance, Stress Levels, and Authoritarian Attitudes
Dr. Ronald Kramer, Chair
Dr. Barry Goetz
Dr. David Hartmann
Dr. Alan Isaak
Date: Monday, February 12, 2007 9:30 a.m.- 11:30 a.m.
Kercher Center for Social Research, Sangren Hall
Abstract: This study was designed to determine the effects of post-secondary education on police officers’ job performance, stress levels, and levels of authoritarianism as measured by Altemeyer’s (1996) Right-Wing Authoritarianism Scale questionnaire. It involved the analysis of data voluntarily and anonymously submitted via an internet-based survey by 356 of the Michigan State Police’s approximately 1,800 enlisted members (those members who are state-certified police officers), along with information collected from informal personal interviews held with a select group of seven of the department’s senior leaders. Subsequent analysis of the collected quantitative data revealed no statistical support for the project’s first two hypotheses, that higher levels of education improved job performance and reduced stress levels. In fact, there was statistically significant evidence that higher levels of education actually increased job-related stress levels. Statistical support for the third hypothesis, that higher levels of education decreased levels of authoritarianism, was found at the .05 level.
The lack of statistical support for the project’s first two hypotheses was likely the result of having to obtain a convenience sample of enlisted members rather than a random sample, as well as the general operational limitations associated with obtaining personal information from and about government employees. However, this study confirmed previous findings on education’s effect on authoritarian (over) personalities and showed that those who participated in the survey are on average about equal to other populations in their levels of authoritarianism. This project also showed that nearly all of the survey respondents and every department leader interviewed support higher educational standards for all ranks and believe that police officers would benefit from such standards both personally and professionally. Therefore, this study’s findings may not only serve as the basis for future department policy decisions regarding hiring and promotional requirements, it may also serve as the foundation of subsequent studies regarding post-secondary education’s effect on police officers in Michigan and the rest of the nation.