Personality types and resilience of crime scene investigators in KwaZulu-Natal, South African Police Service : a mixedmethod approach.
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The research aim of this study was to investigate “Personality types and Resilience of Crime Scene Investigators in the South African Police Service, Kwazulu-Natal: A Mixed Method Approach. South African Police Service (SAPS) has increasingly gained media attention, criticised by public for police brutality, poor service delivery, police suicides and poor work performance, reflecting a negative image. However, the work of police officer is considered to be one of the dangerous occupations. In particular, South African police officers face a nearly limitless range of stressors that can vary within one shift. Additionally, organisational stressors, pressure from the government and the public, the internal investigation units and calls for organisational change place immense stress and strain on police officers. Officials enduring high levels of stress continuously can culminate into trauma and burnout, leading to negative work effects: sick leave, reduced work efficiency and low self-esteem. Therefore, the police population has been considered psychologically at risk, with higher lifetime prevalence rates of mental health disorders such as PTSD and suicides than the general population. Studies indicate lack of social support is one of the strongest risk factors for PTSD and police suicides. However, as a polar opposite to those who suffer from burnout, research has also shown that some individuals, despite high job demands and long working hours, seem to find pleasure in working hard and dealing with job pressure. From a positive psychological perspective, such individuals are happy, resilient with good coping skills to deal with stress. Research studies reveal that trauma and stress experienced by police officers is in proportion of their job demands. The majority of police officers do not develop chronic PTSD as shown by the various studies. Regardless of exposure to potentially traumatic events, the majority of emergency services (policeman, paramedics, security, fire fighters, doctors, nurses) do not show signs of psychological distress. In fact, some studies report positive effects of emergency work. Research has shown that police personnel can be regarded as resilient, with only a small group showing mental health problems as a result of extreme situations. Resilient individuals are regarded as having attributes; such as personality predisposition, self-efficacy, family and social support. Research studies emphasise on negative police issues as stress, trauma and suicides. Studies pertaining to positive issues of policing are inadequate. Therefore, the researcher identified a gap and absence of positive studies, and therefore this study focus on the positive aspect of police officers and their policing environment. The undertaken research focuses on the study of personality types and resilience of police officers. The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Sense of Coherence (SOC) scales were administered to determine the personality types and ascertain their level of resilience by using the SOC measure. The study employed mixed methods approach, which was conducted in two stages: In the first stage MBTI and SOC were administered. Personality types and resilience were ascertained. The second stage engaged semi-structured interviews to find the presence of risk and protective factors, impacting the resilience level of the police officer. Statistical Package for the Social Programme (SPSS) and Thematic analysis was used for data analysis for phase one and two respectively. The quantitative results showed that in the SAPS the ESTJ personality type dominated followed by ISTJ members who more resilient than rest of the personality types. INFJ’s were found to be the least resilient type. The qualitative results validated the quantitative ones. ESTJ personality types are more prevalent in SAPS and were more resilient, with next highest resilient were the ISTJ’s. INFJ’s were low on resilience Risk and protective factors were identified; resilient police officers with the assistance of protective factors manage themselves well and were back at work. Positive attitude and emotions, family support, social support, job satisfaction, management support, being hopeful was some of the positive attributes identified aiding resilience. The study’s quantitative and qualitative findings supported mutually, merging very well thus triangulate the findings, and there were no significant contradictions in the two forms of data. Outcome of the research showed that police officers are resilient. Personality types are the basis of resilience; some types are more resilient and react to trauma well than other personality types. Protective and risk factors contributed to resilience.