skip navigation

PUBLICATIONS

Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.

 

NCJ Number: 181019 Find in a Library
Title: Sociopathic Police Personality: Is It a Product of the "Rotten Apple" or the "Rotten Barrel?"
Journal: Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology  Volume:14  Issue:1  Dated:Spring 1999  Pages:28-37
Author(s): Catherine Griffin; Jim Ruiz
Date Published: 1999
Page Count: 10
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper provides support for the "Rotten Barrel" theory of police deviant behavior, which holds that the stressful conditions of the police occupation constitute a primary risk factor for police misconduct.
Abstract: In contrast to the "Rotten Barrel" theory, the traditional "Rotten Apple" theory has argued that deviant police officers brought their undesirable traits into the policing profession when they were hired; under this theory, the solution to police misconduct is to improve the psychological screening of police officers so that the "rotten apples" are excluded from the "barrel." This article focuses on the sociopathic, or antisocial, personality manifest in many police officers. Attention is given to environmental stresses that increase the likelihood of criminal behavior within police departments and the influence of the police subculture on new recruits. There are two types of sociopaths, primary and secondary. Primary sociopaths are predisposed to antisocial behavior through their genotype. Secondary sociopaths are those who become antisocial because of environmental factors. External factors such as police subcultural norms, peer influence, and economic factors may lead some officers to believe that antisocial or deviant behavior is the most appropriate and most beneficial approach to their role as a police officer. The environment in which police officers work offers unlimited opportunities for corruption and deceit, and these environmental factors may lead to sociopathic behavior. Early intervention is crucial for officers who show signs of stress, anxiety, depression, or any other negative behavior. Periodic, ongoing psychological testing of officers, stress management training, and the existence of alternative intervention measures can assist in preventing the stresses of policing from leading to serious police misconduct. 28 references
Main Term(s): Police misconduct
Index Term(s): Behavior under stress; Police occupational stress; Police personnel selection; Police subculture; Sociopaths
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=181019

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.