Book review of “Personality Assessment in Police Psychology.”
I have to admit, I had no intention of reading this book in one sitting, in fact, I was only really going to read about half of the essays in this collection of essays. I have to admit I was invited to write a chapter in this book but really couldn’t write on the topic assigned. And may I tell you, I also need to admit I have known this editor since he was a grad student and I even know personally he is a very good golfer besides editing a book, so I am sort of attached to this young man. I do not have to admit that the topic was not remotely interesting to me when I heard of the book originally, but I became completely engaged in it after reading only the first essay, and in fact, ended up reading the whole damn thing. This book is definitely something to keep around awhile.
When you start reading Personality Assessment in Police Psychology: A 21st Century Perspective (Charles C Thomas Pub Ltd June 14, 2010, Peter A. Weiss, Editor), you are hit in the face with a history of the personality testing in law enforcement written by Peter Weiss, the editor, and Robin Inwald. Gee, I think I’ve heard her name before. The history section held a lot of surprises for me. Some of the names of the early pioneers like Joe Fabricatore and Jim Shaw were people I met originally when I came to join the organizations in the field, and people that accepted me with open arms. I didn’t realize they were so impactful and important in building the profession. The history of the Society for Police and Criminal Psychology, the APA Division 18 and the IACP Police Psych Services Section all had one or two things that I didn’t know about. But the real history that surprised me was the history of personality testing for Law Enforcement populations. Some of this history was downright enlightening, and the presentation was very good, and more than that, it was written in a style that made sense on the first read through which is often difficult when writing history. That is worth the price of admission, but there is so much more here.
In the articles, you hear various professionals in our field give their view of certain tests, or processes, and at the end, some unusual situations where personality testing was important in police psychology. For example, John (Jack) Jones wrote a brilliant piece on integrity testing in pre-offer that was a combination of history, education and a how-to article. It was well-written for the consumer and gave practical advice. It promoted a bifurcated model of testing with testing for issues like integrity and conscientiousness pre-offer, and testing for pathology post-conditional offer. It was excellent and got me thinking about specifics of the whole pre-offer-post offer paradigm that is out-front since the ADA laws.
Then there was Mike Aamodt’s article on the meta-analysis of the various types of testing for Law Enforcement candidates. Now I will preface this by saying Mike Aamodt is one of the best presenters I have ever seen in police psychology, and his research makes some of the most sense of anyone I have ever read in all police psychology. He has a way about him that makes the most intricate principles simple, the most esoteric ideas commonplace, and the most convoluted concepts sequential. He starts off his article by saying we are not predicting whether a person is good on the job, we are predicting supervisors ratings when the person is on the job – right to the root of what is going on. Then he goes on to show evidence that psychologists are not good at connecting pathology predictions from a test to supervisors’ ratings of job performance. Further stating that even with predictors of normal personality, only a few scales have significant level of predictive significance, for example the tolerance scale on the CPI is a good predictor of supervisor ratings. Mike Aamodt is a brilliant man and his inclusion in this wonderful collection of essays was very important.
There are other essays by authors like Eric Ostrov on using multiple sources of information, JoAnne Brewster, Philip Wickline and Mike Stoloff on the use of the Rorschach in personality testing with Law Enforcement screenings, Cary Rostov and Bob Davis on the M-Pulse, Gerald Serafino on fundamental issues, and of course Peter Weiss’ own father, the ex-editor of the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, William Weiss.
Faults with the book? Damn, I can’t think of many. The essays cover the topic well, they are interesting, there is some new stuff here, and where needed they are well researched. If there is s a fault, I would suggest the history article has some bias toward telling history with a little angle, but this is not a big thing. This is a good book with a lot of good information.
So, try to get a copy of Personality Assessment in Police Psychology: A 21st Century Perspective. You will find it worth your time and no matter what level you are at you will learn a lot. It is a wonderful reference to add to your library.
If you enjoyed this book review, sign up to receive updates for more posts on the latest in police psychology and stress management.
Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D. ABPP
For books by Dr. Gary S. Aumiller got to www.myherodad.com or www.myheromom.com
Join me on facebook or linkedin (see sidebar)