Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Edelyn Verona, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Bryanna Fox, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Diana Rancourt, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jack Darkes, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Brenton Wiernik, Ph.D.


performance, police, profile, psychopathy, triarchic


Law enforcement is an occupation that is typically characterized by high stress, physical danger, and potential for use of excessive force to subdue suspects of criminal activity. Compared to other jobs, the law enforcement profession is considered a high-stakes occupation that has the potential to greatly impact public safety, and officers must face daily dangers not experienced in other professions. While much research has focused on traditional models of personality and police performance (i.e., Big Five traits; Schneider, 2002; Twersky-Glasner, 2005), there may be utility in examining police officer performance through the lens of the triarchic psychopathy domains (Patrick, Fowles, & Krueger, 2009) due to the research that suggests many law enforcement officers exhibit varying degrees of these traits (Bakker & Heuven, 2006; Newman & Rucker-Reed, 2004; Pogarsky & Piquero, 2004). The current study employed criterion profile analytic approaches to elucidate optimal profile configurations in both law enforcement and undergraduate samples in relation to justification of use of force scenarios and decision-making in high-pressure situations (i.e., police officer dilemma shooter task). Results indicated that elevations in psychopathic traits and certain patterns of traits accounted for similar variance in performance criteria, with trait elevation in Meanness being most associated with ratings of unjustified use of force vignettes and Disinhibition with commission errors on the shooter task (although effect sizes were small for the latter). The findings of this study support the conceptual validity of the triarchic psychopathy model (Patrick et al., 2009) and substantiate moderate utility of personality indicators in relation to problematic career performance in law enforcement (e.g., antagonism, difficulties with impulse control).