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Motivations for a career in policing: social group differences and occupational satisfaction

NCJ Number
Police Practice and Research Volume: 22 Issue: 5 Dated: 2021 Pages: 1507-1523
Date Published
17 pages

This study aimed to evaluate the dimensionality of motivations to become a police officer; assess sex, race, and ethnicity differences in motives; and analyze the relationship between motivations, job satisfaction, and career outlook.



Using a sample of police recruits (N = 1009) drawn from the United States, the analyses revealed three basic dimensions: (1) economic opportunities and stability; (2) working conditions, including excitement and prestige; and (3) humanitarian reasons, such as working with people. The results suggest that focusing on humanitarian motivations should directly result in the recruitment of more female, Black, and Latinx candidates and indirectly result in higher job satisfaction and more positive career attitudes. Furthermore, the results indicate that using messages that convey economic opportunities and job stability for recruitment efforts should also result in more female, Black, and Latinx candidates; however, this strategy will not have the positive indirect effect of increased satisfaction or career outlook. (Publisher Abstract Provided)


Date Published: January 1, 2021