Universal police behaviours during critical incidents and their connection to personality: A preliminary study

Juha-Matti Huhta, Paula M. Di Nota, Markku Nyman, Eero Pietilä, Eero Ropo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


There is currently no universal standard for training or evaluating operational police performance during critical incident simulations. Accordingly, performance is typically judged on final outcomes (i.e., shoot/no-shoot decision-making) rather than a more detailed set of essential policing skills in both research and practical settings. The current study identifies six behavioural dimensions developed by expert use of force instructors: control of the environment, operational flexibility, initiative, critical decision-making, withdrawal, and target oriented behaviour. To explore the possible relationship between inherent personality characteristics and primitive (i.e., untrained) police performance, 45 police recruits were assessed during stressful fieldwork simulations. Preliminary findings suggest several possible relationships; scores for control of the environment and operational flexibility were lower in more extraverted and flexible types. Initiative was also lower in more flexible types, and critical decision-making errors were related to higher extraversion. Withdrawal behaviour was greater among more emotional types, and target oriented behaviour was higher in more extraverted participants. The behavioural dimensions developed in this study can be practically applied to standardize, tailor, and improve current training practices for essential policing skills. Understanding their possible connection to universal personality traits can identify inherent strengths and vulnerabilities that may need more attention and deliberate practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalNordic Journal of Studies in Policing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • police training
  • police

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Psychology(all)


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