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Foundations of Psychology - PSY111
(a) Describe an issue / problem in the workplace associated with your occupation or intended occupation. How might that problem be addressed by each of the three types of I/O psychologist?
There are numerous workplace issues that affect the Australian police force and those employed within. The following essay will examine the veiled problem of corruption in the police force. To understand the nature of corruption in the police workplace we must first understand the definition of corruption and its ramifications. Furthermore, the paper will subsequently outline industrial/organisation psychology approaches that will address this widespread issue.
The problem of corruption in the police force is a major issue. Corruption has been and still is one of the negative stigmas attached to policing. However there is no standard definition of corruption even at law. The Criminal Code defines certain offences including official corruption however the term has a wider meaning. 'It can be defined as any behaviour by which one person intends to gain a dishonest advantage over another' (Hailstone 1992). The issue of corruption is by no means a new phenomenon in policing and has been around just as long as policing. Corruption within the police force can arise in many forms. Forms of corrupt activity could include; process corruption, such as perjury, planting of evidence, verbals (fabricating confessions), assaults and pressure to induce confessions, gilding the evidence, tampering with electronic interception, and 'taxing' criminals; gratuities and improper associations; fraudulent practices; drug abuse; assaults and abuse of police powers; theft and extortion; protection of drug trade; vice operators and gaming and betting interests; drug trafficking; and interference with internal investigations. This shows the diverse nature of corruption with its many forms within policing and conveys the need for preventative measures to stop this culture in policing. This problem can be assessed by the three types of industrial/organisational psychology with each taking a different approach to solving the issue of corruption.
Personnel psychology was the first of the three industrial/organisational sub fields to appear and was a result of psychologies emerging interest in measuring and recording individual differences. Personnel psychologists would take preventive measures to negate corruption. Such tests as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) could be issued to select potential police officers. The MMPI is a self-report personality inventory consisting of 550 items that describe feelings or actions, which the person is asked to agree with or disagree with. From this traits and qualities of a person is determined. This would allow personnel psychologists to examine applicants to the police force and then determine if those traits or qualities are linked to deviant behaviour resulting in corruption. However this method does present a few problems. The MMPI is not entirely accurate and could rule out a potentially good candidate or let through a potentially bad candidate because of a response to the MMPI. Another personality test that could be employed as preventative method is the Inwald Personality Inventory (IPI). 'The IPI is a 310 item true-false questionnaire that was developed specifically for use by law enforcement agencies in selecting new officers' (Cortina et al. 1992). From the IPI a potential officer's personality and the likelihood of them being corrupt can be assessed. This method of solving the issue of corruption would not be completely effective as people could lie on the IPI or events later on in their life change their personality reflected in the IPI. Training for police officers is also another area where a personnel psychologist could target to prevent the issue of corruption. By integrating ethics and what corruption is into the training of police an organisational psychologist could display the consequences of displaying corrupt behaviour and therefore deter future occurrences of corruption.
Organisational psychology takes the view that in order for employees to perform well a certain level of job satisfaction and positive attitude to employers are needed. The organisational psychologist would deal with the issue of corruption in much the same way. Emphasis would be placed on the workplace being not just safe but enjoyable for police officers. This could be achieved through 'strengthening the psychological contract between employers and new recruits thereby improving retention and providing realistic culture previews to ensure the right people are attracted to the organisation' (Farrell, C 2003). By employing this method as a preventative strategy a greater number of people less susceptible to corruption practices will be drawn to the police force therefore reducing the amount of corruption in the police force. This relation comes under one of the two focus areas for organisational psychologists, job satisfaction. If officers are satisfied with their job then theoretically they will be less likely to participate in corrupt practices. The other focus area of organisational psychologists is work motivation. Very simplistically this proposes that employees will put in according to what they get out of it. Here corruption results from officers believing they are not getting what they deserve out of their job and will therefore resort to corrupt practices such as fraud. An organisational