Personality traits of the Five-Factor Model are associated with work-related stress in special force police officers

  • S. Garbarino
  • C. Chiorri
  • N. MagnavitaEmail author
Original Article



The police work is particularly stressful. The aim of this work was to clarify whether the personality factors are associated with perceived stress levels or reactivity to environmental stressors in a special body of police.


The police officers in charge of guaranteeing public order at the L’Aquila G8 meeting were subjected to a control of their levels of work-related stress in anticipation of the event. Personality was assessed by the Italian version of the Five-Factor Model questionnaire, while stress was measured three times (during routine work in January 2009, preparation and imminence of the event, in April and July 2009, respectively) with the demand/control/support model of Karasek and the effort/reward imbalance model of Siegrist. A total of 289 of 294 officers took part in the survey.


Some personality traits of the Five-Factor Model were associated with stress levels and stress reactivity. Neuroticism (low emotional stability) showed the strongest associations with job strain (demand/control ratio) (β = 0.115, p < 0.05) and effort/reward imbalance (β = 0.270, p < 0.001) and was associated with most of the stress variables. High agreeableness was associated with low effort/reward imbalance (β = −0.157, p < 0.01).


Personality factors may mitigate or increase the strain induced by environmental stressors.


Big Five personality factors Work-related stress Demand Control Job strain Effort/reward imbalance 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Occupational MedicineUniversità Cattolica del Sacro CuoreRomeItaly
  2. 2.Psychology Unit, Department of Educational SciencesUniversity of GenoaGenoaItaly
  3. 3.State Police Health Service DepartmentMinistry of the InteriorRomeItaly
  4. 4.Department of Neuroscience, Ophthalmology and GeneticsUniversity of GenoaGenoaItaly

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