Frame-of-Reference Effects on Police Officer Applicant Responses to the Revised NEO Personality Inventory

  • Paul DetrickEmail author
  • John T. Chibnall


Prior investigations of the frame-of-reference effect have compared personality inventory responses using contextualized (e.g., at work) versus standard non-contextualized frames-of-reference primarily under low-demand or simulated high-demand conditions. Results generally suggest that a context relevant instructional set may increase reliability and validity. These findings have not been studied using actual applicants under high-demand conditions such as personnel selection. In the present study, actual police officer applicants completed the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R) using either an “at work” or a standard (no context) frame-of-reference under both high- and low-demand conditions. Results indicated significant demand effects on 3/5 NEO PI-R domain scores and 25/30 facet scores. Frame-of-reference, on the other hand, yielded no significant main effects. An “at work” frame-of-reference, relative to a standard context, had no influence on police officer applicant NEO PI-R responses, irrespective of demand. Context effects on job applicant responses may not be of concern regarding reliability or validity of responding under high-demand conditions such as personnel selection.


Frame-of-reference effects Positive response bias Demand effects Police officer selection Revised NEO Personality Inventory 



Paul Detrick serves as psychological consultant to numerous law enforcement agencies in the St. Louis, Missouri, area. John T. Chibnall is a research psychologist and professor of psychiatry at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.


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Copyright information

© Society for Police and Criminal Psychology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florissant Psychological ServicesFlorissantUSA
  2. 2.Saint Louis University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA

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