Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Comments

Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Criminal Justice in the Graduate College of Bridgewater State University, 2017.

Degree Program

Criminal Justice

Degree Type

Master of Science


This mixed method study focused on stress and its influence on police officers’ use of force. As a theoretical frame, Agnew’s General Strain Theory (GST) was applied to measure police officers’ decision making process in use of force, and the evaluation was compared to the college population. Data derived from law enforcement officers and college students via survey questionnaires reflecting strain factors and the Use of Force Model of case-vignettes. The magnitude of strain is measured via the assessment three major psychological diagnostic criteria: 1) STAI (State Trait Anxiety Inventory, 2) PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), and 3) DI (Depression Inventory). In comparison with the student population, law enforcement personnel responses to use of force vignettes were relatively consistent and responded with a lower level of force when paralleled with the Use of Force Model. The qualitative assessment were consistent with quantitative results emphasizing practical police training and education, which would minimize use of force issues. This study served its purpose as it reaffirms law enforcement as a stressful occupation, offers a direction to future research and proposes policy implications.


Kyung-shick Choi (chair)

Mitchell Librett

Michael King

Included in

Criminology Commons