Use of a Pre-Employment Multitasking Instrument and Neuropsychological Measures to Predict Field Performance in Police Officers
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The role of the police officer has evolved drastically since the inception of pre-employment psychological evaluations in the 1960s and increasingly relies on adequate multitasking ability to keep up with the demands of the job. However, though necessary, multitasking is not directly assessed. Conversely, some agencies make use of a multitasking test (CritiCall) to evaluate prospective 911 operators during the application process. Thus, the goals of this study were to evaluate the utility of standard neuropsychological tests and CritiCall in predicting police officer success and to evaluate the relationship between the multitasking instrument and neuropsychological measures. North Texas police officers were administered the NIH Toolbox Cognition and Emotion Batteries along with several traditional neuropsychological measures of attention, working memory, and mental flexibility, and a subset completed the CritiCall test. Each officers' direct supervisor completed a standard Supervisor Survey which served as the primary outcome measure. Spearman correlations were used to compare performance on CritiCall to the NIH Toolbox Cognition Battery and standard neuropsychological test scores, and all scores were tested for predictive ability in relation to the Supervisor Survey via stepwise linear regression. Aspects of the multitasking instrument were associated with performance on measures of processing speed, attention, working memory, mental flexibility, and crystallized cognitive abilities. No subtests or composite scores from the NIH Toolbox Cognition Battery were predictive of the Supervisor Survey, whereas several subtests from the NIH Toolbox Emotion Battery were significant predictors. Standard neuropsychological tests combined with subtests from the Emotion Battery were found to be some of the strongest predictors, specifically the combination of a measure of perceived stress and working memory. Primary results provide evidence for a relationship between neuropsychological factors and police field performance ratings. Continued research is needed to further evaluate and validate the Supervisor Survey and to confirm these findings in additional settings.