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

Purpose: 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.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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).
Conclusions: Personality factors may mitigate or increase the strain induced by environmental stressors.
Keywords: Big Five personality factors Work-related stress Demand Control Job strain Effort/reward imbalance