Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

William Buhrow, PsyD

Second Advisor

Kathleen Gathercoal, PhD

Third Advisor

Marie-Christine Goodworth, PhD


Current law enforcement agencies are facing increasing pressure to hire more female and minority applicants. In addition to this, many agencies may be struggling to hire sufficient numbers of qualified candidates in general. This has created a need for understanding the individual factors that may motivate specific types of individuals towards a career in law enforcement. The current study assesses these motivations in a sample of currently employed law enforcement officers, current students enrolled in criminal justice programs, and undergraduate students unaffiliated with a law enforcement career. These motivations are then examined by demographic categories to explore the correlation between demographic categories and specific motivations towards or against a career in law enforcement. Results found that all groups generally selected the same top motivations with a few minor differences. The primary barriers to the career were risk of death or injury, and long hours. Most groups agreed on the efficacy of specific incentives indicating higher starting salary, signing bonus, and financial assistance to purchase a house would be the most effective incentives. Limitations and recommendations for future research are presented.