Date of Graduation

Summer 2020


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

William Deal


Law enforcement officers will encounter many stressors in their careers. These stressors originate from a variety of sources and prolonged exposure can result in many negative outcomes, including burnout. This is especially concerning, as burnout can result in poorer work performance and more negative interactions with those whom these individuals serve. While burnout should be a significant source of concern, there is relatively little research on different factors that may contribute to burnout. In 1980, Cherniss proposed four career orientations: Self-investors, Social Activists, Careerists, and Artisans. Research has supported that different orientations experience different outcomes and levels of burnout. Another area that has received limited research is the impact of one’s initial expectations of the career and how those react with the realities of working in law enforcement. Although underpowered due to small sample size (N=49), results indicated significant differences in burnout scores for different career orientations, as well as between anticipated and current stress levels. However, no significant differences in levels of burnout were found for expectations. Results of interactions between law enforcement and the public can have lasting effects on communities and it is especially timely now to explore factors relating to burnout. There have been many widely publicized incidents that have resulted in a trial by public opinion of law enforcement agencies and it suggests that changes in training policies or how agencies approach law enforcement may be necessary. Looking at different factors that influence burnout could inform policymakers on how to best implement such changes.


law enforcement, career orientation, expectations, burnout, stress, policing

Subject Categories

Social Psychology


© Kelsey A. Keady

Open Access