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Personality And Gender As Predictors Of Coping Behaviour Of Suspects In Police Custody In Imo State




The study investigated personality and gender as predictors of coping behavior among suspects in the police custody in Imo State. Two hundred participants were selected through a convenient sampling technique. The participants were between ages 22 to 46 with a mean age of 34.22. Six hypotheses were postulated and tested. Two instruments were used in the study; Brief COPE Inventory and Big Five Personality Inventory (BFI). A cross sectional survey design was adopted; One Way ANOVA and multiple regressions were used in analyzing the data. Results showed that of all the five dimensions of the Big Five only conscientiousness had influence on coping behavior among suspects in the police custody. Result also revealed that gender had no significant influence on coping behavior among suspects in the police custody. Suspects in the police suffer due to the condition of the Nigerian police cell, some suspects contact deadly diseases before the end of their stay in the police cell, however, the government should try and improve the structure of the police cells. All suspects in the police custody are not taken care of, they are not well fed and as such, most of them are suffering from malnutrition. From the findings, the study recommended that; the abovementioned issues should be looked into, taking cognizance of the fact that they are Nigerian citizens. Nigerian Police officers on their own part should try to use humanistic approach in dealing with suspects knowing that they are humans, and Nigerian citizens.





Background to the Study

The psychology of personality is a very broad topic, to which people have taken diverse theoretical approaches (Adams & Olson 2010) personality is easy to observe but hard to pin down. According to Allport (1961), personality is the dynamic organization within the person of the psychological and physical systems that underlie that person’s pattern of actions, thoughts, and feelings, what dynamics are assumed, however and what systems are proposed to underlie those dynamics vary greatly across theoretical viewpoints. According to researchers at the personality project, personality is the coherent pattern of affect, cognition and desires (goals) as they lead to behavior (Revelle, 2013). Meanwhile, the American Psychology Association (APA) defines personality as individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving (APA, 2017). However you define personality, its an important part of who you are. In fact, personality shows a positive correlation with life satisfaction (Boyce, Wood, & Powdthavee, 2013). With personality having such a large impact on our lives, its important to have a reliable way to conceptualize and measure it.

The most prevalent personality framework is the Big Five, also known as the five factor model of personality. Not only does this theory of personality apply to people in many countries and cultures around the world (Schmitt et al., 2007), it provides a reliable assessment scale for measuring personality.

The factors of personality traits are neuroticism, agreeableness, extroversion, openness to experience and conscientiousness. These five factors do not provide completely exhaustive explanations of personality, but they are known as the Big Five because they encompass a large portion of personality related terms. The five factors are not necessarily traits in and of themselves, but factors in which many related traits and characteristics fit. Openness to experience has been described as the depth and complexity of an individual’s mental life and experiences (John & Srivastava, 1999). It is also sometimes called intellect or imagination. It concerns people’s willingness to try new things, their ability to be vulnerable, and their capability to think outside the box. An individual who is high in openness to experience is likely someone who has a love of learning, enjoys the arts, engages in a creative career or hobby, and likes meeting new people (Lebowitz, 2016). Conscientiousness is a trait that can be described as the tendency to control impulses and act in socially acceptable ways, behaviours that facilitate goal directed behavior (John and Srivastava, 1999). Conscientious people excel in their ability to delay gratification, work within the rules, and plan and organize effectively. People high in conscientiousness are likely to be successful in school and in their careers, to excel in leadership positions, and to doggedly pursue their goals with determination and forethought. While people low on conscientiousness are much more likely to procrastinate and to be flighty, impetuous, and impulsive (Lebowitz, 2016). People high in extroversion tend to seek out opportunities for social interaction, where they are often the”life of the party.” They are comfortable with others, are gregarious, and are prone to action rather than contemplation (Lebowitz, 2016). People high in agreeableness tend to be well liked, respected, and sensitive to the needs of others. They likely have few enemies and are affectionate to their friends and loved ones, as well as sympathetic to the plights of strangers (Lebowitz, 2016). Those high in neuroticism are generally prone to anxiety, sadness, worry, and low self esteem. They may be temperamental or easily angered, and they tend to be self conscious and unsure of themselves (Lebowitz, 2016).

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Broadly speaking, personality and temperament all refers to characteristics   patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviours over time and across situations. Although temperament often refers to traits reflecting  predominantly biological predispositions. Coping has also been described as “personality in action under stress” (Bolger, 1990, P.525). Therefore, personality and gender coping among suspects is the ability of male and female suspects to cope under stress when in police custody. Numerous models have been used to describe the structure of coping, with distinctions between problem and emotion-focused coping, engagement (approach, active) and disengagement (avoidant) coping, and primary (assimilative) and secondary (accommodative), control coping is the most widely used (Compass, Connor-smith, Saltzman, Thomsen & wardsworth,2001 and Skinner, Edge, Altman & Sherwood 2003). Coping means to invest ones conscious effort, to solve personal and interpersonal problems, in other to try to master, minimize or tolerate stress and conflict Weiten, W. & Lloyd, M.A. (2008).

The psychological coping mechanisms are commonly termed coping strategies or coping skills. The terms coping generally refers to adaptive (constructive) coping strategies. That is strategies which reduce stress. The effectiveness of the coping effort depends on the type of stress, the individual and the circumstances. Coping responses are partly controlled by personality (habitual traits), but also partly by the environment, particularly the nature of the stressful environment Carver, Charles, S.: CornorSmith, Jennifer (2010). Research like Weiten (2008), for instance, identifies four types of coping strategies:, W. & Lloyd, M.A. (2008). Like Appraisal focused (adaptive cognitive), Problem focused (adaptive behavioural), Emotion focused, Occupation focused W. & Lloyd, M.A. (2008).

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Appraisal focused strategies occur when the person modifies the way they think for example: employing denial, or distancing oneself from the problem. People may alter the way they think about a problem by altering their goals and values, such as by seeing the humor in a situation: some have suggested that humor may play a greater role as a stress moderator among women than men J. Worell (2001). People using problem focused strategies try to deal with the cause of their problem. They do this by finding out information on the problem and learning new skills to manage the problem. Problem focused coping is aimed at changing or eliminating the source of the stress. However, problem focused coping may not be necessarily adaptive, but backfire, especially in the uncontrollable case that one cannot make the problem go away Harrington & Rick (2013). Emotion focused strategies involve: releasing pent up emotions, distracting oneself, managing hostile feelings, meditating, using systematic relaxation procedures. Emotion focused coping is oriented toward managing the emotions that accompany the perception of stress Brannon, Linda, Feist, & Jess (2009). The focus of this coping mechanism is to change the meaning of the stressor or transfer attention away from it. Example, reappraising tries to find a more positive meaning of the cause of the stress in order to reduce the emotional component of the stressor. Emotion focused coping is well suited for stressors that seem uncontrollable (ex. a terminal illness diagnosis, or the loss of a loved one) Carver, C.S. (2011).

Evidence has shown that those in police custody face challenges of not being well fed, restricted movement and lack of enough space in their various prison cell during their custody in the hands of the police force. These challenges have made it so difficult for suspects to really cope while in police custody. It is on this note that this study seeks to investigate the influence of gender and personality on coping of suspects in police custody in Imo State.

Statement of the Problem

The bulk of the literature on relations between personality and coping is based on broad, dispositional measures of coping, which are prone to repointing biases and do not reflect the transactional nature of stress and coping. The police have a key role to play in protecting and respecting individuals’ rights, especially as regards persons considered to be in situations of vulnerability because of the interplay between their status in a particular society and the social context in which they find themselves (e.g. children, women, sexual minorities, disabled people and migrants). When members of vulnerable groups are arrested and detained by the police, particular care is required; steps may need to be taken to address their particular requirements and needs. For example, the police may need to make allowances for physically disabled persons to keep their crutches at all times in order to maintain their mobility, even when officers are concerned that this may pose a risk to security. In some countries it is common that, instead of protecting people in situations of vulnerability, the police participate in the prevailing stigmatization processes. For example, migrants and foreigners in xenophobic societies, populations in homophobic societies, and those with mental illness or intellectual impairment in confession-led legal systems may be more at risk of ill-treatment by the police; such persons should be given particular attention by monitoring bodies. The additional needs and protection required by socially marginalized groups in no way implies that detainees representative of the ‘majority’ should be discriminated against; instead, reasonable adjustments should be made to standard practices and/or structures in order to respect the rights of detainees who would otherwise be disadvantaged or placed at risk.

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Persons in police custody may be at risk of abuse from other detainees. If detainees are brought to cells without previous risk assessment by the police, it may result in fights, rapes, and other types of violence or even death. Racial and ethnic issues, as well as sexual orientation, are among the key factors that contribute to violence in police cells. Police acquiescence in detainees’ detrimental conduct to each other is unacceptable. Therefore, monitors should pay particularly attention to situations in which the police have, or might, ‘turn a blind eye’ to inter-detainee violence. It is the police’s duty to ensure that there is no violence among detainees. As far as persons with disabilities are concerned, the police must adapt to their needs through instituting “reasonable accommodation”.

According to Bishop et al., (2001), problems inherent to retrospective self report of coping may partly explain why the direct effects of personality on coping and the differences between effects for dispositional and situation specifically.

Most suspects in custody of the police have faced a lot of stressful condition such as unkept cell condition, inadequate feeding, inhuman torture and restriction of their freedom are various areas which suspects in the police custody face difficulties. Some of the suspects may cope by keeping to themselves, being open and keeping their minds away from the situation is a means which is used to enable suspects endeavor to cope. Some researchers have failed to adequately ascertain the nature of suspects coping personality and how gender predicts coping among suspects. Based on this, the study tends to examine the influence of gender and personality on coping behaviour of suspects in police custody in Imo State.

Purpose of the Study

The major purpose of this study is to investigate gender and personality as predictors of coping behaviors of suspects in police custody in Imo State. Specifically, the objectives of this study are:

  1. To determine whether personality will predict coping among suspects in police custody.
  2. To determine whether gender will predict coping among suspects in police custody.
  3. To determine whether personality and gender will jointly interact to predict coping among suspects in police custody.

Operational definition of terms

Personality: This can be defined as the characteristics sets of behaviors, cognitions, and emotional patterns that evolve from biological and environmental factors. This refers to extraversion, openness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and agreeableness. Personality will be measured using Big Five Inventory (BFI) by John, Donnahue & Kentle (1991).

Gender: This refers to sets of characteristics or traits that are associated with certain biological sex of being male or female.

Coping Behaviour: Coping behavior is often defined as efforts to prevent or diminish threat, harm and loss to reduce associated distress as measured by BRIEF COPE Inventory (BCI) by Carver, Scheier & Weintraub (1989).

Pages:  50

Category: Project

Format:  Word & PDF        

Chapters: 1-5

Material contains Table of Content, Abstract and References.

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