Cultural Awareness Training and Learning Styles of Police Officers

When developing professional and in-service training modules, instructors and facilitators need to be aware of potential positive and negative interactions between the training topics to be delivered and the personalities of those receiving the training.  This concept becomes especially important when delivering training material that is controversial or may be perceived to be controversial such as occurs in cultural awareness training.  One model that can be used to assist in the psychological awareness necessary to effectively conduct cultural awareness training uses the theories proposed by Carl Jung and further classified by Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers through the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI, psychometric assessment.  The MBTI assessment analyzes personality on four dichotomies – attitude, functions and lifestyle – to sort individuals into the sixteen primary psychological archetypes described a century ago by Carl Jung (Wikipedia, 2011; Myers & Briggs Foundation, 2011).

While predominant extraversion or introversion attitudes may help determine the method of training and judgmental or perceptional lifestyles may help determine the style of training a greater focus can be placed on the predominant functions of the target audience.  According to the MTBI, the two functioning dichotomies are divided into sensing(S)/intuition(N) and thinking(T)/feeling(F) (Wikipedia, 2011).  It would be understandable to assume that many people inclined to become trainers and facilitators in cultural awareness programs would have predominate function in intuition (N) and feeling (F), however, their natural method of delivery for training would be opposite of the predominate function found among law enforcement officers as Buros’ research (1965 & 1978) showed that the vast majority of law enforcement officers are thinkers (T) and Hennesy’s research (1991) showed that the majority of law enforcement officers are sensors (S).  Further emphasis on the need to focus on the target audience in cases of law enforcement training can be inferred from the relative frequency of the personality types among Americans which tell us that the majority are sensors (73.3%) and feelers (59.8%) with only 30% of Americans classified within the function pair (ST) where the majority of law enforcement officers are found (Myers & Briggs Foundation, 2011).

Once an instructor or facilitator begins to take into account personality profiles when developing training, it becomes easier to design curriculum for cultural awareness programs to the target audience.  A trainer who focuses on the predominant function pair (ST) found among law enforcement officers will recognize that the target audience “tend to approach life and work in an objective and analytical manner, and like to focus on realities and practical applications in their work” (Myers & Briggs Foundation, 2011).  As such, trainers should remember that law enforcement officers will usually require clear, solid, reasonable and understandable facts delivered in a structured order for maximum retention.  It would, of course, be prudent to include material that will appeal to the sensing/feeling (SF) function pair that comprises the second most common group of law enforcement officers.  Such additional material would be people-oriented and allow for a personal approach to cultural awareness (Myers & Briggs Foundation, 2011).  By allowing the predominate personality types to influence the development of training modules the instructors and facilitators can help ensure the maximum impact, learning and retention among the target audience of law enforcement personnel.


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Hennessy, S.M.  (1991).  A study of uncommon Jungian cognitive preferences in the law enforcement profession.  Doctoral Dissertation, Dissertation Abstracts International.  Ann Arbor, Michigan.

How Frequent is my Type?  (n.d.).  Retreived on February 20, 2011, from the Myers & Briggs Foundation:

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Understanding MBTI Type Dynamics.  (n.d.).  Retrieved on February 20, 2011, from the Myers & Briggs Foundation:

© 2011 – 2014, Jeremy Liebbe. All rights reserved.

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About the author

Jeremy Liebbe holds a Master of Science in Forensic Psychology, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Police Science, and is currently completing a Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology. He has over a decade of law enforcement investigative experience as a detective sergeant with experience including narcotics, crimes against children, and homicide investigations. As a result of his expertise in complex criminal investigations and forensic mental health Jeremy has earned numerous commendations, lectured throughout Texas and in several other states, authored and co-authored over a half dozen published papers, and has provided expert testimony in over a dozen felony trials.