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Monday, August 24, 2009

Comments

As you note, it parallels a lot of hiring decisions not to give the job to the "overqualified". What bothers me about this is that I think it's an assumption, not necessarily borne out by actual job experiences, and in an economy like ours almost anyone is grateful for any job, so is unlikely to leave in a hurry.

I know this point of view has often been advanced to my spouse or I when we have applied for work. "You are overqualified". I was only able to get around this because I started out working part-time somewhere and got to be friendly with the people so that when I eventually passed the test for a full time job, they already knew that I was okay, a reliable worker, not an elitist snot, and that I was likely to stay.

My spouse, in youth, worked in a bank and observed that the people who ended up in the management training program were universally bad tellers during the mandatory time at that job. It is possible that there are certain jobs where thinking too much or attitude get in the way of being a good little worker bee? I'm not sure I agree with this, tho.

Certainly, IQ tests tend to predict who is going to do well in academics, and fail to measure all kinds of other capacities and gifts. But I can't see how high intelligence could be anything but an asset to a police officer. Their work becomes daily more difficult. Juggling demands by citizenry to keep them safe with requirements to be politically correct and also safeguard the rights of different groups whose behavior may be confusing (different body language and responses of people with issues, or from different cultures), having to be sensitive to the difference between a psychotic bipolar kid and a healthy but murderous one, havin to deliver babies in an emergency or treat a rape victim compassionately...there are so many ways police officers have to learn roles never dreamed of a couple of generations ago. Analagous to the way teachers are now expected to be social workers, sex educators, mediators, etc. in addition to having to educate mainstreamed disabled kids as well as typical ones in the same classroom...

It seems that personality testing (if any is reliable? Dr X, you would know) would be more useful. To weed out those likely to be cruel and arbitrary, those with too good an opinion of themselves?
However, an element to this is that people are usually more willing to give a woman a job that she is overqualified for than they are to give one to a man. There is still the view that when push comes to shove, mothers will do whatever it takes to feed their kids, whereas men may find some work less than fulfilling and say "Take this and shove it" and go looking for something better. I don't mean to be chauvinist, but I work with dozens of women who are currently supporting unemployed male spouses who are too overqualified (actually, just too old where we are) to get hired. The women are often even more educated and professionally experienced than the men, but they can act non-threatening, social, whatever to get hired. But thinking at the keyboard, so I may be grossly sexist or illogical here...

You might find this link interesting, Dr. X, as I believe we have batted back and forth about whether there are cultural differences in facial expressions (you had done a lot mroe research than I had)...http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090813142131.htm

Also, re-reading your initial post, it suddenly hit me that the guy is listed as 49. Was he 36 or 49 when he was tested to be a police officer? Considering the physical condition of most of the 45 plus year old police officers I have been acquainted with, perhaps the real issue was his age? They couldn't say so for fear of an age discrimination suit.

If he was 36, who knows? Age may still have been an issue. ALthough plenty of guys are great marathoners into old age, most average American guys aren't in as good shape in their late 30s as the kids in their 20s. Mentally tougher certainly, more mature, more life experience, probably wiser and less hormonal, but perhaps not as fast runners or able to endure gruelling physical ordeals? I realize there are many individual exceptions. But people starting out as police officers are usually out patrolling, so youth would be an asset.

Good points, R. The age caught my attention too. You might be right about the underlying motivation.

Is there any study or proof supporting this claim about the theory that those who scored too high could get bored with police work?

Htbapo,

I don't know of any. As I said, I've known about the practice of using IQ top cut-offs in applicant selection for some occupations, and I suspect there is research showing the validity of the practice for certain occupations. But until I read the above referenced story, I hadn't heard of these top-end cut-offs being used in police applicant selection. I would not have expected that. Also, I have no idea how widely such cut-offs are used in police officer selection. It may be a common practice or a relatively rare practice. The only academic reading I've done with respect to police officer selection pertains to the use of the MMPI and the MMPI-2.

I had a similar experience in the military. Not having enough pre-knowledge in getting a rate, I entered into the Navy in '83 with an 86 Asvab. Myself and my rack mate completed boot and went into the Seaman apprentice program. The chief came to us on the second day and said "You two don't belong here, go to this building and get a rate". So we went, and the PN said "You're over-qualified", to which upon reporting this the chief just shook his head in disbelief. He then send the next two and so on, until Jimmy what's his name from the Arkansas farmlands, got an Airman school and was shipped out. His Asvab was a 43.
The point is that when things like this come up, it's not about taking the brightest, it's about filling a middle of the road slot. Giving a break or second chance to someone who may have not had enough early success to get a career going. On the other hand, if a person is that intelligent, maybe he should just become a corporate lawyer.

I am a police officer in a mid-size, urban New England department. My IQ has been tested as high as 164. I am a life member of MENSA. In 23 years as a cop I have NEVER been bored. This CONN. case is nonsense...pure age discrimination.

I love this job and every day is a challenge.

The speculation in the comment thread is incorrect. The New London Police did not single out Mr. Jordan. Whether the policy is wise or not, the city proved in court that the policy was in place and that all applicants scoring above 27 were excluded from consideration.

That is why the city won.

They don't want guys out there tricking the system. lots of Lawyers are criminals why? they understand the system, they know how to not get caught and if they do get caught they know how to get out of trouble.

This whole "Getting bored" bullcrap is covering the real story
;)

Eliminating high IQ applicants from consideration has an empirical basis for some jobs (begin bottom 157). If the findings are generalizable to police work, not all high IQ hires would become dissatisfied, but effective hiring is about probabilities. Departments invest a great deal of money in hires before they get any return on investment, so along with predicted performance, retention rates are a paramount consideration.

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