Be Careful Who Is Interpreting The Data.Asst. Professor In Firefighter Personality Study Says Globe Was Wrong

Globe lets union reply go without posting, but professor calls out the opinionated editor.


On 8 February we shared with you Boston Local 718′s response, still not printed, to an Op-Ed piece in the Boston Globe written by Lawrence Harmon on his interpretation of a personality study in 2010 journal, Personality and Individual Differences. The study looked at the personality differences of 206 fire and police recruits in the Boston and southern New Hampshire area.

The Boston Fire Department union, Local 718, president Richard Paris provided a well written reply, still not printed in the Globe, and posted it to their Facebook page.

Today, the Boston Globe has printed a response – not the union one above, but from the assistant professor involved in the editorialized research:

LAWRENCE HARMON’S Feb. 6 op-ed column “Fire and police are worlds apart’’ cited a study on the personalities of police and firefighter recruits that I published with two colleagues in the journal Personality and Individual Differences in 2010. The conclusions that Harmon drew (that firefighters are “shameless manipulators’’ while police “look like choirboys in comparison’’) were not warranted by our data.

While we did find small differences between police and firefighters on the personality dimensions of dutifulness and deliberation, both groups scored within the normal range compared to the general population. That is, neither group would be considered significantly higher or lower in these dimensions than the average person. Harmon’s implication that firefighters are morally inferior is not justifiable.

Further, the participants in our study were asked to report on their own personality; this method has significant limitations. For example, perhaps police think of themselves as more dutiful. This does not mean that they necessarily behave in more dutiful ways. This and other limitations of the study were presented quite clearly in our discussion of the findings.

I am grateful to the Boston-area police and firefighters who participated in this study, and I am disappointed that the findings have been misrepresented in this way.

Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Eastern Connecticut State University
Willimantic, Conn.

[bold mine]

Thank you to Assistant Professor Salters-Pedneault for setting the record straight and reviewing who reviews your research.

Did I mention that the Globe has still not printed the union’s reply?

“Fire and Police Are Worlds Apart”, Lawrence Harmon, Boston Globe, 6 February 2011
“Disappointed in way police and firefighter study was presented”, Boston Globe, 17 February 2011



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Comments
Ron Ayotte
“FEAR” by Ric Jorge
Ric, excellent article. Your FD is not the only one that suffers from TAS (Training Anxiety Syndrome). Same circus, different community. As far as seeking help from an EAP, I did take advantage of my community's EAP 8 years into my career. I was heading down the road to a separation/divorce after I got promoted…
2014-12-04 16:04:47
Mike McAdams
Who Looks After The Victims?
Captain LeBlanc, Great point in the blog debating the new and old techniques and how to blend them into that first minutes on the fire ground. One of the first points stated was “Unless they know your manpower, resources and abilities, and are standing in that front lawn at 2:00 a.m., all they can do…
2014-12-02 14:45:23
Ruel Douvillier
Who Looks After The Victims?
I suspect these new tactics are all related to the NFPA standard that came out a few years ago recommending higher manpower on apparatus than the authorities having jurisdiction were prepared to implement. For the 30+ years that I've been fighting fires, UL and NIST have been using the data that they gained by setting…
2014-12-02 11:48:44
Joseph carroll
Who Looks After The Victims?
I work in a dept with 2 man Engine cos, man powers is an issue with our first due assignment. (3 engs,2 Trks , Batt Chief). Usually 13 Firefighters on the assignment. At times the exterior attack has no option, heavy fire too include exposures etc. some new leaders feel that this exterior attack is…
2014-12-01 19:05:51
Brian
Who Looks After The Victims?
Am I missing the old SSLEEVES-OCD pneumonic??? seems that one. It addressed alot of the things we have to think of, and the new Slicers is something that I think in right circumstances and construction would make sense, but at other times might be completely useless. I have watched and read alot of the NIST…
2014-12-01 02:10:06
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