Original Research

Burnout, vigour, big five personality traits and social support in a sample of police officers

Gerrit J. Louw
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 40, No 1 | a1119 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v40i1.1119 | © 2014 Gerrit J. Louw | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 April 2013 | Published: 27 August 2014

About the author(s)

Gerrit J. Louw, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa


Orientation: Burnout occurs as a result of prolonged job stress, which is a phenomenon prevalent amongst police officers in South Africa. Whilst some suffer from burnout, others elude the pathological effects of burnout and execute their duties vigorously under the same circumstances.

Research purpose: The purpose of the study was to obtain an understanding of a police officer’s need to reduce the effects of prolonged stressors and to utilise personal and social sources to mitigate the effects of negative stressors.

Motivation for the study: Burnout causes negative health consequences for police officers. Those who are affected reflect withdrawal behaviour through operational disruption or lower productivity in the work context.

Research design, approach and method: The research has a non-experimental design in the quantitative tradition with a cross-sectional data-collection method. The availability sample (N = 505) included participants from different demographic backgrounds. A survey was used to measure all constructs at a single point in time.

Main findings: Neuroticism and a lack of family support predicted burnout whilst conscientiousness and emotional stability predicted vigour. This was followed by significant other, which predicted physical strength, friend support which predicted emotional energy and family support which predicted cognitive liveliness.

Practical/managerial implications: The study provides markers for selection purposes and calls on police management to be aware of the value of social support in the prevention of burnout whilst encouraging supervisor support in operational designs.

Contribution/value-add: The study adds to the body of knowledge on the role of personality and social support in burnout and vigour in police officers.


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