[IPAC-List] selection of international peace keeping officers

Mark Hammer Mark.Hammer at psc-cfp.gc.ca
Mon Sep 20 12:38:01 EDT 2010

Hi Fang,

Warm regards from L'Esplanade. (Fang and I worked together for a short

One of the things that any peace officer often has to do, whether
domestically or internationally, is make snap decisions about the
behaviour and intentions of others. One of the things we know about
people in general is that their "hit rate", when it comes to
interpreting the emotions and motives of others via facial expression
and/or body language, tends to be noticeably less accurate when making
such judgments across racial/ethnic lines than when making such
judgments within their own racial/ethnic group. Unfortunately, this is
somewhat disconnected from what is often grouped together under
"cultural sensitivity". Where cultural sensitivity is something that
one can express beliefs about, and make non-speeded post-hoc judgments
that are balanced, judgment of emotional state is something often done
well within 500-600 milliseconds in real-time, and the subsequent
behavioural decisions to be made on that basis (Should I draw my weapon,
or not?) are contingent on what takes place at a rather unconscious
level within that first half-second. As work by Anthony Greenwald, and
others, in the wake of the Amidou Diallo shooting in New York, has amply
illustrated, speeded unconscious inferences (often referred to as
"implicit associations") can be quite disconnected from conscious
deliberations, such that people who are as "culturally sensitive" as one
could ever hope for can still make biased speeded judgments about others
not in their own racial/ethnic group.

Several years ago, I had corresponded with an emotion researcher at UC
or Stanford (Hilary Elfenbein, now at Washington Univ in St. Louis)
about the development of an emotional recognition test kit that might be
suitable for identifying peace officers better or less suited to
placements in more diverse communities, and conceivably usable for staff
development purposes. This sparked her interest, and we exchanged a few
e-mails for a while, but I don't know if anything came of it. Her own
work had demonstrated that while cross-racial emotional recognition was
generally poorer than within-racial recognition, cross-racial emotional
recognition was trainable; not easily, but still trainable.

Insomuch as RCMP or other officers sent to foreign locations are sent
there precisely because it IS dangerous, and not just a routine beat
like patrolling highways, I should think their speeded judgments about
those around them are of just as much concern as their cultural
sensitivity, and anything that can identify those who might make poor
speeded decisions about the mental state and intentions of others
different from themselves will likely work in your favour for both
selection and development/preparation purposes. I wish I could point
you to a test kit, but I can't. All I can say at this point is that it
probably matters as much as all the other things on your list of skills,
and that development of a test kit is quite feasible; certainly no more
difficult than the speeded recognition tests used to select airport
baggage screeners. Such a test kit could even be readily tailored to
the specific international location and local emotion display rules
(e.g., how capable is the person of "reading" Afghani or Congolese or
Haitian faces?).

All the best,

>>> "Fang Tian" <fang.tian at rcmp-grc.gc.ca> 2010/09/20 12:01 PM >>>

Hi all,

I’m looking for information regarding any formalized selection
process of international peace keeping officer in police force or
military. We at RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) are looking to
improve and standardize the selection process of Canadian police
officers applying to go on missions. Currently, in addition to
policing experience and physical fitness requirements, candidates also
go through a medical and psychological ''fitness'' assessment to rule
out vulnerabilities to psychopathology (so that the person meets the
minimum medical profile required for this hiI’m looking for ways to assess candidate’s suitability (in addition
to clinical factors) for international missions (e.g., cognitive
capacity, problem solving, flexibility, cultural sensitivity,
leadership, interpersonal, organizational skills, etc.)

It would be greatly appreciated if anybody can provide any relevant


Fang Tian, Ph.D.
HR Assessment and Research/Recherche et Évaluation en RH
HR Renewal and Management Services/Services de renouvellement et de
gestion des RH
Human Resources Sector/Secteur des ressources humaines
Royal Canadian Mounted Police/Gendarmerie royale du Canada

73 Leikin Dr., M5-2, room 502E
Ottawa, ON
Tel/Tél: (613)843-6147
Fax/Téléc.:(613) 825-8751
Email: fang.tian at rcmp-grc.gc.ca

IPAC-List at ipacweb.org


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