Applying “spidey sense”
: emotional intelligence and police decision-making at domestic incidents

  • Anne Eason

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Chaos theory suggests a small act can have a powerful impact on future events. This research takes this suggestion and explores the decision-making of police officers at domestic violence incidents as just such an act that can have a long-term impact on victim(s) lives. Applying the concept of emotional intelligence as an assistive means for problem-solving and decision-making, this research aimed to find out how, or if, police officers draw upon emotional intelligence in their decision-making at domestic incidents and what value they place on its development within the force.
Taking a qualitative approach, 27 police officers across four police areas in England were interviewed and the data, coded and categorised, in a thematic analysis that revealed four central themes forming a new ‘emotional intelligence competence’. Environmental competence is symbolic of policing practice that is adaptive and autonomous and as recommended, supporting officers develop this will frustrate the diminishment of emotional intelligence that reportedly occurs through longer-term policing experience. It will also promote the willingness to follow instinct, essential when responding to domestic incidents. A small change in individual development that can have wider practice and cultural implications for the police service and sustainable long-term safety for the victim.
Date of AwardSept 2019
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAndy Williams (Supervisor) & Madeline Ruth Petrillo (Supervisor)

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