The Application of General Strain Theory in Assessing the Impact of Stress on Undercover Police Officers

Michael Arter, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

The tenants of general strain theory have been applied almost exclusively to examine the relationships between various conceptualizations of strain and delinquency. As general strain theory is presented as a "general" theory, the central tenants and premises of the theory should be equally applicable to adult populations. This discussion will consider general strain theory and its applicability in assessing the impact of stress and the responses by means of maladaptive coping behaviors in police officers who have been assigned, or currently are assigned, in undercover operations. Additionally, this discussion will also examine the applicability of general strain theory to the professional, personal, and social strains encountered by officers in undercover assignments and the spouse/significant others of those officers.

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Updated 05/20/2006