The effect of job expectations on health outcomes and job satisfaction : the mediating effects of reality shock within the New Zealand police : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology at Massey University
Research evidence has shown that job expectations are usually unrealistic prior to organisational entry, but tend to decline to more realistic levels with time and work experience (Nicholson & Arnold, 1991). The process of organisational socialisation is a useful perspective from which to view this expectation development. When organisational socialisation is unsuccessful, new employees are likely to experience 'reality shock': the physical and psychological response to the realisation that their job expectations have been inaccurate. Other immediate consequences of having inaccurate job expectations can include poor health outcomes and low job satisfaction. The primary aims of the present study were, 1) to measure a number of job expectations in a sample of police recruits, and to determine whether these job expectations change with time and experience, and 2) to investigate whether inaccurate job expectations are related to reality shock and poor health outcomes and low job satisfaction. It was hypothesised that job expectations would be related to reality shock and negative health outcomes and low job satisfaction. Furthermore, it was predicted that reality shock would mediate the relationship between job expectations and poor health outcomes and job satisfaction. These aims and hypotheses were tested by surveying police recruits during their first week of training, and again after six months' work experience. The results showed that expectations of both organisational stress and sexual discrimination were associated with reality shock. Organisational stress expectations were the only expectation variable to be related to reality shock, health outcomes, and job satisfaction. Regression analyses showed that reality shock mediated the link between organisational stress expectations and psychological distress, negative affect, and job satisfaction. These results were discussed with reference to the reliability and validity of the measures used and possible avenues for future research. The present study's results have important implications regarding current police recruit training procedures, and the usefulness of reality shock as a construct from which to understand the consequences of inaccurate job expectations.