Helms School of Government


Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice (PhD)


Marc Philip Weiss


cognition, leader, neuroplasticity, stress


Leadership Studies


The purpose of this applied study was to help in the understanding of how stress has a significant impact on criminal justice leadership. The research design with the applied study was multimethod. The multimethod design correlated interviews, surveys, and archival data to understand the correlation between stress events and perceived cognitive abilities. The central questions within this study were related to prolonged exposure to high stress and whether criminal justice leaders have a lower cognitive ability than those not exposed to high-stress situations. With the malleability of the human brain allowed by neuroplasticity, do criminal justice leaders have altered abilities due to stress? This applied study used participants and collected both qualitative and quantitative data. The data collected came from surveys, interviews, and archival data. The eight participants held the role of criminal justice leader. The data were triangulated with three methods of research: interviews, surveys, and archival data. Participants in the study indicated that they noticed themselves thinking differently due to the job, even those with five years or less experience. However, the mean was higher, at 4.33, among participants with 16-20 years of experience. They showed a change in ability with the addition of negative emotions surrounding their jobs. Recommendations for future studies would be expanding the sample size and samples taken in metropolitan areas to compare against the samples in rural areas.