Podemos dejar de hablar, pero no podemos dejar de comunicar a través de los canales no verbales. Los gestos, las posturas y movimientos, la expresión facial, la oculésica, la apariencia, la proxémica, la háptica, o la proxodia emocional, comunican cosas que a veces contradicen a las palabras.
miércoles, 10 de diciembre de 2014
"Key signals for survival of a law enforcement officer"
Author: José Manuel Petisco Rodríguez English translation: Jose Pacheco García
people are unaware of the impact of their gait,
position, gestures and even the tone of their voice when being
chosen by some criminal as potential victims. Just us animals selects their victims
looking for vulnerabilities, the criminal, usually select people who instinctively are perceived
as a fragile target. But what happens when the target is
a law enforcement officer?
my point of view, the criminal will be
guided by the same principles as a predatory animal, as is shown by several FBI
investigations related to the security of public order (Pinizzotto & Davis, 1999). According to these investigations,
the police officers signals clearly mark the way in which criminals interact
know that every individual has a characteristic way of sitting, standing and
walking. Proof of this is that
we are all able to recognize our friends and family from a long distance,
just due to their gait or position. According to Flora Davis (1976),
the way we move, sometimes is as personal as our signature, and
often is an indisputable key of our character. But, if a law enforcement
officer, by his nature or any other reason, does not transmit authority and confidence with their gestures and
postures, can he gain confidence and security by adopting gestures and postures
that convey precisely those messages?
Paul Elman’s teachings, a world renowned authority in the field of gestures, we could say "yes". Ekman
(2003) confirmed that an intentional facial expression change,
adopting a particular emotional expression, causes similar physiological changes that occur if the facial expression
would has been spontaneous. We also know that the facial expression may affect
the mood influencing the way we move. According to Flora
Davis citations, when a person goes through a long depression
period, the body goes awry and the shoulders are bent because
of the problems weight (Davis, 1976). Ray Birdwhistell (1970),
meanwhile, studied the motion of people’s bodies and hands in
numerous videos from the 70s and beyond, concluding that concerned people walk with
clenched fists. We also know that concerned people show this concern walking (hands
behind, head down, etc.). Besides, this
concern may cause the movement to seem hesitant or the gait awkward.
these examples come to emphasize,
once again, the clear connection in psychology
between thoughts, emotions and behavior. Therefore, we might say that what is
going on in the mind of an individual finally is transferred to the external
behavior. In this regard, a public authority
agent, worried, or going through a
stressful situation, facing their personal safety,
may be more vulnerable than other who is not troubled or
stressed. Instead, a brisk walking could denote a great vigor and have a
positive impact on a vital image. For Pease (2006) the walk of young,
healthy and energetic people, swinging arms above, forward and
backward, it’s faster than most people walk (probably because they have more
vitality and muscle flexibility).
if we intentionally adopt certain postures or facial expressions, we begin to
experience the emotions associated with these postures and gestures, denoting safety, trust or authority, contributing to feel more secure, confident and
positive about the control over the situation. Furthermore,
others believe we are secured agents, confident and in control of the
situation. For that reason, it would be important, for
all members of the Security Forces, to know what gestures and postures convey trust,
confidence and authority to other people.
this point, if the above is
correct, it would be interesting to train Security
Forces in two different, but closely related ways: the
observation of other people´s gestures and body movements, which may be
indicative of a potential safety hazard as well as being aware and knowing what
gestures and postures convey trust, confidence, or
authority towards others.
this regard, there are enough publications of a certain rigor highlighting the
possible readings of the gestures that we show,
but unfortunately there are few studies that demonstrate what
signals emitted by an agent make him a potential victim of the criminal,
or what signals make the offender give up the idea of
attacking, remaining "docile" to him. What
influence may the Agent´s gestures and postures have? May his appearance or the
peculiarities of his voice have influence? May the message content that sends
have influence? It seems clear that we must investigate
and look into this matter.
example, before an
identification request by an agent, what signs might indicate that a suspect will
run? Which one is going to respond aggressively? What gestures denote submission?
Warning signs of a possible escape attempt, such as facial
expression, eye movement seeking a way out, a change in the
orientation of their feet, gestures to run away, could
be identified as useful. Regarding gestures that may indicate an attack towards
the agent, we could pay attention to hands clenched into
fists, putting hands into pockets or inside the vehicle looking
for something, the facial expression denoting anger or rage, whether hits some
stuff or himself (to increase adrenaline levels), etc.
is clear that criminals, like predators, do appreciate
the potential vulnerabilities of their victims and when in doubt choose an
easier "prey". Therefore law enforcement
officers should always be aware of the non verbal messages they give to suspects
with whom they interact. Do they transmit doubt and
insecurity or security and authority?
know that indicators like the agent’s voice or certain behaviors may affect the
offender behavior in one way or another,
but no studies have shown exactly which those indicators are. Intuitively,
we could say that an authoritarian voice opposed to a friendly voice, or a
secure gesture against a wave of doubt or insecurity, may be some of those
signs. Do not convey the same image certain energetic movements than slow and
lacking energy movements.
signs, based on the behavior
of predators, may be related to the agent’s appearance. So,
an obese agent could be more vulnerable than an agent with an athletic
appearance, or a tall and heavy agent
could give a greater impression of control over the situation than a smaller
agent, or a young agent may be more vulnerable to an
offender than a veteran agent.
the way he looks, the gestures that he issues,
the way he walks or talks tell a criminal that this agent will
be a difficult target? As we have stated, we cannot know for certain what signals are those that contribute to make a decision
by the offende, fleeing, attacking the agent or following
his instructions faithfully. What is clear is that, from my point of view, the entire range of Security Forces should be trained in the
nonverbal behavior areas, because their conduct and the impact of their actions
are the key for his survival facing an arrest, or to the daily
tasks required by the normal performance of their duties.
Birdwhistell, R. (1970). Kinesis
and context: Essays on body motion communication.Filadelfia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Davis, F. (1976). La comunicación no verbal.
(L. Mouglier, Trans.) Madrid: Alianza Editorial.
Ekman, P. (2003). El rostro de las emociones.
Signos que revelan significado más allá de las palabras. (J. J. Serra,
Trans.) Barcelona: RBA Libros S.A.
Pease, A., & Pease, B. (2006). El lenguaje
del cuerpo. Cómo interpretar a los demás a través de sus gestos.
Barcelona: Amat, S.L.
Pinizzotto, A., & Davis, E. (1999, Junio).
Percepciones de los delincuentes. ¿Qué mensajes envían los agentes del orden
a los delincuentes? FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 68(6).