University of Twente Student Theses


Can hostile intent be detected by means of signaling?

Stekkinger, M.R. (2012) Can hostile intent be detected by means of signaling?

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Abstract:An experiment was conducted in order to uncover if a (non-) verbal signal sent at greater than interpersonal distance by a police officer could aid in the detection of hostile intentions. The experiment, which was recorded on video, consisted of several people with and without hostile intent walking past a police officer, carrying a package that contained either illegal or normal material. The police officer utilized a strong (clearly aimed at the participants) or a weak, ambiguous (not directed at the participants) signal to elicit behavioral responses. A main effect supported our theory that individuals with hostile intent experienced themselves as being the target of social interaction more often than those without hostile intent, yet this effect was most pronounced when a strong signal was present. Contrary to what was hypothesized, a strong signal also led participants to be more publicly self-conscious when harboring hostile intentions; no differences between hostile and non-hostile intent were revealed for public self-consciousness when a weak signal was present. The videos from the first experiment were also coded for behavioral differences, but our hypothesized effects regarding differences in the amount of gestures and the orientating reflex remained absent. To complement our experiment, a second study was set up to provide more definitive answers regarding the usage of signals to uncover intent. Our second study revealed the expected differences in expertise; experts gave more accurate judgments, rejecting the individuals in the videos who were not harboring hostile intentions and correctly marking those who were burdened with hostile intent, as compared to laypersons. Surprisingly, the second study showed a similar effect of the strong signal; accuracy scores were significantly better when a strong signal was present, as compared to when a weak signal was present in the videos. In addition, this was supported by more behavioral cues being reported for strong signal videos, as compared to weak signal videos. Why a strong signal instead of a weak signal evoked better discrimination is elaborated on in the general discussion
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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