Key body language to avoid being the victim of a crime

Try to remember an acquaintance who has been assaulted several times. Now he tries to remember another but has never been stripped of his things on the street. Remember what they look like when they walk, how are they different? Who seems safer than walking? Who seems the most powerful and who the weakest?

Thefts, assaults … and how to prevent them with imposing body language

It is not unknown to us today the importance of our body language in communicationAs day by day, various theories on this subject are more and more widely accepted by the scientific community. Like the fact that about 80% of our communication is done through our gestures and expressions.

It is also through the latter that we can more easily show empathy and express our emotions and feelings to others. But just as we can convey a positive mood, we can also project: insecurity, fear, vulnerability and helplessness through our body language. Today we are going to explain how this strongly influences the victimization process and the dynamics of victimization (i.e. how we become victims of a crime or an accident), especially if the last four characteristics mentioned above are projected. In addition to providing some tips to improve our body language.

Modern interest in the victim and the experience

From the early work of Benjamin Mendelsson in the process of becoming a victim of an accident, an attack or a crime in the 1960s, victimology (discipline responsible for the study of victims) quickly became the reason for interest in social sciences such as criminology, law and of course psychology.

This interest in how people go from being just passers-by to escalating a crime led researchers Betty Grayson and Morris Stein in the 1980s to come up with a simple experiment reflecting a series of very particular results. The dynamic that Grayson and Stein led was this: In a prison, a group of inmates (including people who had been robbed, raped and even murdered) were shown, individually, a series of videos whose content was simply passers-by walking normally on a New York street.

The only thing the criminals had to tell investigators was communicate to them which of all those crossing the street they would choose as potential victims. Investigators estimated that the moment when they came to a decision on the potential victim was only seven seconds. In stating their selections, the results were somewhat disconcerting as each detainee’s choice was consistent, i.e. although each volunteer saw the video separately, the defendants repeatedly chose the same victims.

Defendants choose their victims because of their (bad) body language

Another equally curious fact turned out to be that everyone’s choice did not depend on race, age, height, or physical build, as some women with builds seemed fragile, went unnoticed unlike some. tall and relatively stocky men who, yes, they were chosen. .

When the convicts were asked what such an election was due, they replied that they weren’t sure exactly why, they just said they looked like easy targets. And already to the fact that none of the above criteria was a reason for choosing a person, what determined whether a person was offended or not? The researchers performed a much more in-depth analysis to reach the following results.

Our body language indicates whether we are vulnerable or strong

it seems like much of the predator / prey selection process is unconscious and this is due to the fact that inmates were more oriented towards expressing the body language of potential victims.

Characteristics of vulnerable body language

The researchers found that the group of “victims” chosen in the video shared a number of characteristics with each other regarding their body language, highlighting the following points.

1. Step and rhythm

The “strides” taken by each victim were in some ways exaggerated and may be unusually long or extremely short. Sign of insecurity or anxiety. In contrast, those who were not selected recorded normal “strides” on their walk. In terms of mastery of walking, natural selection I teach predators to always pay attention to the slowest in the herd. As a rule, a slow pace in walking, without intentionality or aimlessness projects insecurity, fear and helplessness.

2. Discontent and indecision

Turning around to see everywhere as lost, hesitant glances and going back on the same path he had already taken were common traits among some of the selected victims. A person who is insecure is easier for criminals to control. Likewise, if you stop to talk to strangers to ask for directions, the criminals will think that you are a tourist or that you are in an area unknown to you, which will make you much more vulnerable.

3. Luxury items

Criminologists point out that criminals live under a distorted value system in which society is seen as an unjust system in which only a few can enjoy privileges and luxuries, feeling more anger against this society. So public display of your possessions (e.g. expensive watches, rings, gold bracelets, expensive cell phones, etc.) often rekindles this rage. Many people who in the video showed various assets were often chosen as victims.

4. Torso and gaze

Another thing that the people chosen in the video by the inmates had in common was the position of the torso and the direction of gaze. Often people who walked down with their shoulders down and inward, hunched over and staring at the ground, distracted or lost, were chosen. The gestures indicated above these are unequivocal signs of helplessness. They project a strong weakness.

5. Totality

Last but not least, he stood out among the chosen victims who his gestures lacked symmetry and fullness in his movements. Their limbs moved as if they were separate or independent from the rest of their body. On the other hand, the “non-victims” benefit from a balance in relation to their movements.

How does this theory apply to crime prevention?

As we have pointed out above, much of the victim selection process is carried out unconsciously by the offenders. It is perhaps a trait inherited from millions of years of evolution to find the weakest of the herd at a glance. Like a wild animal, the human predator wants to make the slightest effort when hunting, he does not want a difficult and dangerous jobFind out who looks weaker, submissive, and probably doesn’t fight.

Various practical tips to improve body language

Our body language is largely unconscious, so it is extremely difficult, but not impossible, to change it. Certain cues and attitudes can help us emit more powerful and positive body language, which it will make us less vulnerable to crime. Here are the following recommendations.

  • Develop your outreach skills: There are many ways to be more aware of your surroundings, to become familiar with the routes you take every day on the way home, the rush hours when people move the most, and those who frequently walk in. your neighborhood, to practice yoga, meditate or practice a martial art (more on this later).
  • Exercise: stay in shape not only has an impact on your ability to physically repel aggression, but also on your body to release dopamine and endorphins which make you feel better about yourself, which will make you develop more self-confidence and increase your self-esteem, which will make you feel better about yourself. have a positive impact on your body language.
  • Find out more: Knowledge and information is scientifically proven to reduce our fear and increase our confidence, let’s remember that this is a quality that is expressed in the body language of those who have not been victimized. Reading articles on how to avoid being a victim, self defense, and newspapers about what’s going on in your city can help you stay informed.
  • Practice self-defense: Do not exercise this when an attacker asks for your business, because in this case it will always be prudent to avoid any confrontation, but because taking a self-defense course has been shown to strongly affect our confidence in the face of a dangerous situation, this confidence has a very positive impact on our body language and increases your awareness of the environment. Therefore, it reduces the likelihood of looking like a potential victim.

More tips to improve body language

Agree to increase your self-confidence and feel better about yourself, the less risk you are of being the victim of a crime because your body language will express well-being, power and confidence. As you change your body language, you may choose to add the following gestures that may prevent you from becoming a victim:

  • Always walk with your chin raisedParallel to the horizon while keeping a steady and secure gaze, when someone sees you keep their gaze, but don’t be fussy (often this tactic deters criminals from bothering you).
  • Lift your shoulders and stay straight, Pull out your chest a little, it’s a sign of power.
  • Walk at regular and normal steps. Neither very fast nor very slow. Neither too long nor too short. Try to make them harmonious and not “robotic”.
  • Maintain harmony with your footsteps, Your arms and your gestures.
  • If you don’t remember any street or have doubts on your way, Enter a cafe or store to ask for directions. Avoid asking and talking to strangers for help.
  • Move your arms naturally and in a balanced way in relation to your steps.
  • Don’t walk down the street with ostentatious jewelry. Avoid talking on a cell phone, listening to music, and looking distracted.

Bibliographical references:

  • Grayson, B. and Stein, MI (1981), Attracting Assault: Victims’ Nonverbal Tails. Journal of Communication, 31: 68-75. doi: 10.1111 / j.1460-2466.1981.tb01206.

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