Parsing the First Impressions of a Security Operation

Parsing the First Impressions of a Security Operation

Experts say the psychology of first impressions plays a key role in the field of security operations. Researchers such as Alexander Todorov say it takes only one-tenth of a second to establish a first impression. Bernadette Doran explains how different uniform colors can directly affect moods, noting that in a study, “the light blue shirt and navy blue pants created the most positive impression on all seven scales.” However, managers should consider how officers’ uniforms match the intended image of an operation. Security leaders also rely on body language to help determine if someone is being truthful, deceptive, or simply nervous. A study by UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian found that body language is the leading piece of information when it comes to first impressions. Research suggests that 55 percent of an impression derives from body language and appearance, 38 percent from a person’s voice, and 7 percent from a person’s language. Factors such as whether an officer’s arms are crossed and making direct eye contact also affect the nature of the first impression. Certain design and architectural decisions, such as perimeter fencing and guard houses, also have a direct impact. It is essential for security professionals to work with architects to carefully examine where design and security intersect. For example, if a space can be designed with intentional calming effects, it may help reduce the likelihood of workplace violence. During design, new construction, or renovations, it is advantageous for security professionals to think beyond the basics of fences and turnstiles.

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From “Parsing the First Impressions of a Security Operation”
Security Management (04/20) Brownfeld, Burke Sigurdur

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