Identifying at-risk behaviors: Is it a sixth sense?

Since primitive times, humans have evolved to use a “sixth” sense or intuition that alerts us to danger and makes us react. Not True! Rather, each of us has developed a perceptual ability and thinking skills that enable us to make sense of complexity through human behavior pattern recognition and predictive analysis.  
 In fact our ability allows us to sense risks and take actions in a variety of survival situations where there are perceived threats. Our research team is currently determining whether these predictive analysis skills could be trained or improved. If this approach were to show promise, the sense making ability could be adopted to spot risks and respond to them in complex, adaptive systems to improve readiness and defeat an insider threat.

sixth sense cat

One application of this approach might be suited for profiling individuals who are at-risk for suicide by assessing indicators from their body language and biometric signatures to their habits and hangouts. Collaborating with a Team from Orbis Operations using its proprietary Gatekeeper Situational Awareness Program (GSAT©), we are participating in pilot testing their one-day seminars. The audience will consist of nearly 600 Soldiers and their first line supervisors. The goal is to acquire knowledge and skills needed to assess conditions and unmask at-risk behaviors, which were hiding in plain sight. Then, Soldiers practice how to communicate their perceptions to others before a suicide event could take place. In addition to these measurable learning outcomes, the training addresses how to remove the stigma of reporting at-risk behaviors as a pathway to intervention and treatment.

Results of the knowledge gains will be based on a comparison of pre- and post-training reaction surveys, non-participant observations, and achievement tests. Alone these results will not fully explain whether the learning outcomes transfer to operational settings. For this reason, we have begun to examine the outcomes more thoroughly at the completion of training as well as their impacts on readiness. A key component of this work involves the development of instruments to assess recognition skills and application of key concepts by the trainees.

To provide much needed empirical evidence of the finding, we developed and will field-test a GSAT© achievement test for use during future training. The test items measure recognition skills and application of concepts related to human behavior pattern recognition. Individual test scores will be analyzed and reported to describe learning outcomes compared to a standard. Post-training Leader Surveys will provide organizations with a tool for examining long-term effects and determining how to create or sustain more resilient teams. Taken together, these methods will provide further insight on whether the training audience is acquiring many of the skills and abilities necessary to spot, contact and report at-risk behaviors in others as well as in themselves.




About the Author:


Cognitive Performance Group, LLC is a woman-owned small business with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio. It was founded by Dr. Karol G. Ross, Jennifer K. Phillips, and William A. Ross. The three CPG Principals developed the concept for a company to support cognitive performance improvement in industry and government. (more...)

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