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March 30, 2012

Finding Dominant Behavior

As we look at our environment and all of the people surrounding us, we need to be capable of quickly and accurately classifying their behavior into at least one of our 6 primary clusters.

In this video, the punk kid is doing everything he can to posture and hopefully intimidate the guy in the black shirt into submission.  Posturing falls into the Dominance Cluster and can be identified by making yourself look larger, taking up more space around you, and demonstrating ownership (or territoriality) over nearby objects.

The kid in this video shows a number of Dominant characteristics:

March 21, 2012

From The Horse’s Mouth – A Conversation With Joe Navarro

Recently I got to have a short conversation with Joe Navarro, author of What Every Body Is Saying, which you will find at the top of our recommended reading list.  Whenever possible, we want to put you in touch with information direct from the experts in their field to give you unfiltered information and there are a couple things from the conversation that I wanted to pass on to you. 

March 13, 2012

Finding Valid Information – How Profiling Can Assist Census Operations

I was reading a blog post on the Marine Corps Gazette site last week (the link to the post is embedded in the image) that was written about the difficulty Marines have while gathering census data while deployed.  The challenge is simple to understand because there can be a significant financial reward to local villagers who can successfully convince Marines that funding their cause is in our best interest.

“A single consistency I could draw from the book was that any Afghan in a position of power saw the international community as a source of income for their own patronage networks. Village chiefs, businessmen, and ambitious young men all told different stories to various aid agencies and organizations to direct the flow of aid money.”  – Joe Davidoski (author of blog post) (blog link)

So how can understanding profiling and understanding human behavior help Marines who are responsible for gathering information from local villagers?

March 9, 2012

Ending A Speech With The “Steeple Gesture” – And Killing It

In February of 2004 Malcolm Gladwell, gave an 18-minute speech on spaghetti sauce at a TED Conference that blew away the audience and then went viral on the web.  We know that non-verbal communication plays a huge role in delivering a break-through performance, but what did Malcolm Gladwell do that separated him from the other speakers?  It was only partly because he impressed them verbally with a well researched and thought out delivery, but can also be seen in how he ends his speech.

March 7, 2012

A Look At Pacifying Behaviors – Uncovering Uncomfortable People

Everyone gets nervous from time to time. It is an unavoidable fact of life that there will be moments when you feel uneasy or anxious.  However, finding the person that is nervous is only half of the battle. It is making the determination whether that behavior fits the baseline or not that is the real challenge.

If you look at the person in this picture with the green circle around him, you will see one way to find people who are acting uncomfortably.  By identifying pacifying behavior, we can gain a bit of insight into the mind of those we are watching, and begin to determine why this guy is displaying pacifying behavior.

First, let’s establish the context for this picture, because a picture is only one moment in time and doesn’t always reflect the true situation.

February 23, 2012

It Was How Big? – Understanding the Expression of Surprise

While overhearing a question like that will probably make for a great eavesdropping experience, that isn’t the type of surprise we are talking about.  We are not surprised when something unfolds slowly in front of us, for surprise to be real “It must be sudden, and we must be unprepared” (Ekman, Emotions Revealed, 149).  What separates this emotion from the others that we have talked about, is that it only stays on the face for an extremely short amount of time, usually no more than a couple seconds at most.

February 16, 2012

Is Your Marriage Going to Last? – Understanding the Expression of Contempt










In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink, he talks about research done by John Gottman, a man who could, after watching just a three-minute video clip of a newly married couple, determine if their marriage would last or not.  His success rate was staggering.  After spending years conducting marriage counseling and research, his success in predicting success in marriage came down to his ability to recognize the emotion of contempt during conversations with the couple.

But what is contempt?  When you feel morally superior to someone, you feel contempt towards them.  When a person does something, says something, or their physical presence is offensive to you, but not in the same way as disgust, you are feeling contempt. 

January 24, 2012

A Look That Could Kill – Understanding the Expression of Anger

Think about something or someone that has angered you recently.  It may be a coworker that annoys you, it may be a company’s customer service rep that you had to deal with on the phone, it may have been a person standing in front of you in line and, despite the ten minutes it took to get to the counter, they still didn’t know what they wanted to order.  Often times your anger towards the person after the fact or after the event has ended and you replay the scene over and over in your head, each time you re-imagine it, your anger towards the person deepens.  You are probably thinking about what you should have said to them or what you would say to them if you were in that situation again.

You don’t even need to be at the scene that initially caused your anger, but you can recreate that emotion in your head at any time and it is likely causing the expression of anger to be displayed across your face.

Anger is one of the 7 Universal Emotions that Dr. Paul Ekman identified through his research that began in the 1950’s.  If you think about anger in your daily life, you may have seen it before in arguments between people and regardless of the type of disagreement; you have often seen it during or preceding fights.  For Marines while we are deployed, a fight can mean getting shot at, finding an IED in the road, having a suicide bomber walk up to us, or being called to a riot that is forming.  For the military and police, fights and anger can have very serious implications and that make anger necessary to understand.

January 9, 2012

Who Ripped One? Understanding The Expression of Disgust.

Look at a person who is near you right now and imagine that they just ripped a loud fart that you brings words like “horrendous” or “revolting” to your mind.  I’m talking about the kind of fart that is so repulsive that it could clear the room,  the kind of fart that turns your stomach just a little bit.  As you look at that person and judge what kind of person they are, I want you to freeze your face and notice the facial muscles that have been engaged in response to the event.

January 5, 2012

Is That What Your Face Always Looks Like?

Everything starts with a baseline.  Over the next two weeks, there will be a post on each of the 7 Universal Emotions that were identified by Paul Ekman and since confirmed by a number of different researchers from both within the government as well as independent scientists. However if you don’t first establish a working baseline for a person, you will never be able to recognize changes in the facial expressions of those around you.

To keep this simple, we are going to divide the face into three separate and distinct areas that we will use to break down and establish a baseline for each person we are observing.  We will look at the upper, middle and lower portions of the face.

December 13, 2011

Is the Face Worth Studying?

Over the next few weeks, you are going to see a number of posts here on the site that are focused on furthering our understanding of the human face and what if can offer us as Profilers. For a long time in our course, we only provided a minimal amount of information about what the face reveals due to the fact there are some serious limitations involved in this study that we had to take into consideration.

1. To observe someone’s face, you usually have to be pretty close to the person, going against our principle that “Proximity Negates Skill.” Whenever possible, we advise students to observe an area or a group of people with as much standoff as possible to limit the potential threats that are out there. The closer we have to be in order to recognize someone who plans on doing harm to us, the less skill he needs to actually inflict that harm.

2.Often times true expressions are displayed on the face in what are referred to as micro-expressions. As the name implies, micro-expressions are only displayed on the face for only an extremely short amount of time. Paul Ekman identifies micro-expressions as those that last less than 1/5 of a second (Emotions Revealed, page 15). Without having any video playback capability on patrol, it can be difficult to identify these expressions in real time, limiting our ability to apply any instruction or information we may gain from learning about the face.

Even with these limitations, the face can offer a great deal of information that will help us make better decisions and become more proactive in the face of our enemies.

Jason A. Riley

November 24, 2011

Behavioral Profiling on a Daily Basis

I was recently in San Francisco for an academic conference. Hundreds of book publishing companies come to the conference to sell their most recent publications related to the various fields of study connected to the conference. Because the publishing companies and reps are there, this means two main opportunities for students and scholars: buy books at a discount and pitch ideas to publishers for their next book. Well, I just so happened to be sitting at a table by myself, minding my own business, when an aspiring scholar and a book representative sat down to talk. From the get-go, it was apparent that the scholar was attempting to pitch an idea to the publishing representative. And, from the get-go, it was also apparent that he was headed for rejection, and possibly disaster.