About features of decision making

A few weeks ago, I (the author of the article, Spencer Blue – approx. Transl.) Already spoke about the basics of the NORD behavioral cycle – Observation, Evaluation, Decision, Action – and how it can be applied by law-abiding armed citizens. But I then focused on inspection and evaluation, which, in the end, lead us to the need to decide something. And take stressful solutions – One of the most difficult tasks, which in general can appear before a person. In a critical situation, when it comes to life and death, there is a very acute shortage of time. After all, the brain is simultaneously busy solving a multitude of tasks, including the other stages of the NORD cycle.

In connection with the acute overload of brain activity, we, in order to be effective, have to quickly look through many different options of action in order to discard those of them who have the highest chance of “breaking off” and those that are too difficult to perform. And then you have to choose the first plan, which, most likely, will not break and which has the greatest chances for success. And with this “first acceptable plan”, the decision-making algorithm is modernly different than in a situation where we can afford to carefully consider the risks and consequences for developing a “better plan of action”. Fortunately, through training and education, we are able to create in our brain a “library of the best plans”, which we later use as the “first acceptable plan” when decisions have to take under stress.

Mental simulation

In a situation of acceptance stress stress solutions, one of the most effective “trump cards” for quick and precise action – pre-planning. There are several ways that will help create a base of such preliminary plans in the brain, including both training and personal experience, both direct and indirect, obtained by observing other people who are forced to solve a similar problem. And one of the ways that we can use every day without interrupting our routine activities – mental simulation.

Mental simulation – The essence of creating a scenario in which you need to achieve a certain goal by making various decisions. And the elaboration of these decisions. For this we use our knowledge and personal experience, which allows us to predict the results of each action – whether it will lead us to the goal or not. For example, you want to ask your boss for a raise. You will plan what to say, based on your knowledge of the character and personality of the boss, as well as plan which model of behavior will be more effective. You will try to imagine what questions the head will be able to ask you and begin to come up with the answers that are most likely to lead you to your goal – an increase. And if we also work out our actions in threatening situations, we will have the advantage of training in the form of several elaborated behavioral scenarios that will allow us to respond more quickly.

Before talking about the benefits mental simulation, consider first its potential disadvantages. If you have no real experience in the business that you are trying to model, your prediction is unlikely to be accurate. Most Americans (and not only them – a comment of the translator) are not used to the violent resolution of conflicts. They did not have the experience of a real adult fight, they did not become victims of violence and had no experience of interacting with really aggressive criminals. But they are trying to develop an action plan like “I just …”. Seriously, most of the plans for “I am just …” are based solely on fantasies and Hollywood films, and not on real knowledge of the behavior of criminals and the experience of aggressive clashes. Such plans are often universal, without any additional options. One of these “I just …” plans is to aim an unloaded pistol at the aggressor. “I will just aim at him and he will take it.” And what to do if you are not? And if you were hurt? Or already knocked to the ground and kicked? Adherents of the plans “I just …” rarely experience the first real conflict …

The most effective way to get real experience for an adequate mental simulation of situations – Special training on strength training and conflict, such as, for example, ECQC, conducted by Craig Douglas. As he says himself – “they cover the general principles of criminal behavior and actions when dealing with unknown persons. Plus solving conflicts by force, so the guys very quickly understand what works and what doesn’t. ”

After that, a certain experience can be obtained by watching videos of real attacks and fights, which can now be found in many places on the Internet. In addition to gaining real experience and training, this is a great way to identify potential shortcomings in your mental simulations and stop relying on “I just …” plans.

Second potential disadvantage mental simulation – to rely too much on one specific, albeit carefully thought out, plan and be unable to adapt when the real world shows that “this does not work that way”. One way to overcome this drawback is to create a backup plan in case of a breakdown of the main one. And not one. Normal workouts and courses on interaction in conflict situations, watching videos with real conflicts and crimes – all this will help you carefully plan your actions and identify potential shortcomings in your plans. And certainly weaning to rely on the plans “I just …”.

Subconscious decision making

Now consider why it is important to move the process of adoption making stressful situations as close as possible to the reflex and the subconscious. Our consciousness, “operational memory”, is extremely limited. Experts disagree, but, on average, from 5 to 7 different elements can fit in consciousness simultaneously. At the same time, the “element” is not the exact value of measurement – the size of each such “element” depends on experience, personal skills and other parameters.

Read this sequence of numbers and in 30 seconds try to reproduce it, even in random order: 1, 15, 97, 23, 63, 91, 54.

Now do the same with this sequence: 40, 9, 45, 357, 308, 762, 223.

I am ready to argue that it was easier with the second sequence. Yes. both contain 7 numbers each, but in the first 13 digits. and in the second – 17. However, the second sequence is directly related to firearms, that is, you already know these numbers. You can operate with a much larger amount of information if you pack its kind of “blocks”. For example, the numbers of the second sequence are perfectly packaged in a block of “widely used calibers of pistols or rifles.” But those who do not understand firearms at all – they will not receive such an advantage in memorizing these sequences. Simply put, through personal experience. You were able to pack new information into the unit, making it easier to remember.

We can do the same with tactics. action in stressful situations. If I have a preliminary plan in case of a robbery, while I refuel my car, then my entire list of reactions and actions can be tamped into a single unit. And I can use the freed-up RAM for direct assessment of the situation and verification of the efficiency of the plan. And if that – to adapt to the campaign of action (again, through the cycle “NORD”). I will be able to act faster and my reactions will not be psychologically overloaded.

To get all the benefits of mental modeling, try to use it in your daily activities. You stopped to refuel, and next to you suddenly slowed down another car – start the “What if …” reaction. What if the driver of this car comes up and starts to threaten, demanding money? What to do, that he continues to insist, even if I said that I do not carry cash with me? What if he gets a gun and tries to rob me? Then, if the car quietly drove on, and something else happened – the next stage, “What if …”. And even when the alleged aggressor just passes by – you are still one step ahead, because you have a plan. And if you regularly train like this, then you will have a large list of prepared blocks of action on virtually any situation.

Such a block should contain not only an action algorithm, but also a trigger for activating this algorithm. The fact is that the world around is constantly changing and the plans, accordingly, must adapt to this. But some key points remain unchanged. This is clearly seen in the example of first aid training. “If someone may have choked and begins to choke, ask if he needs help. If you need it, either the person is not able to answer you – conduct a Heimlich maneuver. ”In this situation, the Heimlich maneuver is an algorithm of behavior, packed in a simple block with a trigger, for those who know how to conduct it. They do not think about their actions – they just carry it out.

Decision points

So, how should such a unit look like for a self-defense situation? Let’s return to the situation with refueling. There are a number of triggers and key points that will influence your decision. You should evaluate the following points:

  • One aggressor or several aggressors
  • Demonstrating a weapon or swinging a weapon (to impress the victim and avoid the attention of outsiders, robbers often simply demonstrate that they have a gun, but do not reach it)
  • Firearm or piercing-cutting-crushing
  • The presence of shelter or any obstacles in the way of movement

So, consider the following scenario – one attacker who demonstrates a large knife in the belt, which is closer to the front of the car, while I am at the gas tank, closer to the passenger door.

The planned algorithm of action is to snatch a weapon and bring it to combat readiness. Cry out loud, “Get away! This man is trying to rob me! Call the police!”. This is to scare the aggressor and to attract the attention of others. Let everyone who hears me know that I am a victim. not a criminal. Try to create a distance. If he runs away – to hell with him. If he approaches or pulls out a weapon, shoot until the threat is stopped.

Now we will model these actions and try to find flaws and potential problems. If they come out with cold weapons against me, I will try to create a distance. But if I already started refilling my car, then what to do with the hose? If he is behind me, then, retreating, I can stumble and fall. This must be taken into account in the plan of action.

If a stranger tries to get closer to me, then you need to make sure that the hose is in front of me – this will create an additional barrier between us and will not prevent me from retreating. Well, how much easier is it to plan with a calm environment than under the threat of direct violence, when someone is already stepping on me with a knife?

It is possible to interrupt our opponent’s NORD algorithm at the “decision” stage, making its original plan impossible. The same situation:

  • After verbally drawing attention to the situation, the robber must decide whether to continue to act or run away, taking into account the awareness of witnesses and the possible challenge to the police.
  • After pulling out the weapon, the robber must decide whether the risk of an attack on an armed and ready victim is comparable to the possible profit in the form of the contents of a wallet or smartphone.
  • After withdrawing and using the hose or machine as a barrier, the burglar must reconsider his plan of action, taking into account new circumstances.

All this slows down the reaction of the robber and reduces his effectiveness if he decides to continue to act.

Action – end of cycle

The last stage of the cycle “NORD” – action – to bring your plan into execution. This is what most self-defense trainings teach – better to shoot, fight, give first aid. With this part, you, no doubt, are best acquainted. Just remember that the cycle needs to be repeated, because the reality is constantly changing as a result of your actions. It needs to be constantly examined, evaluated, and decided whether to continue to act in the same way or undertake something else.

Original article – Decision Making Under Stress

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