Can threat detection be enhanced using processing strategies by police trainees and officers?

TitleCan threat detection be enhanced using processing strategies by police trainees and officers?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuteursWilliot, A, Blanchette, I
JournalActa Psychol (Amst)
Date Published2018 Jun
KeywordsAdult, Attention, Cognition, Cues, Emotions, Female, Humans, Male, Photic Stimulation, Pilot Projects, Police, Reaction Time, Young Adult

The ability to detect threatening stimuli is an important skill for police officers. No research has yet examined whether implementing different information processing strategies can improve threat detection in police officers and police trainees. The first aim of our study was to compare the effect of strategies accentuating the processing of the emotional or the semantic dimension of stimuli on attention towards threatening and neutral information. The second aim was to consider the impact of PTSD symptoms on threat detection, as a function of processing strategies, in police officers and trainees. In a cueing paradigm, participants had to respond to a target that was presented following a threatening or neutral cue. Participants then answered a question, known beforehand, concerning the cue. The question was used to induce a more emotional or semantic processing strategy. Results showed that when the processing strategy was emotional, police trainees and officers were faster to detect the target when it followed a threatening cue, compared to a neutral cue, independently of its spatial location. This was not the case when the processing strategy was semantic. This study shows that induced processing strategies can influence attentional mechanisms related to threat detection in police trainees and police officers.

Alternate JournalActa Psychol (Amst)
PubMed ID29729440