Ah, the age-old phrase “the clothes make the man.” The premise of this phrase is the notion that you can dress a certain way in order to transform yourself into something. For instance, if you want to be seen as someone who knows what they are doing at the gym, you would wear gym clothes. If you have a big job interview, you would put on a nice suit that’s been tailored and dry cleaned for the occasion. The clothes, in these examples, can help you fit in with the established expectation for whatever it is you are undertaking. In behavioral analysis, the clothes are an active choice, not uncontrollable human behaviors, and should therefore not be used to make decisions on their own. Clothing can be a distraction during the observation process and should only be included in your description, after you make your observations, not as sole indicators to base decisions off of.
In the work that we do at The CP Journal, we are often asked to consult on observational processes and behavior pattern recognition with businesses and organizations both within the United States and internationally. One of the benefits of taking a behavioral analysis approach to observation and recognition is that you can use our methodology and principles of universal signs of human behavior anywhere in the world, as long as there are people. And people, all around the world, dress differently. This doesn’t mean that we can’t observe and identify anomalies based in part on clothing. However, whether I am wearing a bathing suit or tuxedo, dominance is dominance and comfortable is comfortable. The clothing may change, but the behaviors do not.
There are many differences between controllable and uncontrollable human behaviors. It may seem basic, but this distinction can cause a lot of problems when observing, reporting, and operating all over the world. The way the body responds to an environment or incident is an uncontrollable human action. If you are sitting on a crowded bus, reading a book, and a person walks up to you with a knife in their hand, your immediate response will most likely be an uncontrollable human reaction. The shirt and hat that you are wearing at the time, however, is a controllable behavior that you thought about in the morning when you put it on. At the most basic level, this is why uncontrollable actions matter. Uncontrollable behaviors are the body’s natural responses to what is happening around you and not something that you can dictate. They are universal.
This is important because, when focusing observations on uncontrollable behaviors, you decrease your margin for error, which should lead to fewer false positives. It is also important because, by focusing on the uncontrollable human behavior actions, you protect yourself from your inherent biases and mitigate the risk of improper and inaccurate profiling, if you identify the universal signs of human behavior properly. For instance, let’s say you are in your neighborhood and see a person that does not fit the baseline. The baseline for individuals that walk down your street is comfortable, based on your experience living on the block and the large sample size of individuals that you have seen walking down the street since you have lived there. The person that you see walking down the street is displaying elements of the uncomfortable cluster. They are rotating their head left and right, their torso is not pointed in the consistent direction in which they are walking, and they are stopping and starting to walk over and over again, constantly changing direction. This person is displaying elements of discomfort against a baseline of comfort, and they are exhibiting it through uncontrollable signs of human behavior. The clothing this person is wearing doesn’t matter because their body is telling you all you need to know.
In this example, most of our clients and partners would say that using the universal elements of human behavior, instead of clothing, is a more effective way to observe and report human behavior and observation. By using the universal language that we teach in our Tactical Analysis courses, you can apply the concepts to any person anywhere in the world. You can train people of any age and experience to use a common language to observe and explain human behavior in any setting. The process can be repeated over and over again and is accurate regardless of clothing choices.
We would be remiss to claim that clothing doesn’t hold any weight when we are talking about the description phase of the observation process. During the description phase, clothing does come into play, but only to provide a physical description, and nothing more. The behaviors are the crucial elements that need to be used to determine the action to take, and then, once that decision has been made, your physical description becomes necessary.
Clothing can be a distraction during the observational process. By looking past clothing choices and focusing instead on the uncontrollable elements of the human behavior that exist for every person, anywhere in the world, you will be more likely to make more informed decisions as they relate to human behavior.
As always, we continue to hear from clients and partners that want our help in building or enhancing their observational processes. If you have questions or want our help, e-mail anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.