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The Ugly Side of Proxemic Pulls

When we talked about our observations of Proxemic Pulls in yesterday’s post and the high degree of confidence we can get from identifying this dynamic, we mentioned that there are some significant exceptions to this rule.  While most of the time the Proxemic Pull will be associated with “liking” and “attraction” there will be times when a person is drawn to you with the intent to harm you.

If someone approaches you in anger, gesturing aggressively and shouting at you, he is not being drawn to you for positive reasons.  One element of the Proxemic Pull is that there is no threat perceived and the body is not preparing for fight or flight, which would not be the case in these instances.  This can even be identified without being physically approached, but in situations where you are being stared down.  Gazing and looking at someone can be considered “an approach” of sorts so, when you’re being looked at with glaring[1] eyes, it can also be seen as a Proxemic Pull with a negative intent.

In a previous post about the Anger expression, we mentioned that reading facial emotions could be one way to determine who is approaching you with the goal of hurting you.  While that is absolutely true, there can other indicators as well that could alert you to a threat.  Biometric cues such as the reddening or blushing of the face, shaking of the hands, heavy breathing (through the mouth or flared nostrils,) and licking of the lips could let you know that the limbic system is preparing the body to fight.  Kinesic indicators such as posturing, clenched fists, pointing, chin trust forward, and other behavior that could intimidate a person into backing down may apply here.

The goal is to understand your baseline and quickly identify when a person doesn’t fit in.  A situation like this comes into play when everyone approaching you is doing so for good reasons (like kids running up to a patrol excitedly) and you are searching for anyone who is behaving differently from the crowd.  Situations like this will be much more difficult for you to identify than large scale demonstrations like a riot, where an entire crowd of people is approaching you, all showing indicators with a negative intent.

Most of the time the Proxemic Pull will be used in situations where a person is approaching someone or something because they like it and do not feel threatened.  Because our enemy is trying to hide in plain sight, they may use the Proxemic Pull as a method to conceal their activity.  Understanding the causes and the indicators for both situations will allow you to identify these people when their behavior doesn’t fit the baseline.


[1] While a “glare” may not seem like a science-backed observation, research done by Paul Ekman has identified that a “glaring look” is actually accomplished by activation in muscles around your eyes, tightening the eye-lids.

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