Why Are Some People Targeted for Bullying or Violent Crime

Why Are Some People Targeted for Bullying or Violent Crime

Psychologists have known for years that human predators select their prey based on signals given off by their potential victims. In a matter of seconds, the predator acquires a sense of who is and isn’t a suitable target. For every victim that is attacked, many more are past over. Knowing how Bad Guys target victims will help your self defence. So, read on to understand how you can avoid being a target for  violence.

What does a Violent predator look for?

Like a wild animal, the human criminal predator wants an easy conquest. He does not want his job to be any more difficult or hazardous than it has to be. They seek those perceived as weak, submissive and unlikely to fight back. Criminal offenders don’t want resistance and he certainly doesn’t want to be injured himself. A sign of strength or defiance, whether blatant or implied, is often sufficient to cause him to abandon the predatory process and look for a more “cooperative” victim.

Bullies don’t pick fights with people who will pound them into the pavement! They won’t select people who will confront and challenge their behaviour. Rapists, muggers, abusers and bullies look for someone they can dominate and control. What we call soft targets. This means that you have to make yourself a hard Target in Self Defence.

The Grayson & Stein (1981) Study

In 1981 two researchers, Betty Grayson and Morris I. Stein conducted a study to determine the victim selection criteria applied by predators. They videotaped several pedestrians on a busy New York City sidewalk without their knowledge.

Later showed the tape to convicts who were incarcerated for violent offences. Then instructed them to identify people on the tape who would make easy or desirable victims. The results were interesting.

Within seven seconds, the participants made their selections. What baffled researchers was the consistency of the people that were selected as victims. The criteria were not readily apparent. Some small, slightly built women were passed over. Some large men were selected. The selection was not dependant on race, age, size or gender.

Even the convicts didn’t know exactly why they selected as they did. Some people just looked like easy targets. It appears that much of the predator/prey selection process is unconscious from the perspective of both predator and the potential victim. Video Analysis Still at a loss of specific selection criteria, the researches had a more thorough analysis of the movement and body language of the people on the videotape. Here is an overview of the results:

  1. Stride: People selected as victims had an exaggerated stride: either abnormally short or long. They dragged, shuffled or lifted their feet unnaturally as they walked. Non-victims, on the other hand, tended to have a smooth, natural gate. They stepped in a heel-to-toe fashion.
  2. Rate: Victims tend to walk at a different rate than non-victims. Usually, they walk slower than the flow of pedestrian traffic. Their movement lacks a sense of deliberateness or purpose. However, an unnaturally rapid pace can project nervousness or fear.
  3. Fluidity: Researchers noted awkwardness in a victim’s body movement. Jerkiness, raising and lowering one’s centre of gravity or wavering from side to side as they moved became apparent in the victims analysed. This was contrasted with smoother, more coordinated movement of the non-victims.
  4. Wholeness: Victims lacked “wholeness” in their body movement. They swung their arms as if they were detached and independent from the rest of their body. Non-victims moved their body from their “centre” as a coordinated whole implying strength, balance and confidence.
  5. Posture and Gaze: A slumped posture is indicative of weakness or submissiveness. A downward gaze implies preoccupation and being unaware of one’s surroundings. Also, someone reluctant to establish eye contact can be perceived as submissive. These traits imply an ideal target for a predator.

In his book, “The Danger From Strangers,” author James D. Brewer quotes one of the researchers who conducted the above mentioned study, “Grayson is convinced that when people understand how to move confidently they can, ‘be taught how to walk that way and substantially reduce their risk of assault'”.

The Take Away for Self Defence?

The take away is that your self defence ability does not always come down to your ability to fight. Firstly you should try not to be selected as a victim or target of a violence. Secondly, you should always present an impression of being a hard target when considering how to defend yourself.

Thank you for reading.


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