THE EFFECTS OF HYPERVIGILANCE ON DECISION-MAKING DURING CRITICAL INCIDENTS
Junger, Paul M.
McGuire, Mollie R.
Fernandez, Lauren S.
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While law enforcement defines the term "hypervigilance" in its training and operations to describe awareness of a potentially dangerous situation, research describes hypervigilance as a state of panic that often results in regrettable decision-making. The disconnect between academic conceptualization and the applied use of hypervigilance results in a lack of understanding in police contexts, a deficit of what accounts for the phenomenon, and a deficiency in mitigation. This thesis breaks hypervigilance into its three relevant constructs: anxiety, fear, and acute stress, and examines interrelated effects on critical incident decision-making by conducting a rigorous literature review of each field. Current training, through repetition, builds false expertise by automating responses without applying rational thought. Changing law enforcement’s training curriculum to one that is built on cognitive conditioning through exposure training may enable better, more efficient intuitive decisions that are grounded in relevant experience and expertise. This thesis suggests a transformation in law enforcement training as a foundation to optimize intuitive decision-making in critical incident situations.
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