Implications of The Invisible Gorilla


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Presentation by John Fetterman and L. Daniel Maxim at the NASBLA Conference, September 2011.

Implications of the Invisible Gorilla and related research
Importance in LE and investigation context
Literature samples and teasers
The way forward

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  • “It is against state policy to pave over a deer,” said . . . an engineer for the department. “If in fact the deer was in the work area, it should have been removed before the work was done.” —Associated Press, August 22, 1996, reporting on road workers who failed to see and thus paved over a dead deer. Can the marine law enforcement officer fall victim to missing an obvious contributing factor in a boat accident investigation? -- PerhapsPeople fail to notice things all the time, even when there are no obvious factors hampering their vision. Inattentional blindness is a striking phenomenon in which people fail to notice stimuli appearing in front of their eyes when they are preoccupied with an attentionally demanding task. Unfortunately, the results can also be tragic. In 2000, for example, an American naval submarine rammed a Japanese fishing vessel, killing 9 Japanese crew members and students on board. According to one account, despite a quick sweep with the periscope, the commander failed to notice the fishing trawler nearby .Can a marine law enforcement officer be distracted by inattentional blindness and not see the real threat? – Perhaps a fatal threat.   
  • Every law enforcement officer during basic training is exposed to and taught skills related to Situational Awareness.Do drills such as; Accident Investigation, Active Shooter and Felony Stop and Arrest training go far enough to train you to see what your mind may not.How do you avoid tunnel vision on the road and on the water when events and the outside stimuli have you focused on what you perceive to be the primary element .
  • Most - law enforcement agencies in high volume areas team two officers to work together – much like a two pilot cockpit.Under such a structure we are trained to work together – while one officer administers a stop or inspection – the other officer is trained to maintain Situational Awareness – or is that really how it works?In our world it is a rare occasion that we work with another officer – many vehicle and boat patrols for the conservation law enforcement officer are conducted alone.
  • From many years and thousands of hours of single pilot operations – I learned skills not taught in basic flight training – but in more advanced training and a few near misses involving sensory overload – I learned how to manage and be prepared for the unexpected:Pre-planning – planning for the unexpected – pre-programmingOrganization – is it within arms reach?3. Escape plan – sounds funny but every pilot has an escape plan; a. Weather forecast was wrong – it’s OK to change the plan b. If the weather is too bad at an expected destination – it’s OK to go to another airport b. Controller gives you bad information - it’s OK to question4. Workload – how do I manage the amount of input to allow for the Invisible Gorilla?
  • As we approach 2012 and the further development of NASBLA’s BOAT Program – I hope that we will address some of the lessons we will discuss today and how to incorporate them into multiple areas of professional training for the maritime law enforcement officer – for the Agency managers and the recreational boating public.
  • Next year NASBLA is unveiling a new course designed by Karen Muench, (OH) on Officer survival. It’s about water training and how to survive and if necessary – take the fight to the water and win.I suggest that we also have the opportunity and the expertise to identify and design mitigation strategies to help the officer on the water manage and avoid inattentional blindness and maintain situational awareness.
  • What happens to us over time --- do we lose the “street smart” survival we learned in basic – does our job change – or are we changed by the day to day reality of the job?Over the span of our careers and as we move farther away from our BASIC Training – other factors seem to influence our behavior as law enforcement officers on the water -- the majority of our interaction with the public is positive, after all aren’t we seeking voluntary compliance in the RBS community. Day after day we check boaters and fishermen and -- would you say you followed basic officer safety rules – Everytime? How many bad habits have you developed?Tell: Rene Cloutier story – “saved by a recruit”
  • Are we not prepared – or did we just not see it?
  • Honesty – doesn’t this sound familiar?
  • Here is a Navy Safety Center view of the Heinrich’s work in the 1930s. In this depiction, fatalities are relatively infrequent compared to unsafe acts. While many debate the specific numbers used in this depiction, all agree that unsafe acts are very many times more numerous than fatalities. It’s one reason why experience may be misleading. You can “get away” with many unsafe acts before “your number comes up.” Experience is certainly valuable, but may not teach us the key lessons. In the LE context it means that officers may have avoided fatal consequences even though they did not do things by the book. Unsafe acts without adverse consequence may lead to complacency.
  • Implications of The Invisible Gorilla

    1. 1. Implications of the Invisible Gorilla<br />John Fetterman and L. Daniel Maxim<br />
    2. 2. Outline of presentation<br />Implications of the Invisible Gorilla and related research<br />Importance in LE and investigation context<br />Literature samples and teasers<br />The way forward<br />2<br />
    3. 3. The Invisible Gorilla<br />Contents of the book (and the seminal experiments conducted by the authors) interesting and revealing in terms of knowledge of the fallibility of our perceptions<br />Experiments humorous and (to many) the results unexpected<br />But the lecture was far more than entertaining—some implications are covered here<br />3<br />
    4. 4. The Gorilla and related experiments<br />Help us understand “inattentional blindness” and “change blindness”<br />Results have important implications for need for situational awareness (SA) in several fields including<br />Accident causation and role of human factors<br />Need for high levels of SA for safety of law enforcement officers<br />Let’s capitalize on this knowledge!<br />4<br />
    5. 5. One example: two pilot cockpits<br />NASA studies of “heads up” displays in cockpits indicated that pilots could fail to spot aircraft on active runway—not because of display (designed to be an improvement) but because of pilot’s inattentional blindness and focus on flying the aircraft<br />5<br />
    6. 6. Two pilot cockpits<br />Scheduled airliners typically use two pilots:<br />The flying pilot (FP) who focuses on reading the gauges and manipulating the controls<br />The non-flying pilot (NFP) who handles communications, reads checklists, programs the flight computer, and monitors the “big picture”<br />The NFP maintains a lookout for invisible Gorillas<br />6<br />
    7. 7. But what about single pilot operations?<br />The invisible Gorilla offers lessons here as well<br />Don’t let task load increase the likelihood of inattentional blindness—manage workload<br />Identify the key Gorillas (e.g., runway incursions, distractions) as key things that “need to be seen:” include in training<br />Use multiple inputs (e.g., communications) to develop accurate situational awareness<br />7<br />
    8. 8. The invisible Gorilla<br />Vividly highlights the importance of maintaining SA<br />SA can be learned!<br />Identifying key elements of information necessary to maintain the big picture<br />Identifying barriers to good SA<br />Tips to identify when SA has been lost and ways to regain SA<br />8<br />
    9. 9. Uses of this research for NASBLA<br />Helping to develop an improved understanding of recreational boating accidents (why, not what or how explanations): findings also have implications for<br />Accident investigation,<br />LE training, and<br />Design of improved training content for recreational boaters<br />9<br />
    10. 10. This breakout session addresses<br />Importance of this topic for training of LE personnel<br />Opportunities for NASBLA to develop improved training for LE personnel<br />Better SA<br />Limitations of eyewitness testimony<br />Investigation biases <br />Concepts explored in following slides<br />10<br />
    11. 11. Importance in le context<br />11<br />
    12. 12. Perception literature implications<br />Need to improve SA of LE personnel for increased safety and efficiency<br />Need to understand limitations of self awareness<br />Need to understand limitations of memory and eyewitness testimony and ways to correct for these<br />12<br />
    13. 13. Relevant factoids<br />Each year approximately 50 LE officers murdered and another 50 killed in line of duty<br />Each year approximately 60,000 assaulted in line of duty<br />Surprising facts about victims<br />Not rookies<br />Often killed because of lack of SA<br />Victims often overestimate ability to read cues<br />13<br />
    14. 14. It’s not just rookies (FBI data)<br />14<br />Average age of victims 38 years<br />
    15. 15. In nearly half of the deaths the officer did not attempt to use own weapon<br />15<br />
    16. 16. Violent Encounters<br />Study (2006) by Pinizzotto, Davis, and Miller (USDOJ, FBI, National Institute of Justice), hereinafter “PDM”<br />Designed to identify ways to improve safety-training techniques<br />Identified perceptual distortions associated with violent encounters and implications for safety training<br />16<br />
    17. 17. Officer characteristics (PDM)<br />Hard working,<br />Friendly and well liked,<br />Failed to follow all the rules, especially in regard to arrests, confrontations with prisoners, traffic stops, and waiting for backup, and<br />Felt that they could “read” others/situations and dropped their guard as a result<br />17<br />
    18. 18. Literature samples<br />18<br />
    19. 19. The psychology/human factors literature is worth studying<br />The literature offers important insights into human behavior/perceptions and options for improvement<br />Iceberg models<br />SA developments<br />Modern research into memory limitations<br />Biases in investigation<br />Some examples shown following<br />19<br />
    20. 20. 20<br />Heinrich ratio: Iceberg model<br />Fatal Accident 1<br />Non-fatal accidents 10<br />Reportable incidents 30<br />Unsafe acts 600<br />20<br />
    21. 21. Dunning-Kruger effect<br />21<br />
    22. 22. Situational awareness<br />22<br />
    23. 23. SA literature<br />Extensive literature on SA, determinants of SA, and ways to increase SA<br />Applications in aviation, marine, medicine, LE, and various industries (e.g., nuclear power plants)<br />23<br />
    24. 24. SA literature<br />Extremely varied literature<br />Barriers to SA now understood (e.g., workload, time pressures, communications, distractions, fatigue)<br />Training techniques developed for improved SA<br />24<br />
    25. 25. We know more about memory<br />We know much more about memory and limitations (errors of commission and omission)<br />Are vivid “flashbulb” memories reliable?<br />25<br />
    26. 26. We know more about memory<br />We know much more about the accuracy of eyewitness testimony, biases, and ways to compensate<br />Are confident witnesses more reliable?<br />26<br />
    27. 27. We know much more about biases<br />27<br />
    28. 28. Confirmation bias<br />28<br />
    29. 29. The way forward<br />29<br />
    30. 30. Opportunity<br />Now is an opportune time to put together a course for investigators and LE personnel<br />Course would distill the relevant literature and show how this has practical applications for NASBLA (and other LE) personnel<br />30<br />
    31. 31. Pilot 8-hour course<br />Well grounded in literature<br />Excellent videos and handout materials<br />Taught by professionals in various fields<br />Lead instructors, John Fetterman and Dr. L. Daniel Maxim (in view of DK effect they don’t claim to be competent!)<br />Pilot version (beta test) could be put together in four-six months<br />31<br />
    32. 32. Next steps<br />Form working group (NASBLA, USCG) to be used as “sounding board” or oversight panel<br />Write grant application to cover course development and initial presentation<br />Consult with others (e.g., DOJ) who might participate as guest lecturers<br />Develop and present course<br />Write “after action” report<br />32<br />
    33. 33. Questions, comments, time for a<br />33<br />BREAK!<br />33<br />
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