Normalcy Bias & How It Tries To Kill You

There's a term in psychology called "Normalcy Bias" and it tries to kill each and every one of us.  Normalcy Bias is a cognitive bias - which means it resides in our minds - that can seriously decrease your chances of surviving a life & death moment.  Whether it be a natural disaster or an active shooter, Normalcy Bias strikes at the worst possible moment - at the onset of a crisis or critically violent event.

How does Normalcy Bias happen?  Unfortunately it builds up inside our minds with the passing of every "normal" experience we've ever had, thus causing our brains to play tricks on us - by inaccurately assessing or irrationally dismissing threats - in the face of obvious and imminent danger.

A Recent Example of Normalcy Bias

When: Monday, April 24, 2022, around 8:45 PM

Where: Pepperhill Park in North Charleston, SC

What: Gunfire erupts adjacent to a little league baseball game

Examples of Normalcy Bias:

  1. DELAYED RESPONSE - Once gunfire begins, about 5 seconds pass before anyone on camera reacts
  2. RATIONALIZATION - About 9 seconds into the video you can hear a women off camera say "Are those fireworks?!"

How Can You Prevent Normalcy Bias?

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Normalcy Bias is best defeated through stress innoculation. Stress innoculation is simply the process of repeated and controlled exposures to moderately stressful situations that, over time, condition an individual to correctly and efficiently exhibit a desired response.  As it relates to violent events like active shooter situations, stress inoculation can be achieved through proper training.  Believe it or not, seeing and hearing gunfire (in a safe and controlled environment) is a form of stress inoculation.  For example, if everyone at the little league game from the video above was already familiar with the sound of gunshots AND had been properly trained to respond to an active shooter situation, their assessment of the situation and response to the gunshots would have been quicker and more decisive.

Another way to combat Normalcy Bias is through a tactic we teach called "Active Planning."  Active planning is one component of a larger concept we all know as situational awareness and it involves continually assessing all relevant factors that will influence your response in a violent event and creating contingency plans based on that data.

Talk to Trident Shield about our Active Shooter Readiness Training and be ready for whatever life throws at you.

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