Cognitive Distortions During Law Enforcement Shooting

Marek Novy


Nine systematic studies examining law enforcement reactions during shooting accidents have been published. The research shows that during critical incidents the substantial majority of officers experience specific perceptual distortions. Most commonly experienced distortions are visual or aural. Most frequently reported visual distortion is a tunnel vision, which was present in roughly half of the cases. Altered subjective perception of time was found in all studies researching that problem. Distorted memory and dissociation was reported in more forms in particular studies. All studies used very similar methodology where most of the studies used mailed surveys or questionnaires. The sample size of systematic studies examining law enforcement reactions during the shootings is in majority of studies relatively small up to hundred subjects. All the published studies are on descriptive levels and are not connected with theoretical background. Other studies researched dissociation during critical law enforcement incidents. Future ways of cognitive distortions during the research of shooting incidents are discussed.

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