September 27, 2023

A brand new examine reveals that organized crime members have a nostril for worry, or at the very least a eager eye for fearful facial expressions.

New analysis from Italy’s College of Pavia has discovered that members of organized crime teams have a heightened capability to acknowledge worry in others.

The study, printed on February 1 within the journal Cognition and Emotion, means that emotion recognition talents could also be strategically utilized by organized crime members to realize their illicit objectives.

It additionally supplies new perception into the emotional expertise obligatory for these in organized crime to exert management and keep energy over their territories and friends.

Testing the worry face behind bars

The examine was performed in two Italian penitentiaries. The contributors had been all males, native or extremely proficient Italian audio system, who had no historical past of neurological or psychiatric problems.

The 100 prisoners within the examine had been divided into two teams: one group of fifty organized crime offenders, and one other group of fifty non-organized crime offenders. A management group of fifty non-offenders was additionally included.

Knowledgeable consent was obtained from all contributors, and so they had been assessed for cognitive functioning, reasoning capability, nervousness, despair, and psychopathic traits.

The Emotion Recognition Task (ERT) was used to evaluate the contributors’ capability to acknowledge facial expressions of emotion. This activity consists of a sequence of photos of faces displaying completely different feelings, and the contributors are requested to establish the emotion being expressed. The feelings examined embody worry, happiness, and disgust.


The outcomes confirmed that organized crime offenders had been higher in a position to acknowledge fearful facial expressions than non-organized crime offenders and non-offenders.

How a lot better? For each one-unit improve in worry recognition scores, the percentages of belonging to the OC group elevated by an element of 5.

The examine additionally discovered that the outcomes weren’t influenced by nervousness, despair, or psychopathic traits.

Why are organized crime members higher at recognizing a fearful face?

The researchers counsel that OC members might have specific emotional competencies to exert energy over focused people to regulate territories and acquire respect of their group.

For instance, OC members could use their heightened capability to acknowledge fearful facial expressions to intimidate others by way of the precise or potential use of threats and violence.

This, in flip, could enable them to realize respect and set up hierarchies of energy inside the OC group.

Limitations and future instructions

This examine has some limitations. For instance, the outcomes is probably not generalizable to different OC teams, as there are several types of mafias on the planet, such because the Chinese language and Russian mafias and the Mexican cartel, whose inner cultures and social organizations differ from each other.

Likewise, the examine didn’t assess the power to acknowledge different feelings, comparable to happiness and disgust, which is also essential for social interactions.

This examine provides to the rising physique of analysis on the emotional intelligence of criminals, and presents a glimpse into the abilities that could be utilized by organized crime members to realize their objectives.

So, the following time you come face-to-face with a member of the mafia, beware: they may simply be studying your feelings like against the law novel.

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