Friendly Fire: The Psychology Behind it

 Friendly fire is a situation in which an individual soldier or troop mistakenly attack friendly force in an attempt to attack the enemy
 In the light of signal detection theory, for a friendly fire to occur, the individual must make a judgment whether the sensory experience he/she is exposed to is due to background noise alone or to the background noise plus a signal in order to determine whether  the faint target(friendly forces) is an enemy or not. For the individual/troops to make this judgment, it is the function of two things which are;
1.       Their perceptual sensitivity
2.       Their decision criteria

Perceptual sensitivity: perceptual sensitivity is an organism’s ability to detect a signal, this encompasses how well or fine their sight and hearing are in order for them to differentiate an enemy troop from their own troop.
Decision criteria: as much as their perceptual sensitivity will be affected by distance and other factors, they need decision criteria- an organism’s rule for how much evidence it needs before responding. Therefore a soldier might engage a rule of decision that, when in doubt and not sure/certain of sensory information reaching you, ‘shoot to kill’ in other to be on the safer sides, as it might be an enemy troop and if you fail to shoot you will definitely get shot.
                More so, such a type of decision criteria discussed above is associated with a high payoff matrix; the pattern of benefits and cost associated with certain types of responses, in this case survival.

Perceptual illusion and selective attention perception
                Another thing that could be responsible for friendly fire is perceptual illusion. According to Bankole 2014, our perception is very accurate but it is not perfect. Illusion occurs when the perceptual processes that normally help us to correctly perceive the world around us are fooled by a particular situation that can fool an individual perceptual processes in the case of friendly fire includes fog, smoke, heavy sounds form explosion, and even our emotional states as noted by Tope Bankole 2014, he said our emotion, mindset, expectations, and the context in which our sensation occurs all have a profound influence on perception. Read More
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