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DE-ESCALATE: The Neuroscience of Threat

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Understand Threat to Improve Social Interactions

If we detect a threat – whether real or perceived – the brain enters a state of heightened alertness to prepare us to react and adapt. What we often don’t realize is that social threats can be as distressing as physical danger.

We experience threats at three levels of intensity. Understanding how each level affects our perception and behavior helps us be better at reducing emotional reactivity in both ourselves and others.


The SCARF® Model

There are five domains in which human beings are most likely to experience social threat and rewards. The SCARF® Model describes the five primary categories of threat and reward that occur during social interaction.

Status — Am I respected?

Certainty — Do I have enough information?

Autonomy — Do I have a choice?

Relatedness — Do I belong?

Fairness — Is this fair?

To prevent escalation from occurring, it’s important to keep ourselves and others at a Level 1 threat. We do this by identifying ways to deliberately decrease the chance of a threat response building up throughout the interaction. One way to offset threats in each of these social domains is to communicate in a scientifically-designed way that mitigates the threat response.

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DE-ESCALATE: The Neuroscience of Threat

We invest time in understanding your needs and policies up-front, then work closely with your team to develop and deliver the appropriate de-escalation training solution. We’ll help you find the best way to integrate a custom solution into your training procedures, and support you in maintaining and evolving this solution as your policies, challenges, and communities inevitably change over time.

We don’t just sell equipment; we partner with agencies and their instructors to develop cognitive tools for modern police training and cultural awareness.




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DE-ESCALATE: The Neuroscience of Threat