The detection of people carrying concealed firearms, via CCTV: do their emotions give them away?

Illegal gun possession is an increasing problem in the UK; at the same time the UK has a massive CCTV deployment. Individuals can detect the emotional state of people shown in image sequences. Additionally, firearms are known to elicit certain emotional states in their bearers. Consequently, it may be possible for CCTV operators to determine if surveillance targets are carrying a concealed firearm on the basis of the target s emotional state. This study investigated whether observers are able to perceive differences in the emotional states of people who are and who are not carrying concealed firearms, as judged monitoring staged CCTV footage. Thirty-one participants viewed 24 mock CCTV clips of individuals walking. Half of the clips featured a concealed firearm, the other half featured a concealed, innocuous object. The results showed that observers were able to differentiate between the two clip types by attributing different moods to those featured in each. However, their estimation of mood was dissimilar to the mood reported by those featured in the clips. Furthermore, observers non-verbal sensitivity and their ability to recognize the mood of carriers showed little relationship. These issues are discussed with regard to the visual cues associated with this mood recognition task.