72 Police J. 161 (1999)
Towards a Psychology of Surveillance

handle is hein.journals/policejl72 and id is 165 raw text is: MAXWELL TAYLOR, BA, PhD, C.Foren. Psych.
Professor, University College Cork, Ireland
Head of Department Applied Psychology, University College
Cork, Ireland
Department of Applied Psychology, University College Cork,
Blendability, the ability of a surveillant to fit in with others in the
environment whilst simultaneously and covertly gathering intelligence
on the activities of a target, is vital to the success of a surveillance
operation. It is suggested that the Attentional Engagement Theory,
stressing the importance of similarity relations, provides an ample
framework based on scientific findings, to initiate systematic research
into the factors effecting blendability. Such a theory does not lend
insight into surveillance practices but rather provides a base upon
which systematic research into factors effecting blendability can be
conducted. Such results would be valuable for surveillance personnel in
areas of selection and training.
Physical surveillance is defined as the direct visual observation of
persons, vehicles, or activity taking place at some given location for the
purpose of obtaining information regarding the identity and activities of
persons.' Generally, such observation is covert and success is
dependent on the surveillants ability to remain unnoticed whilst
simultaneously observing the targets actions. The word derives from the
French word surveiller meaning to watch over.2 Investigators
conducting the surveillance are often referred to as surveillants and
the person being surveyed as the subject/target.4 It is important to
note that no attempt is made to depict surveillance forms other than
those involving the direct physical observation of a subject or a targeted
object (as opposed to forms of electronic surveillance). Generally the
former requires that the surveillant(s) covertly follow and observe the
subject for variable periods of time and may require the use of vehicles
and public transport if observation by foot is not feasible.
Perception is the direct observation of objects in their environment.
Within any perceptual process, three elements have contributing effects
on overall judgments. First, the perceiver is the main judgment maker.
His/her experiences effect the way he/she views the surrounding

The Police Journal

April 1999

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