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Social Threats are Processed as Physical Threats

Updated: Nov 25, 2018


If a process server is knocking at your door, it goes without saying, you’re in trouble, legal trouble that is. For process servers some jobs are straightforward, while others are complicated. Many times, recipients can be evasive, erratic or just plain angry. For example, can you imagine being served with divorce papers, when you thought you and your spouse were still “working it out”.

“Process servers understand that their jobs involve risk.”

According to Neuroscientist Evian Gordon, the brain’s central organizing principal is to minimize danger and maximize reward. This concept is called “approach-avoid response”.

Essentially, when a person encounters a stimulus their brain will either tag the stimulus as ‘good’ and engage in the stimulus (approach), or their brain will tag the stimulus as ‘bad’ and they will disengage from the stimulus (avoid). The response becomes particularly strong when the stimulus is associated with survival. However, one of the biggest breakthroughs in neuroscience this past decade is that the brain processes social threats similarly to how it processes physical threats. What does that mean? The following two scenario would generate the same brain response: (1) someone at work saying to you, “Listen, I think that should have been handled differently. Come into my office so we can talk about it”; and (2) walking to your car late one night and hearing footsteps behind you as you near your car. Essentially, in both scenarios the same regions of the brain are activated. Science tells us that your rationale brain - - the Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC) - - would intervene but this is not always the case if the primitive brain (the amygdala area) seizes control, effectively, of your body.


Knowing this, One Serve Legal, LLC (OSL) trains its employees to be aware of how social threats impacts oneself and others, methods to being reflective in order to tamper the brain’s reaction and uses the SCARF model which provides a robust scientific framework for building self-awareness and awareness of others.


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