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Old 05-14-2010, 14:31   #1
David Armstrong
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Action beats Reaction? Maybe Not.

Some interesting research reported in the latest Popular Science about some recent studies. The claim has aways been that action beats reaction, but a series of tests found that those who reacted to movement in the testing were able to complete the same movement (pushing a button) approximately 22 milliseconds faster than the person who initiated the action. Tentative ideas are that the "react" command in the brain results in signals and muscle controls take a different, faster path than the "act" command uses. Something worth thinking about in the decision-making process.

Last edited by David Armstrong; 05-14-2010 at 14:32..
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Old 05-14-2010, 15:11   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Armstrong View Post
Some interesting research reported in the latest Popular Science about some recent studies. The claim has aways been that action beats reaction, but a series of tests found that those who reacted to movement in the testing were able to complete the same movement (pushing a button) approximately 22 milliseconds faster than the person who initiated the action. Tentative ideas are that the "react" command in the brain results in signals and muscle controls take a different, faster path than the "act" command uses. Something worth thinking about in the decision-making process.
Interesting.

Was it only a simple task like pushing a button, or was it tested in more complex tasks?

How would this affect the assessment made drawing and chambering a round only adds .2 of a second and therefor doesn't matter?

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Old 05-14-2010, 16:56   #3
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Ones 'reaction' is based on stimulus from one or more of the senses combined with the concentration level of the one being tested.

If your concentration wanders... it will show in the slowing of the reaction time. If their senses are dull, so goes the reaction time to.

And if ones senses fail to pick up a clue due to the 'tell' from their opponent, or seeing signs something is amiss, and thus heightening ones concentration, the reaction time will be much slower (if any reaction is registered at all.)

So you see ones reaction time is more than just a clinical study where a button is pushed while no other stimulus present. And you can see how relying on such a study could lead you to a false conclusion.

Action does beat reaction, all other things being equal. It’s the ‘all other things being equal’ that makes life interesting.

Deaf
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Old 05-14-2010, 17:18   #4
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DA,

Do you have a link to the article, or the month / year of the publication?

Did they swap the candidates around, so that the "actor" and "reactor" changed roles?


If you could find it, that'd be great.

'Drew
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Old 05-14-2010, 17:20   #5
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Pat Rogers put me through an action vs. reaction drill that I could not believe the results of.

Three shooters standing abreast about 7 yards away from three pepper poppers. I was in the middle and two other shooters of equal abilities were on either side of me. I was the victim of a mugging by the other two. They were standing pistols drawn at the low ready while I was holstered concealed with my hands up. Pat told me to shoot the two poppers in front of my opponents and they were to attempt to shoot mine when they saw me begin the drawstroke. I told him he was crazy that I would not win.

We took positions and I verbally began begging for my life, etc. etc. etc.. I drew and shot down all three poppers before they got a single shot off. I was amazed. That was when I became a proponent of action vs. reaction.

Studies about button pushing don't really measure up against live fire.
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Old 05-14-2010, 17:26   #6
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Pat Rogers put me through an action vs. reaction drill that I could not believe the results of.

Three shooters standing abreast about 7 yards away from three pepper poppers. I was in the middle and two other shooters of equal abilities were on either side of me. I was the victim of a mugging by the other two. They were standing pistols drawn at the low ready while I was holstered concealed with my hands up. Pat told me to shoot the two poppers in front of my opponents and they were to attempt to shoot mine when they saw me begin the drawstroke. I told him he was crazy that I would not win.

We took positions and I verbally began begging for my life, etc. etc. etc.. I drew and shot down all three poppers before they got a single shot off. I was amazed. That was when I became a proponent of action vs. reaction.



Studies about button pushing don't really measure up against live fire.

Sean,

What happened when the roles were reversed for you and the other shooters, please?

'Drew
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Old 05-14-2010, 17:33   #7
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We did not reverse roles. This was one drill done once during a full days' training. Perhaps multiple attempts would have yielded different results. However, as the shooter who was convinced I couldn't do it I was shocked at how much time it seemed I had before they reacted. THEY were shocked as well.
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Old 05-15-2010, 05:54   #8
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I have personally measured the reaction times of several experienced shooters, and found the average reaction time to be about .27 seconds. With repeated practice some could cut their reaction times to about .18 seconds, but it took practice.

Method: Shooter standing with pistol loaded with a blank, finger on trigger in a shooting position. Using a shot timer to measure the reaction time, the shooter was instructed to fire a shot as fast as possible when hearing the "beep". The timer measured the reaction time = elapsed time between the beep and the shot.

Bear in mind these times were recorded by people who knew the timer was going to "beep" sometime in the next few seconds, didn't have to hit a target and were "ready" to pull the trigger instantly.

I suspect that an armed robber who isn't expecting armed resistence is going to be considerably slower getting off a shot, probably .50 seconds or longer. But that's just a guess.

Bottom line: If you are capable of drawing, shooting and hiting in .25 seconds or less, you are in all probability able to beat your assailant's reaction time. And < .25 second draw & shoots are well within the capability of those who practice and use fast equipment.

What I measured was the reaction to a sound = beep. But I remember Bill Jordan demonstrating action beats reaction to visual start signals as well by having a person stand facing him with their hands held about a foot apart and ready to clap. He told them to clap their hands together as soon as they saw him start to draw. He was able to draw and bring the barrel of his revolver up between their hands before they could clap.

Action beats reaction in the real world. But practice helps!
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Old 05-15-2010, 13:26   #9
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Quote:
Was it only a simple task like pushing a button, or was it tested in more complex tasks?
Pretty simple, as I understand it . I haven't had a chance to see the research design (I'm digging through that now), but as it was explained two people faced each other in front of a setup with a button for each of them, hands at the side. Either party could "draw" first, then the other party would react when he detected the draw by trying to push his button first.
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How would this affect the assessment made drawing and chambering a round only adds .2 of a second and therefor doesn't matter?
Would not have any significant effect at all. It might change the performance window from .2 seconds to .2 seconds plus 22 milliseconds (.2022 seconds, if I got the split right).

ETA: Experiment was not with hands at side, it was a 3-button console with one button held down until the action sequence.

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Old 05-15-2010, 13:27   #10
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Action does beat reaction, all other things being equal.
Actually, it appears it does not. That is what the experiment was all about.
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Old 05-15-2010, 13:42   #11
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DA,
Do you have a link to the article, or the month / year of the publication?
Did they swap the candidates around, so that the "actor" and "reactor" changed roles?
If you could find it, that'd be great.
'Drew
Popular Mechanics (not Popular Science...my bad!), June 2101. Either party could be actor or reactor, just like in a gunfight, which the experiment was dsigned to replicate.

There is an in-depth look at what seems to be the same stuff at http://prism.bham.ac.uk/pdf_files/We..._PRSB_2010.pdf

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Old 05-15-2010, 13:49   #12
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Originally Posted by seanmac45 View Post
We did not reverse roles. This was one drill done once during a full days' training. Perhaps multiple attempts would have yielded different results. However, as the shooter who was convinced I couldn't do it I was shocked at how much time it seemed I had before they reacted. THEY were shocked as well.
That is a great old trick, and it isn't based on action/reaction interstingly enough. The trick is to get the other party actively refraining from shooting. Thus when you draw they have to do two things...eliminate the "I can't shoot yet" pathway and then open up the "shoot" pathway. IIRC it takes on average about 1/4 second to do that.
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Old 05-15-2010, 14:37   #13
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Interesting, if one reacted to a perceived stimulus that wasnt actually there then was he the reactor or the actor ?
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Old 05-15-2010, 15:23   #14
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David;

As usual you present your theories and opinions based upon statistics and research.

My opinions are based upon thousands of real life armed interactions with real bad guys.

I'm here to tell you that in the real world action beats reaction every time. The proof of that is me being alive and sitting here typing a coherent reply to your "theories".
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Old 05-15-2010, 16:25   #15
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Something to consider is that understanding a pending action and anticipating employing a predetermined action based upon a clearly defined visual or auditory stimulus allows a short-cut to the Observe-Orient-Decide part of the long studied OODA Loop. There have been people who have proposed ways to 'short-cut' part of the OODA Loop, and perhaps this referenced study is similar in nature.

Where this particular study may lose some potential relevance is trying to apply it to actual events involving situations where the participants do not know the sequence of events each other may be planning, or the timing, and where actual lives and survival are at stake.

Perhaps this study might have more relevance to some college or professional sports endeavors.

I can understand 'pattern/motion recognition' from a martial arts perspective ... learning to recognize usual physical traits, balance, tremors, etc which are sometimes exhibited, or telegraphed, by an opponent in specific circumstances and conditions ... but it becomes more complicated as the situations and conditions preceding such short duration events, or alternative actions, are taken into consideration.

Info like this is always interesting, but some judicious caution and application based upon situation context and relevance should be kept in mind.

I've been both faster and slower than other folks when it came to being in the 'reactive' position in many situations ... in practice, competitive venue and actual (with serious bodily injury or life at stake) situations.

Just depends.

Don't discount the effect of the psychological influence of induced hormonal reaction when it comes to such things outside a carefully controlled lab environment where things are more or less 'safe'.

The world is less predictable and less tolerant and willing to act according to our expectations and our desire to 'control events'.
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Old 05-15-2010, 17:50   #16
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I was in a class exercise where the aggressor held an unloaded REAL handgun (S&W DA auto in my case) and the defender held his hands up at shoulder level. The defender was to grab the weapon and disable it by driving the slide back. The aggressor was to pull the trigger at the first perceived threat or at anytime he felt like it. The distance was about three feet.

The aggressor rarely got the "shot" off.
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Old 05-16-2010, 13:07   #17
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David;
As usual you present your theories and opinions based upon statistics and research. My opinions are based upon thousands of real life armed interactions with real bad guys.
Yep, stupid old science, always trying to answer questions and find stuff out!Coming up with facts and doing real tests and measuring things. Sure gets in the way of untested opinions. FWIW, my theories come not only statistics and research, but also from a couple decades of wearing a badge and having my own thousands of real life armed interactions with bad guys. And as another FWIW, this is not my theory, this is some research i ran across and felt was interesting in the context of Tactics and Training.
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I'm here to tell you that in the real world action beats reaction every time. The proof of that is me being alive and sitting here typing a coherent reply to your "theories".
Sorry, but that simply is not correct. Action does not beat reaction every time. The simple childs game where you hold your hands out and another person holds theirs under yours then tries to slap your hand is proof of that.

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Old 05-16-2010, 13:15   #18
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Put an almost in front of that every and its probably a pretty true statement.

The science did say(results of experiment 1) "reactors rarely beat initiators"
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Old 05-16-2010, 13:52   #19
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Sorry, but that simply is not correct. Action does not beat reaction every time. The simple childs game where you hold your hands out and another person holds theirs under yours then tries to slap your hand is proof of that.
I think this gets a bit off track from the research (which I found very interesting and appreciate you sharing).

The game requires a more movement for the actor vs that of the actor.

I wonder if the reactor's brain assessed how fast the actor's movements were and adjusted accordingly to "beat" the actor?

The actor has nothing to assess and moves at it's own pace. The reactor is moving at a pace to beat the actor...
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Old 05-16-2010, 13:54   #20
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Here is the abstract of the report, at http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.o...2009.2123.full
Everyday behaviour involves a trade-off between planned actions and reaction to environmental events. Evidence from neurophysiology, neurology and functional brain imaging suggests different neural bases for the control of different movement types. Here we develop a behavioural paradigm to test movement dynamics for intentional versus reaction movements and provide evidence for a ‘reactive advantage’ in movement execution, whereby the same action is executed faster in reaction to an opponent. We placed pairs of participants in competition with each other to make a series of button presses. Within-subject analysis of movement times revealed a 10 per cent benefit for reactive actions. This was maintained when opponents performed dissimilar actions, and when participants competed against a computer, suggesting that the effect is not related to facilitation produced by action observation. Rather, faster ballistic movements may be a general property of reactive motor control, potentially providing a useful means of promoting survival.
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