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Is The Effectiveness Of Wireless Alarm Systems All A Matter Of Evolution?

Robert Flynn

Wireless security systems are really widely used because they are so successful at deterring trespassers, vandals and burglars.

They work in a couple of different ways. In the first instance, security systems like these often have a visible presence and this is something that marks a property out as a more challenging target that is probably quite well-protected in a number of ways. Most criminals will go elsewhere in search of an easier ride.

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Those that don’t will have to deal with an extra deterrent. When they trip the alarm, they’ll be assaulted by noise and this generally encourages them to get away before they do any harm.

Of course, behind the scenes, some alarm systems also alert the police, so there’s another practical application at work that acts not as a deterrent but as a form of communication with real world consequences that burglars have to expect.

Let’s concentrate on the noise factor because that’s the really important one here. The major attraction of using wireless alarm systems is the fact that they can always be relied upon to emit an alarm the right situation once they are set. The anticipation of loud noises puts burglars off before they break in and if it doesn’t then the loud noises themselves usually do. Why do we hate loud noises so much?

 Attention

First of all, lots of people hate being the centre of attention and you can definitely put burglars and trespassers into that particular pigeonhole. It seems as though the natural inclination is to hide when you are the cause of loud noises, especially when all else is quiet.

Danger

It also seems that the natural reaction to loud noises is to assume that you are in danger. A certain amount of shock comes into it, of course, but there’s more than that at play from a psychological perspective. Maybe it’s all down to some simple evolutionary principles…

Evolution

Let’s look at things from an evolutionary perspective. When it comes to noise attracting attention you can see how this could be a bad thing in the biological story of humankind. Consider two prehistoric hunter gatherers. One is good at staying quiet when hunting because he recognises that making noise draws attention and he wants to surprise his prey. The other makes no such association.

The likely outcome of this disparity in behaviour is that the first hunter will get enough food to survive and will pass this attitude to noise on to subsequent generations. The second hunter may not survive to attract a mate and reproduce and so his attitude to noise will die with him.

When it comes to recognising the association between loud noises and danger, the same sort of evolutionary relationship is set up. One early man hears a loud noise, let’s say the roar of a wild beast or the sound of a landslide, gets spooked and beats a hasty retreat. The other doesn’t associate the loud noise with danger and so gets caught up in a life-threatening situation. It’s easy to see whose genes will be passed on, whose behavioural quirks persist.

When the evolutionary aspect of loud noises is considered, it’s easy to see why alarm systems work so well as deterrents. They cause in criminals a kind of atavistic sense of dread that’s really hard to suppress.


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