How to Predict Which Soldier Will Commit Violent Acts

Nipping violence in the bud before it happens is an area of major, obvious concern for behavioral researchers. To the extent violence can be predicted, researchers face the kindest odds in situations where they have access to a great deal of data about a given set of individuals — that’s what allows them to identify potential risk factors, tweak models that predict who’s most likely to commit violence, and so on. The military, it turns out, is a potentially fruitful area of research, simply because the armed services collect such a heaping quantity of data about their members. In a new study in Psychological Medicine, a team of 13 researchers used Army data to develop a machine-learning algorithm that they say can help predict which soldiers are most likely to commit violent…


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