Panel 9: Practitioner perspectives

Chair: Olivia Brown

LT 2&3, Wednesday 20th, 1430-1630

Nadine Michaelides

PhD | University College London

A new scenario-based measurement to identify insider threat through the lens of the psychological contract

Session: Panel 9: Practitioner perspectives (LT2)

The ‘psychological contract’ is an unwritten contract that refers to a set of beliefs about reciprocal obligations between an employee and an employer (Rousseau, 1989). When the psychological contract is breached it can impact on employee commitment towards their organisations, compromise on trust, encourage organisational misbehaviour and increase turnover intentions of employees. Insider threat’ is a term used when employees are at risk of intentionally or unintentionally committing information or cyber-related crimes against the organisation and can provoke serious cybersecurity incidents that threaten the core infrastructure of that organisation. Current methods do not exist to identify whether psychological contract breaches have occurred and how they interact with cybersecurity behaviour, specifically Insider Threat. 

By adopting a mixed methods approach, this study proposes an appropriate measurement tool using Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs), as well as Story Completion to identify human factors that may result in heightened cyber and information security threat within organisations.  A team of subject matter experts were recruited to evaluate and review the surveys, to support the creation of a reliable measurement of the psychological contract in the context of information and cybersecurity, in preparation for a subsequent empirical study.


Nathan Smith

Associate Professor | Coventry University

Stress, health and performance in undercover policing: A systematic review and mixed research synthesis

Session: Panel 9: Practitioner perspectives (LT2)

Undercover policing exposes personnel to numerous stressful demands. Understanding the impact of these demands and what can be done to mitigate their effects is important for the health and wellbeing, and safe, effective and ethical function of personnel. Despite the personal and operational security barriers associated with studying undercover officers, there is an existing evidence-base focused on stress, health and performance in these settings. Prior empirical research and practitioner case studies of undercover policing have, for instance, examined issues related to personnel selection, types of stressor exposure, and experiences of post-deployment reintegration. The aim of the present research was to systematically review and synthesise findings from this work. After database searching, and backward and forward searches of retrieved literature, a total of 40 articles were retained and included in the review. A mixed research synthesis was used to interpret findings and generate themes. Themes identified include (1) stressors encountered in undercover roles, (2) impact of stressors on officer function (health and performance), (3) protective and vulnerability factors (individual factors and organizational practices), and (4) support and management of undercover officers. The quality and generalisability of existing research and the implications of findings for future studies and applied practice are discussed.

Co-authors: Professor Emma Barrett, University of Manchester; Dr Jo Billings, University College London


Simon Oleszkiewicz

PhD | Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Exploring adaptability in a covert police context

Session: Panel 9: Practitioner perspectives (LT2)

Adaptability refers to cognitive, behavioural and emotional adjustments that assist in effectively responding to novel and uncertain situations. The importance of adaptability for social interactions has been highlighted in several fields, but remains understudied in the context of covert police work. To examine adaptive behavior, we developed a new experimental set-up inspired by observations of real undercover training. In Experiment 1, students (n = 30) took the role of an ‘agent’ that had to complete three ‘undercover missions’. Adaptive behavior was elicited by controlling three features: (1) the agent has a specific goal to accomplish, (2) the agent has some form of expectation of the upcoming situation, and (3) that there is a violation of that expectation. In Experiment 2 a sample of practitioners experienced with covert policing (n = 22) watched a number of videos from Experiment 1 and assessed the agents’ adaptive responses. The findings showed that our experimental set-up successfully elicited adaptive behaviour. Practitioners’ ratings of adaptability were strongly related to their ratings of trustworthiness, rapport, but not with actual mission success. The results highlight the potential importance of adaptability for law enforcement contexts. The experimental set-up will be discussed.

Co-authors: Lynn Weiher, University of Twente; Erik Mac Giolla, University of Gothenburg


Zainab Al-Attar & Cyrus Abbasian

Senior Lecturer | University of Central Lancashire
Honourary Senior Lecturer | St George’s, University of London

How do we Talk about Autism and ADHD when Assessing Extremism Risk

Session: Panel 9: Practitioner perspectives (LT2)

Autism and ADHD are not risk factors for extremism in the general population and instead are neurodiverse conditions that generate positive strengths. However, when an individual posing extremism risk has a diagnosis of autism or ADHD, the way in which such neurodivergence shapes their risk and resilience needs to be understood by risk assessors and managers. A nuanced synthesis of specialist clinical expertise in autism and ADHD and forensic psychological knowledge of extremism risk is needed to inform this area of work. The authors, a forensic psychologist and psychiatrist, will provide a broad theoretical framework to structure our understanding of the nuanced role which different facets of autism and ADHD may play in shaping push and pull factors for extremism, with reference to the FARAS and FARAH frameworks. The need to inform formulations of risk and protection with clinical knowledge of high functioning autism and ADHD presentations is highlighted, with emphasis on how a lack of knowledge of these presentations hinders not only diagnosis but also an understanding of their role in vulnerability and resilience. Emphasis is placed on preventing stigma of neurodivergence and focussing on the many strengths that arise from it, in order to prevent and mitigate risk.

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