Performance and coping under stress in security settings

Performance and coping under stress in security settings

A new CREST report, published today, summarises presentations from a workshop highlighting the latest cross-disciplinary academic research on performance and coping under extreme stress.

Defence, security and law-enforcement personnel may be required to operate in extreme environments, including in war zones and other dangerous settings. These environments are typically characterised by intense environmental (e.g., extreme temperature, low resource), psychological (e.g., high threat, monotony, boredom) and interpersonal stressors (e.g., social tension).

Security personnel entering challenging and demanding contexts can be broadly grouped into two categories. The first is those who do it as part of a job and have been selected and trained:

  • Military (Special Forces).
  • Civilian governmental and private sector security workers.
  • Undercover law enforcement officers.

The second category is individuals who choose to enter or find themselves in extreme contexts without in-depth training and preparation:

  • Informants.
  • Terrorists.
  • Hostages.

We can learn about the performance and resilience of people involved in security activities by examining the responses of analogous groups operating under similar extreme and high-pressure conditions.

This report summarises the presentations discussed at a workshop, aimed at sharing the latest cross-disciplinary academic research and practical experiences of performance and coping under extreme stress and the discussion on the implications for security.

The workshop, sponsored by CREST, was organised by Professor Emma Barrett and Dr Nathan Smith at the University of Manchester. Over a day and a half, academic researchers and people with extensive experience in extreme environments shared their knowledge with a practitioner-focused audience.

Presentations focused on the nature and impact of extreme stress, and lessons learned from experience and research. The report is structured around the key themes that arose from those discussions.


Performance and coping under stress in security settings reportYou find the full report here:

The report is produced under a Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC-SA licence. For more information on how you can use our content read our copyright page.

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