CREST Roundup: August 2019

CREST august 2019 roundup

This is a roundup of what CREST has been up to in August 2019. You can stay up-to-date with all our work by signing up to the CREST Newsletter, and have CREST news and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Doctoral Thesis Overview

The effectiveness of information elicitation techniques is the subject of our first Doctoral Thesis Overview – a brand new CREST resource.

CREST has produced a new resource (Doctoral Thesis Overview), designed to summarise and highlight the key findings from our CREST PhD’s theses.

Feni Kontogianni’s doctoral research on information elicitation techniques is the subject of the first brief (download, read and share for free here).

The overarching aim of Feni Kontogianni’s doctoral research was to examine the effectiveness of information elicitation techniques. In particular, elicitation techniques designed to enhance reports concerning multi-actor single and repeated events provided by cooperative sources.

Tested across four experiments, Feni measured the effectiveness of using the self-generated cue mnemonic technique (in conjunction with the timeline technique and follow-up open-ended questions) to facilitate recall and reporting of complex events.

CREST have published the key findings from Feni’s research. This new resource gives an overview of the four experiments as well as how this doctoral research informs techniques for intelligence gathering.

You can download the Doctoral Thesis Overview from the resource page here.

Watch this space as we publish more CREST Doctoral Thesis Overviews in the coming year.

Using Self-Generated Cues To Elicit Information

Feni also has created a CREST guide which looks at the Self-Generated Cues Technique and how it can be used (in conjunction with the Timeline Technique) to prompt the interviewee’s memory about a witnessed single event or a series of repeated events.

A self-generated cue might be any idiosyncratic detail of an experienced event that is in some way salient or memorable to that individual. Because of the nature of these cues, they can effectively prompt further recall of associated information.

Why do self-generated cues work as an effective memory aid?
Because details of a witnessed event are associated in memory, retrieving one detail often leads to recall of another. The use of this aid at retrieval helps activate the links between related details in memory and, in doing so, facilitates the recall and reporting of more information. If the overlap between the retrieval cue and the original memory is optimised, this will enhance retrieval further.

To find out more, download the guide here:

Early Career Researchers On Security Threats

Read about the innovative applied research being undertaken by Early Career Researchers on Security Threats.

We’re proud of the range and quality of all the research CREST carries out to help understand, mitigate and counter security threats to the UK. But we’re especially excited about the new cohort of researchers that we’re developing.

Over the next few months we’ll be publishing new and updated blogs from our CREST funded doctoral researchers. Here’s the latest three blogs we’ve published:

Affect And Emotion In Extremist Discourse
Affect and emotion seem to be key driving forces in extremist discourse and terror activities. In her PhD research, Kristine Endsjøis looking at the role of emotion in persuasion and the affective processes that drive extremist discourse.
Read about Kristine’s research here.

Increasing Self-Disclosure in Interviews
Third year doctoral researcher Christina Winters explains how interview context and interpersonal tactics can produce more information about job candidates in sensitive roles.
Read about Christina’s research here.

Is nonverbal mimicry an important tool in eliciting information?
First year doctoral researcher Abbie Maroño is investigating the effects of interpersonal closeness on nonverbal mimicry during face-to-face interactions.
Read about Abbie’s research here.

You can read all the blogs in the ECR series here:

Final Projects Announced

The final projects to come out of CREST’s 2019 commissioning call have been announced.

In addition to long-term research projects, CREST commissions six- and twelve-month projects to react to new and emerging requirements of its funders. CREST offered £1.12m to fund innovative proposals within this latest round of commissioning.

After a rigorous and independent review process, the successful projects were selected from more than 80 applications. The final three projects announced this month were:

Inoculating against the spread of Islamophobic and extremist Islamist disinformation 
Led by Stephan Lewandowsky (University of Bristol), this project takes a different approach by examining the efficacy of inoculation against misinformation.

Understanding the role of individual differences in the adoption, use and exploitation of smart home technology
This project, led by Emma Williams (University of Bristol), uses home-based IoT technology and cyber-enabled crime as a basis to explore the relationship between individual differences in the adoption and use of new technology, and the exploitation of such technologies for nefarious purposes.

Rapport building: Culture and online vs. in-person interviews
Examining how rapport is built between people of different culture backgrounds, across online and in-person interactions is the focus of this project led by Dr. Ewout Meijer (Maastricht University). Using Hall’s (1976) theory on low- and high-context communication cultures, this project will examine the effect of culture on rapport-building in investigative interviewing scenarios.

To see all the 2019 CREST commissioned projects go to:

Out and about

Presentations and awards

Lorraine Hope, Professor of Applied Cognitive Psychology and member of the International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology and the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST), has won an international award for academic excellence.

The International Investigation Interviewing Research Group (iIIRG) awarded her the 2019 Award for Academic Excellence in recognition of her outstanding achievements to the area of ethical investigative interviewing, at their international conference of researchers and investigative practitioners in Norway recently.

Professor Hope said she was thrilled and that the award recognised the impact University of Portsmouth research was having on practitioners and end users.


Dr Noémie Bouhana (UCL Security & Crime Science) carried out her conceptual research as part of a call for papers from the UK Commission for Countering Extremism.

Her paper, The Moral Ecology of Extremism, looks to explain what drives extremism and why some individuals come to see committing extremist acts as morally legitimate. It also provides an analytical guide to help policymakers and stakeholders answer that question.

The paper is published as one of eight peer-reviewed academic papers released by the Independent Commission for Countering Extremism on the causes of extremism, online extremism and approaches to countering the issue.

Baele, S. J. (2019). Conspiratorial Narratives in Violent Political Actors’ Language. Journal of Language and Social Psychology

Stephane J. Baele, Lewys Brace & Travis G. Coan (2019) From “Incel” to “Saint”: Analyzing the violent worldview behind the 2018 Toronto attack, Terrorism and Political Violence, DOI: 10.1080/09546553.2019.1638256 

Hannah K. Richards, Stephane J. Baele & Travis G. Coan (2019) Studying “Radio Machete”: Towards a Robust Research Programme, Journal of Genocide Research, DOI: 10.1080/14623528.2019.1652017


University of Dundee
Post-Doctoral Research Fellow (Human-Computer Interaction/Psychology/Cyber Security/Related fields)

Grade 7 Spine Point 29-32 (£32,236 – £35,211) 
30 months FTE

From the job post:
We are recruiting for an exceptional individual to join us as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow within the interdisciplinary Living Digital Group at the University of Dundee. You will undertake qualitative research that focusses on social and behavioural aspects of cyber security and security compliance; personal data; online identity; privacy attitudes and behaviours; computer-mediated communication and communication behaviours.

You will join a multidisciplinary team, with expertise in Socio-Digital Interaction, Behavioural Science, Co-design, Interactive Information Retrieval, and Computational Legal Theory, to work on the EPSRC funded research program, Cumulative Revelations in Personal Data. This research investigates how small, apparently innocuous pieces of employees’ personal information collectively pose significant yet unanticipated risk to personal reputation and employers’ operational security.

You will have opportunities for career development through a wide range of training opportunities, and attendance at leading international conferences. There is also potential to undertake a paid internship within Government agencies.

UK citizens only.

Please click this link for full details.

Issue 10: Stress & Resilience
Coming soon…

The tenth edition of CREST Security Review will be available on the CSRapp and website very soon.

Security work is inherently stressful, involving individuals making high-consequence decisions and taking actions in complex and potentially dangerous situations, sometimes while exposed to extreme environmental conditions. Identifying sources of stress and implementing effective coping strategies is crucial to operational success.

This latest edition of CREST Security Review, Stress & Resilience, is guest edited by Emma Barrett and Nathan Smith looks to understand how and when hostile actors (terrorists or cybercriminals, for example) experience stress and what contributes to their resilience. This in turn can inform strategies to undermine their effectiveness.

The issue, coming very soon, will be available on the CSR app (haven’t already downloaded it? Click here – it’s free!) and if you’ve opted in for notifications, you’ll be the first to know when it arrives. The mobile app also provides a number of features, including:

  • Intuitive navigation – making it easy to browse issues and articles of interest.
  • Offline access –  read articles or whole issues by bookmarking them to read later.
  • Search and discover – navigate easily to the topics that interest you most as well as be alerted when new items are added.
  • Favourite articles – our synced bookmark feature allows you to conveniently store all your favourite CSR articles in one place, for you to access later via any of your devices.
  • Responsive design – you can read CSR on your mobile, iPad, Android tablet or desktop, meaning you no longer have to download the pdf (although that option is still available).

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