Development of the Reporting Information about Networks and Groups (RING) task: a method for eliciting information from memory about associates, groups, and networks

Eliciting detailed and comprehensive information about the structure, organisation and relationships between individuals involved in organised crime gangs, terrorist cells and networks is a challenge in investigations and debriefings. Drawing on memory theory, the purpose of this paper is to develop and test the Reporting Information about Networks and Groups (RING) task, using an innovative piece of information elicitation software.

Using an experimental methodology analogous to an intelligence gathering context, participants (n=124) were asked to generate a visual representation of the “network” of individuals attending a recent family event using the RING task.

All participants successfully generated visual representations of the relationships between people attending a remembered social event. The groups or networks represented in the RING task output diagrams also reflected effective use of the software functionality with respect to “describing” the nature of the relationships between individuals.

The authors succeeded in establishing the usability of the RING task software for reporting detailed information about groups of individuals and the relationships between those individuals in a visual format. A number of important limitations and issues for future research to consider are examined.

The RING task is an innovative development to support the elicitation of targeted information about networks of people and the relationships between them. Given the importance of understanding human networks in order to disrupt criminal activity, the RING task may contribute to intelligence gathering and the investigation of organised crime gangs and terrorist cells and networks.

(From the journal abstract)

Hope, L, Kontogianni, F, Geyer, K & Thomas, WD 2019, 'Development of the Reporting Information about Networks and Groups (RING) task: a method for eliciting information from memory about associates, groups, and networks', The Journal of Forensic Practice

Staying Engaged in Terrorism: Narrative Accounts of Sustaining Participation in Violent Extremism

Research exploring radicalization pathways and how and why people become involved in terrorism has expanded since the 9/11 attacks. Likewise, over the last decade research exploring de-radicalization and desistence from terrorism has grown and expanded in an attempt to promote exit from extremist or terror groups.

However, research studies on how individuals sustain engagement in terrorism and their involvement with extremist organizations, often in the face of great adversity, are absent from the body of research.

To address this scarcity of research this study analyzed accounts of engagement in violent extremism produced by Northern Irish loyalist and republican paramilitaries in order to explore how their paramilitary lifestyle, perpetration of acts of political violence and the pressure from countering threats posed by rival groups, and the State security forces impacted on them.

The analysis utilized a hybrid of thematic analysis and interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). The themes raised through the analysis reflected the psychological, social and economic hardship associated with this lifestyle. The narrative accounts also illustrated psychological changes associated to engagement in violence and from insulation within tightly knit extremist groups.

As most of the participants faced incarceration during their paramilitary careers, themes also reflected on the impact imprisonment had on them. The themes explored factors that sustained their involvement, including the role of identity development and identity fusion in sustaining their extremism, the impact of insulated group membership, feelings of efficacy, dehumanization processes, community support, and beliefs in the utility of violence.

(From the journal abstract)

Neil Ferguson & James W. McAuley, 2020. Staying engaged in terrorism: narrative accounts of sustaining participation in violent extremism. Frontiers in psychology.

An evidence synthesis of strategies, enablers and barriers for keeping secrets online regarding the procurement and supply of illicit drugs

This systematic review attempts to understand how people keep secrets online, and in particular how people use the internet when engaging in covert behaviours and activities regarding the procurement and supply of illicit drugs.

With the Internet and social media being part of everyday life for most people in western and non-western countries, there are ever-growing opportunities for individuals to engage in covert behaviours and activities online that may be considered illegal or unethical.

A search strategy using Medical Subject Headings terms and relevant key words was developed. A comprehensive literature search of published and unpublished studies in electronic databases was conducted.

Additional studies were identified from reference lists of previous studies and (systematic) reviews that had similar objectives as this search, and were included if they fulfilled our inclusion criteria. Two researchers independently screened abstracts and full-texts for study eligibility and evaluated the quality of included studies. Disagreements were resolved by a consensus procedure. The systematic review includes 33 qualitative studies and one cross-sectional study, published between 2006 and 2018.

Five covert behaviours were identified: the use of communication channels; anonymity; visibility reduction; limited posts in public; following forum rules and recommendations. The same technologies that provide individuals with easy access to information, such as social networking sites and forums, digital devices, digital tools and services, also increase the prevalence of inaccurate information, loss of privacy, identity theft and disinhibited communication.

This review takes a rigorous interdisciplinary approach to synthesising knowledge on the strategies adopted by people in keeping secrets online. Whilst the focus is on the procurement and supply of illicit drugs, this knowledge is transferrable to a range of contexts where people keep secrets online. It has particular significance for those who design online/social media applications, and for law enforcement and security agencies.

(From the journal abstract)

Aikaterini Grimani, Anna Gavine and Wendy Moncur, 2020. An evidence synthesis of strategies, enablers and barriers for keeping secrets online regarding the procurement and supply of illicit drugs. International Journal of Drug Policy.

Source Handler telephone interactions with covert human intelligence sources: An exploration of question types and intelligence yield

Law enforcement agencies gather intelligence in order to prevent criminal activity and pursue criminals. In the context of human intelligence collection, intelligence elicitation relies heavily upon the deployment of appropriate evidence‐based interviewing techniques (a topic rarely covered in the extant research literature).

The present research gained unprecedented access to audio recorded telephone interactions (N = 105) between Source Handlers and Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) from England and Wales. The research explored the mean use of various question types per interaction and across all questions asked in the sample, as well as comparing the intelligence yield for appropriate and inappropriate questions.

Source Handlers were found to utilise vastly more appropriate questions than inappropriate questions, though they rarely used open‐ended questions. Across the total interactions, appropriate questions (by far) were associated with the gathering of much of the total intelligence yield. Implications for practise are discussed.

(From the journal abstract)

Jordan Nunan, Ian Stanier, Rebecca Milne, Andrea Shawyer and Dave Walsh, 2020. Source Handler telephone interactions with covert human intelligence sources: An exploration of question types and intelligence yield. Applied Cognitive Psychology.

Community reporting on violent extremism by 'intimates': emergent findings from international evidence

To promote early intervention strategies, Countering/Preventing Violent Extremism (C/PVE) policies internationally seek to encourage community reporting by 'intimates' about someone close to them engaging in terrorist planning.

Yet historically, we have scant evidence around what either helps or hinders intimates to share concerns with authorities. We address that deficit here through a state-of-the-art assessment of what we currently know about effective related C/PVE approaches to community reporting, based on key findings from a groundbreaking Australian study and its UK replication.

The consistency of qualitative findings from nearly 100 respondents offers new paradigms for policy and practice.

(From the journal abstract)

Paul Thomas, Michele Grossman, Kris Christmann, and Shamim Miah, 2020. Community reporting on violent extremism by 'intimates': emergent findings from international evidence. Critical Studies on Terrorism.

How is Extraversion related to Social Media Use? A Literature Review

With nearly 3.5 billion people now using some form of social media, understanding its relationship with personality has become a crucial focus of psychological research.

As such, research linking personality traits to social media behaviour has proliferated in recent years, resulting in a disparate set of literature that is rarely synthesised. To address this, we performed a systematic search that identified 182 studies relating extraversion to social media behaviour.

Our findings highlight that extraversion and social media are studied across six areas: 1) content creation, 2) content reaction, 3) user profile characteristics, 4) patterns of use, 5) perceptions of social media, and 6) aggression, trolling, and excessive use.

We compare these findings to offline behaviour and identify parallels such as extraverts' desire for social attention and their tendency to display positivity. Extraverts are also likely to use social media, spend more time using one or more social media platforms, and regularly create content.

We discuss how this evidence will support the future development and design of social media platforms, and its application across a variety of disciplines such as marketing and human-computer interaction.

(From the journal abstract)

Thomas Bowden-Green, Joanne Hinds & Adam Joinson, 2020. How is extraversion related to social media use? A literature review. Personality and Individual Differences.

ISIS Propaganda: A Full-Spectrum Extremist Message

This book offers a comprehensive overview and analysis of the Islamic State's use of propaganda.

Combining a range of different theoretical perspectives from across the social sciences, and using rigorous methods, the authors trace the origins of the Islamic State's message, laying bare the strategic logic guiding its evolution, examining each of its multi-media components, and showing how these elements work together to radicalize audiences' worldviews.

This volume highlights the challenges that this sort of "full-spectrum propaganda" raises for counter terrorism forces. It is not only a one-stop resource for any analyst of IS and Salafi-jihadism, but also a rich contribution to the study of text and visual propaganda, radicalization and political violence, and international security.

(From the book abstract)

Stephane J. Baele, Katharine A. Boyd, and Travis G. Coan. 2020. ‘ISIS Propaganda: A Full-Spectrum Extremist Message’. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780190932459 

When and How are Lies Told? And the Role of Culture and Intentions in Intelligence-Gathering Interviews

Lie‐tellers tend to tell embedded lies within interviews. In the context of intelligence‐gathering interviews, human sources may disclose information about multiple events, some of which may be false. In two studies, we examined when lie‐tellers from low‐ and high‐context cultures start reporting false events in interviews and to what extent they provide a similar amount of detail for the false and truthful events. Study 1 focused on lie‐tellers' intentions, and Study 2 focused on their actual responses.

Participants were asked to think of one false event and three truthful events. Study 1 (N = 100) was an online study in which participants responded to a questionnaire about where they would position the false event when interviewed and they rated the amount of detail they would provide for the events. Study 2 (N = 126) was an experimental study that involved interviewing participants about the events.

Although there was no clear preference for lie position, participants seemed to report the false event at the end rather than at the beginning of the interview. Also, participants provided a similar amount of detail across events. Results on intentions (Study 1) partially overlapped with results on actual responses (Study 2). No differences emerged between low‐ and high‐context cultures.

This research is a first step towards understanding verbal cues that assist investigative practitioners in saving their cognitive and time resources when detecting deception regardless of interviewees' cultural background. More research on similar cues is encouraged.

(From the journal abstract)

Haneen Deeb, Aldert Vrij, Sharon Leal, Brianna L. Verigin & Steven M. Kleinman, 2020. When and how are lies told? And the role of culture and intentions in intelligence‐gathering interviews. Legal and Criminological Psychology.

“Tell me more about this…”: An examination of the efficacy of follow-up open questions following an initial account

In information gathering interviews, follow‐up questions are asked to clarify and extend initial witness accounts. Across two experiments, we examined the efficacy of open‐ended questions following an account about a multi‐perpetrator event.

In Experiment 1, 50 mock‐witnesses used the timeline technique or a free recall format to provide an initial account. Although follow‐up questions elicited new information (18–22% of the total output) across conditions, the response accuracy (60%) was significantly lower than that of the initial account (83%). In Experiment 2 (N = 60), half of the participants received pre‐questioning instructions to monitor accuracy when responding to follow‐up questions. New information was reported (21–22% of the total output) across conditions, but despite using pre‐questioning instructions, response accuracy (75%) was again lower than the spontaneously reported information (87.5%).

Follow‐up open‐ended questions prompt additional reporting; however, practitioners should be cautious to corroborate the accuracy of new reported details.

(From the journal abstract)

Feni Kontogianni, Lorraine Hope, Paul Taylor, Aldert Vrij & Fiona Gabbert, 2020. “Tell me more about this…”: An examination of the efficacy of follow‐up open questions following an initial account. Applied Cognitive Psychology.

Ideological Transmission in Extremist Contexts: Towards a Framework of How Ideas Are Shared

Despite their centrality in academic and policy debates about radicalization and political violence, ideologies have been conceived narrowly, as cognitive, top-down, coherent and systematic.

In general, those who have used the concept of ideology have failed to draw on ideological theory or on recent insights about its practice and embodiment, or location in space and time.

Our interest is less in the content of ideology than in how it is shared by those for whom it matters. We offer an interpretive framework, based on six key questions about ideological transmission: What ideas, beliefs, and values are shared, how and why, by whom, and in which spatial and temporary contexts?

Following a discussion about the methodological pros and cons of the framework, it is tested on a series of interviews with members of Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese religious group responsible for the Tokyo subway attack in 1995. We assess the strengths and limitations of the framework for analysing the various dimensions of ideological transmission before considering what it adds to our understanding of the relationship between extreme beliefs and violent behaviour.

(From the journal abstract)

Kim Knott & Benjamin Lee, 2020. Ideological Transmission in Extremist Contexts: Towards a Framework of How Ideas Are Shared. Politics, Religion & Ideology.

Sketching while narrating as a tool to detect deceit

In none of the deception studies that used drawings to date, was the effect of sketching on both speech content and drawing content examined, making it unclear what the full potential is of the use of drawings as a lie detection tool. A total of 122 truth tellers and liars took part in the study who did or did not sketch while narrating their allegedly experienced event. We formulated hypotheses about the total amount of information and number of complications reported and about various features of the drawings. Participants in the Sketch‐present condition provided more information than participants in the Sketch‐absent condition, and truth tellers reported more details than liars, but only in the Sketch‐present condition. In contrast to previous research, no Veracity differences occurred regarding the content of the drawings, perhaps because sketching was introduced as a tool that facilitated verbal recall and not as a stand‐alone tool.

(From the journal abstract)

Aldert Vrij, Samantha Mann, Sharon Leal, Ronald P. Fisher & Haneen Deeb, 2020. Sketching while narrating as a tool to detect deceit. Applied Cognitive Psychology.

Techniques of disinformation: Constructing and communicating “soft facts” after terrorism

Informed by social media data collected following four terror attacks in the UK in 2017, this article delineates a series of “techniques of disinformation” used by different actors to try and influence how the events were publicly defined and understood.

By studying the causes and consequences of misleading information following terror attacks, the article contributes empirically to the neglected topic of social reactions to terrorism. It also advances scholarship on the workings of disinforming communications, by focusing on a domain other than political elections, which has been the empirical focus for most studies of disinformation to date.

Theoretically, the analysis is framed by drawing an analogy with Gresham Sykes and David Matza’s (1957) account of the role of “techniques of neutralization” originally published in the American Sociological Review. The connection being that where they studied deviant behaviour, a similar analytic lens can usefully be applied to disinformation cast as “deviant” information.

(From the journal abstract)

Martin Innes, 2019. Techniques of disinformation: Constructing and communicating “soft facts” after terrorism. British Journal of Sociology. https ://

Detecting smugglers: Identifying strategies and behaviours in individuals in possession of illicit objects

Behaviour detection officers' task is to spot potential criminals in public spaces, but scientific research concerning what to look for is scarce. In two experiments, 52 (Experiment 1A) and 60 (Experiment 2A) participants carried out a mission involving a ferry crossing. Half were asked to smuggle an object; the other half were non‐smugglers. In Experiment 2A, two confederates appeared to approach as if looking for someone on the ferry.

Smugglers, more than non‐smugglers, reported afterwards to have felt nervous, self‐conscious, and conspicuous and to attempt behavioural control during the ferry crossing. The secretly videotaped ferry crossings were shown to 104 (Experiment 1B) and 120 (Experiment 2B) observers, tasked to identify the smugglers. Although they reported paying attention mostly to signs of nervousness, lie detection accuracy rate was poor (48% in Experiment 1 and 39.2% in Experiment 2) because their perceptions of nervousness did not match the experiences of nervousness reported by the (non)smugglers.

(From the journal abstract)

Samantha Mann, Haneen Deeb, Aldert Vrij, Lorraine Hope & Lavinia Pontigia, 2019. Detecting Smugglers: Identifying strategies and behaviours in individuals in possession of illicit objects. Applied Cognitive Psychology.

Countering Violent Extremism Online: The Experiences of Informal Counter Messaging Actors

The online space is a haven for extremists of all kinds. Although efforts to remove violent and extremist content are increasing, there is a widely accepted need to also contest extremist messages with counter messages designed to undermine and disrupt extremist narratives.

While the majority of academic focus has been on large and well‐funded efforts linked to governments, this article considers the experiences of informal actors who are active in contesting extremist messaging but who lack the support of large institutions.

Informal actors come without some of the baggage that accompanies formal counter message campaigns, which have been attacked as lacking in credibility and constituting “just more government propaganda.” This has been noted by some of the wider countering violent extremism industry and the appetite for incorporating “real‐world” content in their campaigns seems to be rising.

This article fills a gap in our knowledge of the experiences of informal counter messaging actors. Through a series of in‐depth qualitative interviews it demonstrates that, despite the potentially serious risks of incorporating greater levels of informal content, there is an appetite among informal actors to engage with formal campaigns where they can be selective over who they work with and maintain a degree of control.

(From the journal abstract)

Benjamin Lee, 2019. Countering Violent Extremism Online: The Experiences of Informal Counter Messaging Actors. Policy & Internet.

Radicalization or Reaction: Understanding Engagement in Violent Extremism in Northern Ireland

Over the last decade various theoretical models of radicalization or pathways into engagement in violent extremism have been developed. However, there is a dearth of primary data based on direct contact with violent extremists to test these models.

In order to address this weakness, we analyzed accounts of engagement in violent extremism produced by former Northern Irish loyalist and republican paramilitaries to explore their understanding of how and why they engaged in this seemingly politically motivated violence.

A thematic analysis incorporating aspects of interpretative phenomenological analysis was employed to gain an understanding of these accounts. While the analysis of the interview transcripts produced findings that share similarities with many of the theoretical models, they challenge the importance of ideological radicalization in fueling initial engagement in violent extremism. Instead, the results demonstrate the importance of collective identity, reaction to events, perceived threats, community grievance, and peer and family influences in fueling initial engagement with the armed groups. Insulation and small‐group pressures within the organizations then amplify identity, threat perceptions, and biases, which increase feelings of efficacy and engagement in violence.

Finally, the findings discuss the role of imprisonment in ideologically radicalizing the participants, which in turn allows the paramilitaries to both sustain and rationalize their violent extremism.

(From the journal abstract)

Neil Ferguson & James W. McAuley, 2019. Radicalization or Reaction: Understanding Engagement in Violent Extremism in Northern Ireland. Political Psychology.

Fading lies: applying the verifiability approach after a period of delay

We tested the utility of applying the Verifiability Approach (VA) to witness statements after a period of delay. The delay factor is important to consider because interviewees are often not interviewed directly after witnessing an event.

A total of 64 liars partook in a mock crime and then lied about it during an interview, seven days later. Truth tellers (n = 78) partook in activities of their own choosing and told the truth about it during their interview, seven days later.

All participants were split into three groups, which provided three different verbal instructions relating to the interviewer’s aim to assess the statements for the inclusion of verifiable information: no information protocol (IP) (n = 43), the standard-IP (n = 46) and an enhanced-IP (n = 53). In addition to the standard VA approach of analysing verifiable details, we further examined verifiable witness information and verifiable digital information and made a distinction between verifiable details and verifiable sources.

We found that truth tellers reported more verifiable digital details and sources than liars.

(From the journal abstract)

Louise Jupe, Aldert Vrij, Sharon Leal & Galit Nahari, 2019. Fading lies: applying the verifiability approach after a period of delay. Psychology, Crime & Law.

“Language of Lies”: Urgent Issues and Prospects in Verbal Lie Detection Research

Since its introduction into the field of deception detection, the verbal channel has become a rapidly growing area of research. The basic assumption is that liars differ from truth tellers in their verbal behaviour, making it possible to classify them by inspecting their verbal accounts. However, as noted in conferences and in private communication between researchers, the field of verbal lie detection faces several challenges that merit focused attention. The first author therefore proposed a workshop with the mission of promoting solutions for urgent issues in the field. Nine researchers and three practitioners with experience in credibility assessments gathered for 3 days of discussion at Bar‐Ilan University (Israel) in the first international verbal lie detection workshop. The primary session of the workshop took place the morning of the first day. In this session, each of the participants had up to 10 min to deliver a brief message, using just one slide. Researchers were asked to answer the question: ‘In your view, what is the most urgent, unsolved question/issue in verbal lie detection?’ Similarly, practitioners were asked: ‘As a practitioner, what question/issue do you wish verbal lie detection research would address?’ The issues raised served as the basis for the discussions that were held throughout the workshop. The current paper first presents the urgent, unsolved issues raised by the workshop group members in the main session, followed by a message to researchers in the field, designed to deliver the insights, decisions, and conclusions resulting from the discussions.

(From the journal abstract)

Galit Nahari, Tzachi Ashkenazi, Ronald P. Fisher, Pär-Anders Granhag, Irit Hershkowitz, Jaume Masip, Ewout H. Meijer, et al. 2019. ‘“Language of Lies”: Urgent Issues and Prospects in Verbal Lie Detection Research’. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 24 (1): 1–23.

Vulnerable Witnesses: The Investigation Stage’. In Vulnerable People and the Criminal Justice System: A Guide to Law and Practice

This chapter covers one of a number issues in the book Vulnerable People and the Criminal Justice System: A Guide to Law and Practice. The following description is from the publisher's website.

Over the last 25 years there has been a growing recognition that the way in which cases involving the vulnerable are investigated, charged and tried needs to change. Successive judgments of the Court of Appeal have re-enforced the message that advocates and judges have a duty to ensure vulnerable witnesses and defendants are treated fairly and allowed to participate effectively in the process.

How do practitioners recognise who is or may be vulnerable? How should that person be interviewed? What account should police and the CPS take of a defendant's vulnerabilities? How should advocates adjust their questioning of vulnerable witnesses and defendants whilst still complying with their duties to their client? How should judges manage a trial to ensure the effective participation of vulnerable witnesses and defendants? Vulnerable People and the Criminal Justice System, written by leading experts in the field, gathers together for the first time answers to these questions and many more. It provides a practical, informative and thought-provoking guide to recognising, assessing and responding to vulnerability in witnesses and defendants at each stage of the criminal process.

Backed by authoritative research and first-hand experience and drawing on recent case law, this book enables practitioners to deal with cases involving vulnerable people with calmness, authority, and confidence.

(From the book abstract)

Rebecca Milne, and Kevin Smith. 2017. ‘Vulnerable Witnesses: The Investigation Stage’. In Vulnerable People and the Criminal Justice System: A Guide to Law and Practice, edited by Penny Cooper and Heather Norton. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.

Using the Model Statement to Elicit Verbal Differences Between Truth Tellers and Liars: The Benefit of Examining Core and Peripheral Details

Research has shown that a model statement elicits more information during an interview and that truth tellers and liars report a similar amount of extra information. We hypothesised that veracity differences would arise if the total amount of information would be split up into core details and peripheral details. A total of 119 truth tellers and liars reported a stand-out event that they had experienced in the last two years. Truth tellers had actually experienced the event and liars made up a story. Half of the participants were given a model statement during the interview. After exposure to a model statement, truth tellers and liars reported a similar amount of extra core information, but liars reported significantly more peripheral information. The variable details becomes an indicator of deceit in a model statement interview protocol as long as a distinction is made between core and peripheral details.

(From the journal abstract)

Sharon Leal, Aldert Vrij, Haneen Deeb, and Louise Jupe. 2018. ‘Using the Model Statement to Elicit Verbal Differences Between Truth Tellers and Liars: The Benefit of Examining Core and Peripheral Details’. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 7 (4): 610–17.

Memory at the Sharp End: The Costs of Remembering With Others in Forensic Contexts

In many applied contexts where accurate and reliable information informs operational decision‐making, emergency response resource allocation, efficient investigation, judicial process, and, ultimately, the delivery of justice, the costs of unfettered conversational remembering can be high. To date, research has demonstrated that conversations between co‐witnesses in the immediate aftermath of witnessed events and co‐witness retellings of witnessed events often impair both the quality and quantity of information reported subsequently. Given the largely negative impact of conversational remembering on the recall of both individual witnesses and groups of witnesses in this context, this review explores the reasons why these costs occur, the conditions under which costs are exacerbated, and how, in practical terms, the costs can be reduced in order to maximize the accuracy and completeness of witness accounts.

(From the journal abstract)

Lorraine Hope, and Fiona Gabbert. 2018. ‘Memory at the Sharp End: The Costs of Remembering With Others in Forensic Contexts’. Topics in Cognitive Science:

Extending the Verifiability Approach Framework: The Effect of Initial Questioning

The verifiability approach (VA) is a lie‐detection tool that examines reported checkable details. Across two studies, we attempt to exploit liar's preferred strategy of repeating information by examining the effect of questioning adult interviewees before the VA. In Study 1, truth tellers (n = 34) and liars (n = 33) were randomly assigned to either an initial open or closed questioning condition. After initial questioning, participants were interviewed using the VA. In Study 2, truth tellers (n = 48) and liars (n = 48) were interviewed twice, with half of each veracity group randomly assigned to either the Information Protocol (an instruction describing the importance of reporting verifiable details) or control condition. Only truth tellers revised their initial statement to include verifiable detail. This pattern was most pronounced when initial questioning was open (Study 1) and when the information protocol was employed (Study 2). Thus, liar's preferred strategy of maintaining consistency between statements appears exploitable using the VA.

(From the journal abstract)

Adam Charles Harvey, Aldert Vrij, George Sarikas, Sharon Leal, Louise Jupe, and Galit Nahari. 2018. ‘Extending the Verifiability Approach Framework: The Effect of Initial Questioning’. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 32 (6): 787–804.

Terrorist Decision Making in the Context of Risk, Attack Planning, and Attack Commission

Terrorists from a wide array of ideological influences and organizational structures consider security and risk on a continuous and rational basis. The rationality of terrorism has been long noted of course but studies tended to focus on organizational reasoning behind the strategic turn toward violence. A more recent shift within the literature has examined rational behaviors that underpin the actual tactical commission of a terrorist offense. This article is interested in answering the following questions: What does the cost–benefit decision look like on a single operation? What does the planning process look like? How do terrorists choose between discrete targets? What emotions are felt during the planning and operational phases? What environmental cues are utilized in the decision-making process? Fortunately, much insight is available from the wider criminological literature where studies often provide offender-oriented accounts of the crime commission process. We hypothesize similar factors take place in terrorist decision making and search for evidence within a body of terrorist autobiographies.

(From the journal abstract)

Paul Gill, Zoe Marchment, Emily Corner, and Noémie Bouhana. 2018. ‘Terrorist Decision Making in the Context of Risk, Attack Planning, and Attack Commission’. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism:

Eliciting Human Intelligence: The Effects of Social Exclusion and Inclusion on Information Disclosure

Eliciting information from semicooperative sources presents a major challenge in investigative and intelligence settings. This research examines the role of the human need to belong in individuals' willingness to disclose critical information. We hypothesised that social exclusion would exert a threat to individuals' need to belong and self‐esteem, which would make them strive for social reconnection through sharing information with others. In two experiments (N = 150 and N = 135), social exclusion and inclusion were manipulated before participants were given the opportunity to disclose critical information in a semicooperative game setting (Study 1) or a mock intelligence interview (Study 2). Social exclusion did not influence information disclosure in any of the experiments. Instead, however, social inclusion unexpectedly increased information disclosure in the interview setting. We conclude that prior social experiences can influence the outcome of subsequent interviews, but the precise mechanisms underlying such influence are currently unknown.

(From the journal abstract)

Karl Ask, Emma Ejelöv, and Pär Anders Granhag. 2019. ‘Eliciting Human Intelligence: The Effects of Social Exclusion and Inclusion on Information Disclosure’. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 16 (1): 3–17.

‘Russia’ In Routledge Handbook of Terrorism and Counterterrorism

This chapter on 'Russia' is one of a series of case studies in the Routledge Handbook of Terrorism and Counterterrorism. The following description is from the publisher's website.

This new Handbook provides a comprehensive, state-of-the-art overview of current knowledge and debates on terrorism and counterterrorism, as well as providing a benchmark for future research.

The attacks of 9/11 and the ‘global war on terror’ and its various legacies have dominated international politics in the opening decades of the 21st century. In response to the dramatic rise of terrorism, within the public eye and the academic world, the need for an accessible and comprehensive overview of these controversial issues remains profound. The Routledge Handbook of Terrorism and Counterterrorism seeks to fulfil this need. The volume is divided into two key parts:

Part I: Terrorism: This section provides an overview of terrorism, covering the history of terrorism, its causes and characteristics, major tactics and strategies, major trends and critical contemporary issues such as radicalisation and cyber-terrorism. It concludes with a series of detailed case studies, including the IRA, Hamas and Islamic State.

Part II: Counterterrorism: This part draws on the main themes and critical issues surrounding counterterrorism. It covers the major strategies and policies, key events and trends and the impact and effectiveness of different approaches. This section also concludes with a series of case studies focused on major counterterrorism campaigns.

This book will be of great interest to all students of terrorism and counterterrorism, political violence, counter-insurgency, criminology, war and conflict studies, security studies and IR more generally.

(From the book abstract)

Cerwyn Moore. 2019. ‘Russia’. In Routledge Handbook of Terrorism and Counterterrorism, edited by Andrew Silke, 1st Edition, 604–14. Abingdon: Routledge.

Violent Extremism: A Comparison of Approaches to Assessing and Managing Risk

The task of assessing and managing risk of violence has evolved considerably in the last 25 years, and the field of violent extremism has the potential to stand on the shoulders of the giants of this time. Therefore, the objective of this study was to identify good practice in the risk field and to apply that to the specific area of risk in relation to violent extremism – in order that developments here accord to highest standards of practice achieved so far elsewhere.

Method and Results

We begin by addressing the essential requirement to define the task of assessing and managing the risk of violent extremism – What is its purpose and parameters, who are its practitioners, in what contexts is this activity delivered, and how might any such context both facilitate and hinder the objectives of the task? Next, we map the terrain – What guidance is already available to assist practitioners in their work of understanding and managing the risk of violent extremism, and by what standards may we judge the quality of this and future guidance in the contexts in which is it applied? Finally, we explore options for the development of the field in terms of the empirical basis upon which the risks presented by individuals and the organizations to which they may affiliate are assessed, understood, and managed.


Recommendations are proposed in relation to each of these three areas of concern with a view to supporting the rapid and credible advancement of this growing and vital area of endeavour.

(From the journal abstract)

Caroline Logan and Monica Lloyd. 2019. ‘Violent Extremism: A Comparison of Approaches to Assessing and Managing Risk’. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 24 (1): 141–61.

Informal Countermessaging: The Potential and Perils of Informal Online Countermessaging

Online countermessaging—communication that seeks to disrupt the online content disseminated by extremist groups and individuals—is a core component of contemporary counterterrorism strategies. Countermessaging has been heavily criticized, not least on the grounds of effectiveness. Whereas current debates are focused on the role of government and large organizations in developing and disseminating countermessages, this article argues that such approaches overlook the informal production of countermessages. Recognizing the appetite for “natural world” content among those engaged in countermessaging, this article highlights some of the potential benefits of informal approaches to countermessaging. At the same time, the article also acknowledges the risks that may result from closer working between countermessaging organizations and informal actors.

(From the journal abstract)

Benjamin Lee. 2018. ‘Informal Countermessaging: The Potential and Perils of Informal Online Countermessaging’. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism: 1–17.

Applying the Study of Religions in the Security Domain: Knowledge, Skills, and Collaboration

Since the 1990s, scholars of religion on both sides of the Atlantic have been drawn into engagement with law enforcement agencies and security policymakers and practitioners, particularly for their expertise on new religious movements and Islam. Whilst enabling researchers to contribute to real-world challenges, this relationship has had its frustrations and difficulties, as well as its benefits and opportunities. Drawing on examples from the UK, Canada, and the US, I set out the relationship between religion and the contemporary security landscape before discussing some of the key issues arising in security research partnerships. I then turn to the question of knowledge exchange and translation in the study of religions, developing the distinction between ‘know what’ (knowledge about religions and being religiously literate), ‘know why’ (explaining religions and making the link to security threats), and ‘know how’ (researcher expertise and skills in engagement with practitioners).

(From the journal abstract)

Kim Knott. 2018. ‘Applying the Study of Religions in the Security Domain: Knowledge, Skills, and Collaboration’. Journal of Religious and Political Practice, 4 (3): 354–73.

The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories

What psychological factors drive the popularity of conspiracy theories, which explain important events as secret plots by powerful and malevolent groups? What are the psychological consequences of adopting these theories? We review the current research and find that it answers the first of these questions more thoroughly than the second. Belief in conspiracy theories appears to be driven by motives that can be characterized as epistemic (understanding one’s environment), existential (being safe and in control of one’s environment), and social (maintaining a positive image of the self and the social group). However, little research has investigated the consequences of conspiracy belief, and to date, this research does not indicate that conspiracy belief fulfills people’s motivations. Instead, for many people, conspiracy belief may be more appealing than satisfying. Further research is needed to determine for whom, and under what conditions, conspiracy theories may satisfy key psychological motives.

(From the journal abstract)

Karen Douglas, Robbie M. Sutton, and Aleksandra Cichocka. 2017. ‘The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories’. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26 (6): 538–42.

Telling Stories of Terrorism: A Framework for Applying Narrative Approaches to the Study of Militant’s Self-Accounts

Narrative has recently garnered much attention in the study of terrorism but remains poorly understood. This paper offers some initial steps towards translating the promise of narrative approaches into a set of steps for systematically analysing and understanding terrorists’ own accounts of their engagement with extremism and militancy. This approach rests on the assumption that terrorist authored accounts are more than post-hoc rhetorical exercises that aim to persuade others, or even the authors themselves, of the righteousness of their political cause or otherwise mitigate their responsibility for their involvement in violence. In particular, I advance a framework for methodically applying narrative approaches to terrorist authored texts, in particular, autobiographies. In doing so, I will demonstrate how this approach can help better comprehend how individuals involved in militancy understand the world, draw upon existing narrative resources and give meaning to their actions.

(From the journal abstract)

Simon Copeland. 2018. ‘Telling Stories of Terrorism: A Framework for Applying Narrative Approaches to the Study of Militant’s Self-Accounts’. Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression: 1–22.

Understanding Conspiracy Theories

Scholarly efforts to understand conspiracy theories have grown significantly in recent years, and there is now a broad and interdisciplinary literature. In reviewing this body of work, we ask three specific questions. First, what factors are associated with conspiracy beliefs? Our review of the literature shows that conspiracy beliefs result from a range of psychological, political, and social factors. Next, how are conspiracy theories communicated? Here, we explain how conspiracy theories are shared among individuals and spread through traditional and social media platforms. Next, what are the societal risks and rewards associated with conspiracy theories? By focusing on politics and science, we argue that conspiracy theories do more harm than good. We conclude by suggesting several promising avenues for future research.

(From the journal abstract)

Karen Douglas, Joseph E. Uscinski, Robbie M. Sutton, Aleksandra Cichocka, Turkay Nefes, Chee Siang Ang, and Farzin Deravi. 2019. ‘Understanding Conspiracy Theories’. Political Psychology, 40 (S1): 3–35.

Exploring Susceptibility to Phishing in the Workplace

Phishing emails provide a means to infiltrate the technical systems of organisations by encouraging employees to click on malicious links or attachments. Despite the use of awareness campaigns and phishing simulations, employees remain vulnerable to phishing emails. The present research uses a mixed methods approach to explore employee susceptibility to targeted phishing emails, known as spear phishing. In study one, nine spear phishing simulation emails sent to 62,000 employees over a six-week period were rated according to the presence of authority and urgency influence techniques. Results demonstrated that the presence of authority cues increased the likelihood that a user would click a suspicious link contained in an email. In study two, six focus groups were conducted in a second organisation to explore whether additional factors within the work environment impact employee susceptibility to spear phishing. We discuss these factors in relation to current theoretical approaches and provide implications for user communities.


  • Susceptibility to phishing emails is explored in an ecologically valid setting.
  • Authority and urgency techniques are found to impact employee susceptibility.
  • Context-specific factors are also likely to impact employee susceptibility.
  • A range of targeted initiatives are required to address susceptibility factors.

(From the journal abstract)

Emma Williams, Joanne Hinds, and Adam N. Joinson. 2018. ‘Exploring Susceptibility to Phishing in the Workplace’. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 120 (December): 1–13.

Digital Hoarding Behaviours: Measurement and Evaluation

The social and psychological characteristics of individuals who hoard physical items are quite well understood, however very little is known about the psychological characteristics of those who hoard digital items and the kinds of material they hoard. In this study, we designed a new questionnaire (Digital Behaviours Questionnaire: DBQ) comprising 2 sections: the Digital Hoarding Questionnaire (DHQ) assessing two key components of physical hoarding (accumulation and difficulty discarding); and the second measuring the extent of digital hoarding in the workplace (Digital Behaviours in the Workplace Questionnaire: DBWQ).

In an initial study comprising 424 adults we established the psychometric properties of the questionnaires. In a second study, we presented revised versions of the questionnaires to a new sample of 203 adults, and confirmed their validity and reliability. Both samples revealed that digital hoarding was common (with emails being the most commonly hoarded items) and that hoarding behaviours at work could be predicted by the 10 item DHQ. Digital hoarding was significantly higher in employees who identified as having ‘data protection responsibilities’, suggesting that the problem may be influenced by working practices. In sum, we have validated a new psychometric measure to assess digital hoarding, documented some of its psychological characteristics, and shown that it can predict digital hoarding in the workplace.

(From the journal abstract)

Nick Neave, Pam Briggs, Kerry McKellar, and Elizabeth Sillence. 2019. ‘Digital Hoarding Behaviours: Measurement and Evaluation’. Computers in Human Behavior, 96 (July): 72–77.

Human and Computer Personality Prediction From Digital Footprints

Is it possible to judge someone accurately from his or her online activity? The Internet provides vast opportunities for individuals to present themselves in different ways, from simple self-enhancement to malicious identity fraud. We often rely on our Internet-based judgments of others to make decisions, such as whom to socialize with, date, or employ. Recently, personality-perception researchers have turned to studying social media and digital devices in order to ask whether a person’s digital traces can reveal aspects of his or her identity. Simultaneously, advances in “big data” analytics have demonstrated that computer algorithms can predict individuals’ traits from their digital traces. In this article, we address three questions: What do we currently know about human- and computer-based personality assessments? How accurate are these assessments? Where are these fields heading? We discuss trends in the current findings, provide an overview of methodological approaches, and recommend directions for future research.

(From the journal abstract)

Joanne Hinds and Adam Joinson. 2019. ‘Human and Computer Personality Prediction From Digital Footprints’. Current Directions in Psychological Science,

What Demographic Attributes Do Our Digital Footprints Reveal?

To what extent does our online activity reveal who we are? Recent research has demonstrated that the digital traces left by individuals as they browse and interact with others online may reveal who they are and what their interests may be. In the present paper we report a systematic review that synthesises current evidence on predicting demographic attributes from online digital traces. Studies were included if they met the following criteria: (i) they reported findings where at least one demographic attribute was predicted/inferred from at least one form of digital footprint, (ii) the method of prediction was automated, and (iii) the traces were either visible (e.g. tweets) or non-visible (e.g. clickstreams). We identified 327 studies published up until October 2018. Across these articles, 14 demographic attributes were successfully inferred from digital traces; the most studied included gender, age, location, and political orientation. For each of the demographic attributes identified, we provide a database containing the platforms and digital traces examined, sample sizes, accuracy measures and the classification methods applied. Finally, we discuss the main research trends/findings, methodological approaches and recommend directions for future research.

(From the journal abstract)

Joanne Hinds and Adam N. Joinson. 2018. ‘What Demographic Attributes Do Our Digital Footprints Reveal? A Systematic Review’. PLOS ONE, 13 (11): e0207112.

In Their Own Words: Employee Attitudes towards Information Security

The purpose of this study is to uncover employee attitudes towards information security and to address the issue of social acceptability bias in information security research.


The study used personal construct psychology and repertory grids as the foundation for the study in a mixed-methods design. Data collection consisted of 11 in-depth interviews followed by a survey with 115 employee responses. The data from the interviews informed the design of the survey.


The results of the interviews identified a number of themes around individual responsibility for information security and the ability of individuals to contribute to information security. The survey demonstrated that those employees who thought the that organisation was driven by the need to protect information also thought that the risks were overstated and that their colleagues were overly cautious. Conversely, employees who thought that the organisation was driven by the need to optimise its use of information felt that the security risks were justified and that colleagues took too many risks.

Research limitations/implications

The survey findings were not statistically significant, but by breaking the survey results down further across business areas, it was possible to see differences within groups of individuals within the organisation.


The literature review highlights the issue of social acceptability bias and the problem of uncovering weakly held attitudes. In this study, the use of repertory grids offers a way of addressing these issues.

(From the journal abstract)

Debi Ashenden. 2018. ‘In Their Own Words: Employee Attitudes towards Information Security’. Information and Computer Security, 26 (3): 327–37.

Within-Subjects Verbal Lie Detection Measures: A Comparison between Total Detail and Proportion of Complications

We examined whether the verbal cue, proportion of complications, was a more diagnostic cue to deceit than the amount of information provided (e.g., total number of details).


In the experiment, 53 participants were interviewed. Truth tellers (n = 27) discussed a trip they had made during the last twelve months; liars (n = 26) fabricated a story about such a trip. The interview consisted of an initial recall followed by a model statement (a detailed account of an experience unrelated to the topic of investigation) followed by a post‐model statement recall. The key dependent variables were the amount of information provided and the proportion of all statements that were complications.


The proportion of complications was significantly higher amongst truth tellers than amongst liars, but only in the post‐model statement recall. The amount of information provided did not discriminate truth tellers from liars in either the initial or post‐model statement recall.


The proportion of complications is a more diagnostic cue to deceit than the amount of information provided as it takes the differential verbal strategies of truth tellers and liars into account.

(From the journal abstract)

Aldert Vrij, Sharon Leal, Louise Jupe, and Adam Harvey. 2018. ‘Within-Subjects Verbal Lie Detection Measures: A Comparison between Total Detail and Proportion of Complications’. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 23 (2): 265–79.

The Cognitive Interview and Its Use for People with Autism Spectrum Disorder

This chapter first discusses the structure of the cognitive interview (CI) and its tenets for eliciting detailed and accurate information from cooperative witnesses. The original CI was comprised of four mnemonics: report everything (RE), mental reinstatement of context (MRC), change temporal order (CTO), and change perspective (CP). The chapter then explores the protocol's effectiveness for application with individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), considering modifications for use with a population group that has difficulties communicating personal experiences. The memory profile of people with ASD suggests that problems arise when people with ASD are called on to use complex strategies to encode or retrieve information. A modified version of the MRC and the use of the sketch plan MRC help people with ASD to provide information that is comparable in accuracy to that of members of the typical population.

(From the journal abstract)

Joanne Richards and Rebecca Milne. 2018. ‘The Cognitive Interview and Its Use for People with Autism Spectrum Disorder’. In The Wiley Handbook of Memory, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and the Law, 245–69. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Using Specific Model Statements to Elicit Information and Cues to Deceit in Information-Gathering Interviews

Model Statements are designed to modify an interviewee's expectation of the amount of details required during an interview. This study examined tailored Model Statements, emphasising either spatial (Spatial-MS), or temporal (Temporal-MS) details, compared to a control condition (no-MS). Participants (63 liars, 63 truth-tellers) were randomly allocated to one of three interviewing conditions. Truth-tellers honestly reported a spy mission, whereas liars performed a covert mission and lied about their activities. The Spatial-MS elicited more spatial details than the control, particularly for truth-tellers. The Temporal-MS elicited more temporal details than the control, for truth-tellers and liars combined. Results indicate that the composition of different Model Statements increases the amount of details provided and, regarding spatial details, affects truth-teller's and liar's statements differently. Thus, Model Statements can be constructed to elicit information and magnify cues to deceit.

(From the journal abstract)

Cody Porter, Aldert Vrij, Sharon Leal, Zarah Vernham, Giacomo Salvanelli, and Niall McIntyre. 2018. ‘Using Specific Model Statements to Elicit Information and Cues to Deceit in Information-Gathering Interviews’. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 7 (1): 132–42.

The Internal Brakes on Violent Escalation: A Typology

Most groups do less violence than they are capable of. Yet while there is now an extensive literature on the escalation of or radicalisation towards violence, particularly by ‘extremist’ groups or actors, and while processes of de-escalation or de-radicalisation have also received significant attention, processes of non- or limited escalation have largely gone below the analytical radar.

This article contributes to current efforts to address this limitation in our understanding of the dynamics of political aggression by developing a descriptive typology of the ‘internal brakes’ on violent escalation: the mechanisms through which members of the groups themselves contribute to establish and maintain limits upon their own violence. We identify five underlying logics on which the internal brakes operate: strategic, moral, ego maintenance, outgroup definition, and organisational.

The typology is developed and tested using three very different case studies: the transnational and UK jihadi scene from 2005 to 2016; the British extreme right during the 1990s, and the animal liberation movement in the UK from the mid-1970s until the early 2000s.

(From the journal abstract)

Joel Busher, Donald Holbrook & Graham Macklin 2018. ‘The internal brakes on violent escalation: a typology’. Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression 10.1080/19434472.2018.1551918

Reframing Intelligence Interviews: The Applicability of Psychological Research to HUMINT Elicitation

Effective discovery and subsequent threat mitigation is predicated on accurate, timely and detailed actionable information. Information, an important element within intelligence and investigation ensures appropriate judicial disposal in Law Enforcement Agency’s (LEA) efforts to bring offenders to justice.

The value of information to delivering community safety is reflected in associated policy, practice, and process. Effective interviewing, in both its formal and informal interactive states, offers a significant opportunity to elicit critical strategic and tactical information that both informs and drives LEA activity.

It is unexpected then, that within the context of information collection, not only are human interactions between LEA and members of the public under-exploited but also, when the intention is to collect information, how unsatisfactorily it is approached and executed.

It is apparent that the required elicitation skills, including rapport building and the identification of source motivation, are not sufficiently taught, and the governing policy is overly cautious with a negligible evidence base.

Whilst this chapter focuses on the psychological aspects of techniques available for gathering information, and in particular intelligence collection, the underlying psychological principles of conducting an effective interview are relevant to a wider audience.

(From the book abstract)

Stanier, I. P., and Jordan Nunan (2018). Reframing Intelligence Interviews: The Applicability of Psychological Research to HUMINT Elicitation. In A. Griffiths, & R. Milne (Eds.), The Psychology of Criminal Investigation: From Theory to Practice (pp. 226-248). London: Routledge.

Using the model statement to elicit verbal differences between truth tellers and liars amongst Arab interviewees: A partial replication of Leal, Vrij, Deeb, and Jupe (2018)

Leal, Vrij, Deeb, and Jupe (2018) found—with British participants—that a model statement elicited (a) more information and (b) a cue to deceit: After exposure to a model statement, liars reported significantly more peripheral information than truth tellers.

We sought to replicate these findings with Arabs living in Israel. Truth tellers and liars reported a stand‐out event that they had (truth tellers) or pretended to have (liars) experienced in the last 2 years. Half of the participants were given a model statement in the second phase of the interview. Replicating Leal et al. (2018a), (a) truth tellers reported more core details than liars initially and (b) a model statement resulted in more additional core and peripheral details in the second phase of the interview. Unlike in Leal et al. (2018a), a model statement did not have a differential effect on truth tellers in the current experiment.

(From the journal abstract)

Sharon Leal, Aldert Vrij, Zarah Vernham et al, 2019. Using the model statement to elicit verbal differences between truth tellers and liars amongst Arab interviewees: A partial replication of Leal, Vrij, Deeb, and Jupe (2018). Applied Cognitive Psychology.

Deception and truth detection when analyzing nonverbal and verbal cues

In this article, I present my view on the significant developments and theoretical/empirical tipping points in nonverbal and verbal deception and lie detection from the last 30 years and on prospects for future research in this domain.

I discuss three major shifts in deception detection research: (a) From observing target persons' nonverbal behavior to analyzing their speech; (b) from lie detection based on differences between truth tellers and liars' levels of arousal to lie detection based on the different cognitive processes or strategies adopted to appear convincing; and (c) from passively observing target persons to actively interviewing them to elicit or enhance verbal cues to deceit.

Finally, I discuss my ideas for future research, focusing on initiatives from my own lab.

Hopefully, this will stimulate other researchers to explore innovative ideas in the verbal deception research domain, which already has seen so much progress in the last decade.

(From the journal abstract)


Vrij, Aldert. 2018. Deception and truth detection when analyzing nonverbal and verbal cues. Applied Cognitive Psychology. 10.1002/acp.3457.

Racialisation, ‘Religious Violence’ and Radicalisation: The Persistence of Narratives of ‘Sikh Extremism

Recent years have seen concerns raised in media and by policymakers about rising levels of ‘Sikh extremism’ and ‘Sikh radicalisation’ in Western Sikh diasporas.

In this article I analyse why these concerns persist, particularly given the general non-violent nature of ‘Sikh militancy’ (Wallace [[2011]]. “Sikh Militancy and Non-Violence.” In Sikhism In Global Context, edited by Pashaura Singh, 122–144. Oxford University Press) and the relatively few incidents of terrorism beyond those which took place during the height of Sikh militancy in the 1980s.

I argue that these concerns are a consequence of an underlying ‘anxiety about anti-assimilationist religious others’ impacted by (a) the racialisation of religious minorities which began in the colonial period, (b) a specific type of ‘Indian secularism’ which frames Indian legislation and media reporting and (c) the post 9/11 securitisation and increased surveillance of Sikh bodies as part of the ‘War on Terror’ with its concerns about ‘religious violence’ and the necessity of the secular nation state to ensure that any such violence is suitably policed.

This article will be of interest to those examining the racialisation and representations of religious minorities in Western liberal democracies and the impact of securitisation policies on these communities.

(From the journal abstract)

Jasjit Singh, 2019. Racialisation, ‘religious violence’ and radicalisation: the persistence of narratives of ‘Sikh extremism’. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

Predicting Collective Action from Micro-Blog Data

Global and national events in recent years have shown that social media, and particularly micro-blogging services such as Twitter, can be a force for good (e.g., Arab Spring) and harm (e.g., London riots). In both of these examples, social media played a key role in group formation and organisation, and in the coordination of the group’s subsequent collective actions (i.e., the move from rhetoric to action).

Surprisingly, despite its clear importance, little is understood about the factors that lead to this kind of group development and the transition to collective action. This paper focuses on an approach to the analysis of data from social media to detect weak signals, i.e., indicators that initially appear at the fringes, but are, in fact, early indicators of such large-scale real-world phenomena.

Our approach is in contrast to existing research which focuses on analysing major themes, i.e., the strong signals, prevalent in a social network at a particular point in time. Analysis of weak signals can provide interesting possibilities for forecasting, with online user-generated content being used to identify and anticipate possible offline future events. We demonstrate our approach through analysis of tweets collected during the London riots in 2011 and use of our weak signals to predict tipping points in that context.

(From the journal abstract)

Charitonidis, Christos, Awais Rashid, and Paul J. Taylor. 2017. ‘Predicting Collective Action from Micro-Blog Data’. In Prediction and Inference from Social Networks and Social Media, 141–70. Lecture Notes in Social Networks. Springer, Cham.

The Benefits of a Self-Generated Cue Mnemonic for Timeline Interviewing

Reliable information is critical for investigations in forensic and security settings; however, obtaining reliable information for complex events can be challenging. In this study, we extend the timeline technique, which uses an innovative and interactive procedure where events are reported on a physical timeline. To facilitate remembering we tested two additional mnemonics, self-generated cues (SGC), which witnesses produce themselves, against other-generated cues (OGC) which are suggested by the interviewer.

One hundred and thirty-two participants witnessed a multi-perpetrator theft under full or divided attention and provided an account using the timeline comparing the efficacy of SGC, OGC, and no cues (control). Mock-witnesses who used self-generated cues provided more correct details than mock-witnesses in the other-generated or no cues conditions, with no cost to accuracy, under full but not under divided attention. Promising results on SGC suggest that they might be a useful addition to current interviewing techniques.

(From the journal abstract)

Kontogianni, Feni, Lorraine Hope, Paul J. Taylor, Aldert Vrij, and Fiona Gabbert. 2018. ‘The Benefits of a Self-Generated Cue Mnemonic for Timeline Interviewing’. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, April.

Cross-Cultural Verbal Deception

‘Interviewing to detect deception’ research is sparse across different Ethnic Groups. In the present experiment, we interviewed truth tellers and liars from British, Chinese, and Arab origins. British interviewees belong to a low‐context culture (using a communication style that relies heavily on explicit and direct language), whereas Chinese and Arab interviewees belong to high‐context cultures (communicate in ways that are implicit and rely heavily on context).

Interviewees were interviewed in pairs and 153 pairs took part. Truthful pairs discussed an actual visit to a nearby restaurant, whereas deceptive pairs pretended to have visited a nearby restaurant. Seventeen verbal cues were examined.

Cultural cues (differences between cultures) were more prominent than cues to deceit (differences between truth tellers and liars). In particular, the British interviewees differed from their Chinese and Arab counterparts and the differences reflected low‐ and high‐context culture communication styles.

Cultural cues could quickly lead to cross‐cultural verbal communication errors: the incorrect interpretation of a cultural difference as a cue to deceit.

(From the journal abstract)

Leal, Sharon, Aldert Vrij, Zarah Vernham, Gary Dalton, Louise Jupe, Adam Harvey, and Galit Nahari. 2018. ‘Cross-Cultural Verbal Deception’. Legal and Criminological Psychology, June.

‘It’s not paranoia when they are really out to get you’: the role of conspiracy theories in the context of heightened security

Conspiracy theories have been seen as important supporting components in extreme political beliefs. This paper considers conspiracy theories in the counter jihad movement, an international network combining cultural nationalism with xenophobia towards Muslims.

This paper evaluates the nature of conspiracy belief through the analysis of several key texts published by counter jihad activists, and of content published on a daily basis by three core websites. The findings show the Islamisation conspiracy theory to be highly modular, with authors able to mix and match villains.

The analysis of daily published content demonstrates that, at the routine level, conspiracy theory is rarely used openly as a call to action.

This is in keeping with other examples of conspiracy theory in extreme right wing movements in which conspiracy is seen as justification for existing prejudices. However, the political and security context the counter jihad operates in also affords the movement opportunities to support some of their claims, often by reproducing or reinterpreting mainstream or quasi-mainstream reporting, without reverting openly to conspiracy tropes.

In the case of the counter jihad movement, as well as potentially other far-right movements, conspiracy theory may be taking a back seat to a more sophisticated public relations approach.

(From the journal abstract)

Lee, Benjamin J. 2017. ‘It’s Not Paranoia When They Are Really out to Get You: The Role of Conspiracy Theories in the Context of Heightened Security’. Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression 9 (1): 4–20.

Out with the Old and … In with the Old? A Critical Review of the Financial War on Terrorism on the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant

This article critically considers the effectiveness of the ‘Financial War on Terrorism’ on the funding streams of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).

The next section of the article highlights how the international community concentrated on tackling money laundering prior to the terrorist attacks in September 2001 and how this policy dramatically altered. In particular, this section concentrates on the development of and definition of the ‘Financial War on Terrorism’.

The final part of the article seeks to determine if the ‘Financial War on Terrorism’ is able to tackle the funding streams of ISIL.

(From the journal abstract)

Ryder, Nicholas. 2018. ‘Out with the Old and … In with the Old? A Critical Review of the Financial War on Terrorism on the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant’. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 41 (2): 79–95.

The Rise and Fall of the English Defence League: Self-Governance, Marginal Members and the Far Right

What determines the success or failure of far-right organisations? This article uses new qualitative data to explain the sudden rise and subsequent decline of the English Defence League, an anti-Islamic, street protest organisation established in the UK in 2009.

We explain the rise and fall of the English Defence League through the lens of the theory of collective action to show that the English Defence League initially motivated activism by supplying selective incentives that were enhanced by the participation of others.

The pursuit of ‘participatory crowding’ led to indiscriminate recruitment into the organisation that enabled numbers to expand into the thousands, but ultimately caused the English Defence League’s downfall because it resulted in the presence of large numbers of ‘marginal members’ with low levels of commitment whose subsequent exit was decisively destructive.

Self-governance mechanisms to ensure greater loyalty from members could have prevented the English Defence League’s decline but would also have limited its initial success.

(From the journal abstract)

Morrow, Elizabeth A, and John Meadowcroft. 2018. ‘The Rise and Fall of the English Defence League: Self-Governance, Marginal Members and the Far Right’. Political Studies, June. https://doi. org/10.1177/0032321718777907.

Lessons from the Extreme: What Business Negotiators Can Learn from Hostage Negotiations

Editors’ Note: The high-stakes world of the hostage negotiator draws instinctive respect from other negotiators. But if you operate in another domain, you could be excused for thinking that hostage negotiation has nothing to do with you.

That impression, it turns out, is quite often wrong. Here, two researchers draw parallels to several kinds of business and other disputes in which it often seems that one of the parties acts similarly to a hostage taker. Understanding what hostage negotiators have learned to do in response can be a real asset to a negotiator faced with one of these situations.

(From the book abstract)

Taylor, Paul J., and William A. Donohue. 2017. ‘Lessons from the Extreme: What Business Negotiators Can Learn from Hostage Negotiations’. In Negotiator’s Desk Reference, edited by Chris Honeyman and Andrea Kupfer Schneider. DRI Press.

Can Programming Frameworks Bring Smartphones into the Mainstream of Psychological Science?

Smartphones continue to provide huge potential for psychological science and the advent of novel research frameworks brings new opportunities for researchers who have previously struggled to develop smartphone applications.

However, despite this renewed promise, smartphones have failed to become a standard item within psychological research. Here we consider the key issues that continue to limit smartphone adoption within psychological science and how these barriers might be diminishing in light of ResearchKit and other recent methodological developments.

We conclude that while these programming frameworks are certainly a step in the right direction it remains challenging to create usable research-orientated applications with current frameworks.

Smartphones may only become an asset for psychology and social science as a whole when development software that is both easy to use and secure becomes freely available.

(From the journal abstract)

Piwek, Lukasz, David A. Ellis, and Sally Andrews. 2016. ‘Can Programming Frameworks Bring Smartphones into the Mainstream of Psychological Science?’ Frontiers in Psychology 7. https://doi. org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01252.

Psychological and Behavioral Examinations of Online Terrorism

It has long been recognised that terrorists make use of the internet as one of many means through which to further their cause. This use of the internet has fuelled a large number of studies seeking to understand terrorists' use of online environments.

This chapter provides an overview of current understandings of online terrorist behavior, coupled with an outline of the qualitative and quantitative approaches that can and have been adopted to research this phenomenon. The chapter closes with a discussion of the contentious issue of ethics in online terrorism research.

The aim of the chapter is to equip readers with the necessary knowledge and skills to conduct their own research into terrorists' online behavior, taking best ethical practices into consideration when doing so.

(From the book abstract)

Prentice, Sheryl, and Paul J. Taylor. 2018. ‘Psychological and Behavioral Examinations of Online Terrorism’. In Psychological and Behavioral Examinations in Cyber Security, edited by John McAlaney, 151–71.

Same Kind of Different: Affordances, Terrorism, and the Internet

The rapid development of the Internet as a cornerstone of private and social life has provoked a growing effort by law enforcement and security agencies to understand what role the Internet plays in terrorism. Paul Gill, Emily Corner, Maura Conway, Amy Thornton, Mia Bloom, and John Horgan's (2017, this issue) effort to identify empirically when and how terrorists engage with the Internet is thus timely and important.

Understanding when terrorists use the Internet is valuable for investigators who must evaluate the immediacy of the risk posed by a suspect or cell. Knowing the typical patterns of use (or lack of use) can facilitate inferences about a cell's preparedness, the nature of its support, and even the goal of its attack. Understanding how terrorists use the Internet is essential for policy makers who must construct legislation to deter citizens from terrorism while retaining their rights to freedom.

This is arguably best accomplished by legislation targeted at a narrow set of Internet uses that are, as far as possible, exclusively associated with illegal actions.

In this policy essay, we focus on two of Gill et al.’s (2017) main contributions. We argue that, subject to robust independent replication, they encourage thought about the functions of the Internet for terrorists, which in turn may have implications that offer useful guidance for policy and practice. Alongside the article's conceptual contributions, Gill et al. also assert to have resolved several pragmatic challenges and we suggest ways in which their solutions, if developed fully, could offer value to the security analyst community. Finally, we take stock of where Gill et al.’s contribution has left us and review the next steps.

(From the journal abstract)

Taylor, Paul J., Donald Holbrook, and Adam Joinson. 2017. ‘Same Kind of Different’. Criminology & Public Policy 16 (1): 127–33.

Between Caucasus and Caliphate: The Splintering of the North Caucasus Insurgency

In December 2014, several high-ranking field commanders from the Caucasus Emirate (Imarat Kavkaz, IK), an insurgent and designated terrorist group in Russia’s North Caucasus, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS). Following the subsequent defection of many of the IK’s surviving commanders, IS consolidated its regional presence with the establishment of a formal branch, the Caucasus Wilayah (IS/CW).

This paper uses Social Movement Theory’s concept of framing to interpret North Caucasus insurgent leaders’ response to the Syrian conflict and identify the differences in the competing factions’ articulated ideologies. It finds that IS/CW leaders have sought to draw on the emotional appeal of the “caliphate” and redirect it back into the local insurgency, while neglecting to articulate alternative tactics or goals.

Those leaders who remained loyal to the IK, by contrast, rooted their opposition in jihadi scholarship and rejected the legitimacy of the “caliphate”. However, apparent ideological differences have been exacerbated by communication difficulties that have hindered leaders’ ability to negotiate internal and external pressures.

This paper contributes to understandings of the differences between the competing factions, illustrates how groups can seek to strengthen their appeal by avoiding explicitness, and demonstrates the importance of operational context in considering ideological change.

(From the journal abstract)

Youngman, Mark. 2016. ‘Between Caucasus and Caliphate: The Splintering of the North Caucasus Insurgency’. Caucasus Survey 4 (3): 194–217.

Broader, Vaguer, Weaker: The Evolving Ideology of the Caucasus Emirate Leadership

In October 2007, veteran Chechen field commander Dokka Umarov proclaimed the formation of the Caucasus Emirate (IK), formalising the victory of the North Caucasus insurgency’s Islamist wing over its nationalist-separatists. During Umarov’s time as leader, the North Caucasus experienced sustained violence and the IK claimed responsibility for multiple terrorist attacks in and beyond the region.

However, despite the importance of ideology in understanding insurgent behaviour, the IK’s ideology and Umarov’s role in shaping it remain understudied. Using Social Movement Theory’s concept of framing to analyse Umarov’s communiqués throughout his lengthy tenure (June 2006–September 2013), this article identifies three distinct phases in Umarov’s ideological positioning of the insurgency: nationalist-jihadist (June 2006–October 2007); Khattabist (October 2007–late 2010); and partially hybridised (late 2010–September 2013).

The article contributes to debates over typologies of jihadist actors by highlighting the difficulties in applying them to the North Caucasus and provides a clearer understanding of the IK’s ideological transformation and the limits to its engagement with external actors.

The article also illustrates that weakness was a key factor in explaining that transformation and identifies several avenues for research that could further enhance our understanding of the IK’s ideology and the role it plays.

(From the journal abstract)

Youngman, Mark. 2016. ‘Broader, Vaguer, Weaker: The Evolving Ideology of the Caucasus Emirate Leadership’. Terrorism and Political Violence 0 (0): 1–23.

Mimicry in Online Conversations: An Exploratory Study of Linguistic Analysis Techniques

A number of computational techniques have been proposed that aim to detect mimicry in online conversations. In this paper, we investigate how well these reflect the prevailing cognitive science model, i.e. the Interactive Alignment Model. We evaluate Local Linguistic Alignment, word vectors, and Language Style Matching and show that these measures tend to show the features we expect to see in the IAM, but significantly fall short of the work of human classifiers on the same data set. This reflects the need for substantial additional research on computational techniques to detect mimicry in online conversations. We suggest further work needed to measure these techniques and others more accurately.

(From the journal abstract)

Carrick, Tom, Awais Rashid, and Paul. J. Taylor. 2016. ‘Mimicry in Online Conversations: An Exploratory Study of Linguistic Analysis Techniques’. In 2016 IEEE/ACM International Conference on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining (ASONAM), 732–36.

Employees: The Front Line in Cyber Security

What happens if you lose trust in the systems on which you rely? If the displays and dashboards tell you everything is operating normally but, with your own eyes, you can see that this is not the case? This is what apparently happened with the Stuxnet virus attack on the Iranian nuclear programme in 2010.

Dr Debi Ashenden, CREST lead on protective security and risk assessment, writes that with cyber attacks set to rise, it’s important that we empower employees to defend our front line.

(From the journal abstract)

Ashenden, Debi. 2017. ‘Employees: The Front Line in Cyber Security’. The Chemical Engineer, February 2017, 908 edition. https://crestresearch.


Technology and the Formation of Socially Positive Behaviours

‘Behaviour change’ has become a buzz phrase of growing importance to policymakers and researchers. There is an increasing focus on exploring the relationship between social organisation and individual action, and on intervening to influence societal outcomes like population health and climate change. Researchers continue to grapple with methodologies, intervention strategies and ideologies around ‘social change’.

Multidisciplinary in approach, this important book draws together insights from a selection of the principal thinkers in fields including public health, transport, marketing, sustainability and technology. The book explores the political and historical landscape of behaviour change, and trends in academic theory, before examining new innovations in both practice and research. It will be a valuable resource for academics, policy makers, practitioners, researchers and students wanting to locate their thinking within this rapidly evolving field.

(From the publisher's description)

Joinson, Adam, and Lukasz Piwek. 2016. ‘Technology and the Formation of Socially Positive Behaviours’. In Beyond Behaviour Change - Key Issues, Interdisciplinary Approaches and Future Directions, edited by Fiona Spotswood. Bristol: Policy Press. Accessed 20 July 2018.

Culture Moderates Changes in Linguistic Self-Presentation and Detail Provision When Deceiving Others

Change in our language when deceiving is attributable to differences in the affective and cognitive experience of lying compared to truth telling, yet these experiences are also subject to substantial individual differences. On the basis of previous evidence of cultural differences in self-construal and remembering, we predicted and found evidence for cultural differences in the extent to which truths and lies contained self (versus other) references and perceptual (versus social) details.

Participants (N = 320) of Black African, South Asian, White European and White British ethnicity completed a catch-the-liar task in which they provided genuine and fabricated statements about either their past experiences or an opinion and counter-opinion. Across the four groups we observed a trend for using more/fewer first-person pronouns and fewer/more third-person pronouns when lying, and a trend for including more/fewer perceptual details and fewer/more social details when lying.

Contrary to predicted cultural differences in emotion expression, all participants showed more positive affect and less negative affect when lying. Our findings show that liars deceive in ways that are congruent with their cultural values and norms, and that this may result in opposing changes in behaviour.

(From the journal abstract)

Taylor, Paul J., Samuel Larner, Stacey M. Conchie, and Tarek Menacere. 2017. ‘Culture Moderates Changes in Linguistic Self-Presentation and Detail Provision When Deceiving Others’. Royal Society Open Science 4 (6).

Collective Interviewing: The Use of a Model Statement to Differentiate between Pairs of Truth-Tellers and Pairs of Liars

The current experiment examined the use of a model statement for aiding lie detection and gathering additional information during interviews in which pairs of suspects were interviewed together (i.e., collective interviewing). A model statement is an example of an answer, unrelated to the topic under investigation, which is played to suspects to demonstrate how much information the interviewer wants them to provide in response to the question asked.

Pairs of truth‐tellers visited a restaurant together, whereas pairs of liars completed a mock crime. The task for all pairs was to convince an interviewer that they were visiting a restaurant together at the time the crime was committed. Half the truth‐telling pairs and half the lying pairs were exposed to a model statement, whilst the other halves were not.

Truth‐telling pairs were more detailed and showed more interactions than lying pairs, particularly in the model statement present condition.

Being exposed to a model statement in a collective interview magnified the differences between pairs of truth‐tellers and pairs of liars in reporting detail and interacting with one another. A model statement is simple to implement and can be applied to many real‐world investigative interviewing settings whereby the focus is on lie detection and gathering as much information as possible.

(From the journal abstract)

Vernham, Zarah, Aldert Vrij, and Sharon Leal. 2018. ‘Collective Interviewing: The Use of a Model Statement to Differentiate between Pairs of Truth-Tellers and Pairs of Liars’. Legal and Criminological Psychology, July.


Individual Differences in Susceptibility to Online Influence: A Theoretical Review

Scams and other malicious attempts to influence people are continuing to proliferate across the globe, aided by the availability of technology that makes it increasingly easy to create communications that appear to come from legitimate sources. The rise in integrated technologies and the connected nature of social communications means that online scams represent a growing issue across society, with scammers successfully persuading people to click on malicious links, make fraudulent payments, or download malicious attachments.

However, current understanding of what makes people particularly susceptible to scams in online contexts, and therefore how we can effectively reduce potential vulnerabilities, is relatively poor. So why are online scams so effective? And what makes people particularly susceptible to them? This paper presents a theoretical review of literature relating to individual differences and contextual factors that may impact susceptibility to such forms of malicious influence in online contexts.

A holistic approach is then proposed that provides a theoretical foundation for research in this area, focusing on the interaction between the individual, their current context, and the influence message itself, when considering likely response behaviour.

(From the journal abstract)

Williams, Emma J., Amy Beardmore, and Adam N. Joinson. 2017. ‘Individual Differences in Susceptibility to Online Influence: A Theoretical Review’. Computers in Human Behavior 72 (July): 412–21.

Press Accept to Update Now: Individual Differences in Susceptibility to Malevolent Interruptions

Increasingly, connected communication technologies have resulted in people being exposed to fraudulent communications by scammers and hackers attempting to gain access to computer systems for malicious purposes. Common influence techniques, such as mimicking authority figures or instilling a sense of urgency, are used to persuade people to respond to malevolent messages by, for example, accepting urgent updates. An ‘accept’ response to a malevolent influence message can result in severe negative consequences for the user and for others, including the organisations they work for.

This paper undertakes exploratory research to examine individual differences in susceptibility to fraudulent computer messages when they masquerade as interruptions during a demanding memory recall primary task compared to when they are presented in a post-task phase. A mixed-methods approach was adopted to examine when and why people choose to accept or decline three types of interrupting computer update message (genuine, mimicked, and low authority) and the relative impact of such interruptions on performance of a serial recall memory primary task.

Results suggest that fraudulent communications are more likely to be accepted by users when they interrupt a demanding memory-based primary task, that this relationship is impacted by the content of the fraudulent message, and that influence techniques used in fraudulent communications can over-ride authenticity cues when individuals decide to accept an update message. Implications for theories, such as the recently proposed Suspicion, Cognition and Automaticity Model and the Integrated Information Processing Model of Phishing Susceptibility, are discussed.

(From the journal abstract)

Williams, Emma J., Phillip L. Morgan, and Adam N. Joinson. 2017. ‘Press Accept to Update Now: Individual Differences in Susceptibility to Malevolent Interruptions’. Decision Support Systems 96 (April): 119–29.

Security Dialogues: Building Better Relationships between Security and Business

In the real world, there's often a discrepancy between an organization's mandated security processes and what actually happens. The social practice of security flourishes in the space between and around formal organizational security processes.

By recognizing the value of risk management as a communication tool, security practitioners can tap opportunities to improve the security dialogue with staff.

(From the journal abstract)

Ashenden, Debi, and Darren Lawrence. 2016. ‘Security Dialogues: Building Better Relationships between Security and Business’. IEEE Security Privacy 14 (3): 82–87.

Radicalization, the Internet and Cybersecurity: Opportunities and Challenges for HCI

The idea that the internet may enable an individual to become radicalized has been of increasing concern over the last two decades. Indeed, the internet provides individuals with an opportunity to access vast amounts of information and to connect to new people and new groups.

Together, these prospects may create a compelling argument that radicalization via the internet is plausible. So, is this really the case? Can viewing ‘radicalizing’ material and interacting with others online actually cause someone to subsequently commit violent and/or extremist acts? In this article, we discuss the potential role of the internet in radicalization and relate to how cybersecurity and certain HCI ‘affordances’ may support it.

We focus on how the design of systems provides opportunities for extremist messages to spread and gain credence, and how an application of HCI and user-centered understanding of online behavior and cybersecurity might be used to counter extremist messages.

By drawing upon existing research that may be used to further understand and address internet radicalization, we discuss some future research directions and associated challenges.

(From the journal abstract)

Hinds, Joanne, and Adam Joinson. 2017. 'Radicalization, the Internet and Cybersecurity: Opportunities and Challenges for HCI'. In Human Aspects of Information Security, Privacy and Trust, 481–93. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Springer, Cham.

Research on the Timeline Technique

The research in this paper by CREST member Professor Lorraine Hope was used as the basis for our short guide to using The Timeline Technique in interviewing. The technique can be useful in helping interviewees recall and report events from a particular timeframe. In this paper it is demonstrated that using the technique aids more accurate recall of details of an event than using a free-recall approach (e.g. by asking someone to repeat everything they can remember about an event). You can download the guide here. You can download this paper via the link below the abstract.


Who? What? When? Using a timeline technique to facilitate recall of a complex event

Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Volume 2, Issue 1, March 2013, Pages 20–24
Authors: Lorraine Hope, Rebecca Mullis, Fiona Gabbert


Accurately recalling a complex multi-actor incident presents witnesses with a cognitively demanding retrieval task. Given the important role played by temporal context in the retrieval process, the current research tests an innovative timeline technique to elicit information about multiple perpetrators and their actions. Adopting a standard mock witness paradigm, participants were required to provide an account of a witnessed event. In Experiment 1, the timeline technique facilitated the reporting of more correct details than a free recall, immediately and at a two-week retention interval, at no cost to accuracy. Accounts provided using the timeline technique included more correct information about perpetrator specific actions and fewer sequencing errors. Experiment 2 examined which mnemonic components of the timeline technique might account for these effects. The benefits of exploiting memory organization and reducing cognitive constraints on information flow are likely to underpin the apparent timeline advantage.


  • Accurately recalling a complex multi-actor incident presents witnesses with a cognitively demanding retrieval task.
  • Adopting a mock witness paradigm, we tested an innovative timeline technique to elicit information about a complex crime.
  • The timeline technique facilitated reporting of more correct details than a free recall, at no cost to accuracy, both immediately and after a delay.
  • Timeline reports included more correct information about perpetrator specific actions and fewer incident sequencing errors.
  • Exploiting memory organization and reducing constraints on information flow may underpin the apparent timeline advantage.
You can download this paper at the following link:

Research on the verifiability approach in interviewing

The research in this paper contributed to the CREST guide on checkable details in interviewing. It demonstrates a method interviewers can use to aid in determining whether someone is telling the truth or not. You can download the guide here. For more information on the research behind the guide you can download this paper via the link below.


The Verifiability Approach: Countermeasures Facilitate its Ability to Discriminate Between Truths and Lies

Applied Cognitive Psychology
Volume 28 Issue 1 (January/February 2014), Pages 122-128
Author(s): Galit Nahari, Aldert Vrij, Ronald P. Fisher
DOI: 10.1002/acp.2974


According to the verifiability approach, liars tend to provide details that cannot be checked by the investigator and awareness of this increases the investigator's ability to detect lies. In the present experiment, we replicated previous findings in a more realistic paradigm and examined the vulnerability of the verifiability approach to countermeasures. For this purpose, we collected written statements from 44 mock criminals (liars) and 43 innocents (truth tellers), whereas half of them were told before writing the statements that the verifiability of their statements will be checked. Results showed that ‘informing’ encouraged truth tellers but not liars to provide more verifiable details and increased the ability to detect lies. These findings suggest that verifiability approach is less vulnerable to countermeasures than other lie detection tools. On the contrary, in the current experiment, notifying interviewees about the mechanism of the approach benefited lie detection.

You can download this paper at the following link.

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