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Psychological Strategies for the Defence Against Terrorism

Abstract

Various subdisciplines of psychology are relevant to the defence against terrorism, in terms of anti-terrorism, counter-terrorism, and terrorism consequence management. Anti-Terrorism: Psychological methods can be applied to reduce vulnerabilities to attack and to encourage the general public to identify infrastructure and other vulnerabilities. Counter-Terrorism: Psychological techniques are available to assess and improve terrorism awareness in the general population. The detection performance of counter-terrorism personnel can be improved: psychological methods can enhance situation awareness, situated cognition, detection capabilities, and decision-making; automated expert system tools employing fuzzy signal detection can assist personnel; other psychological techniques can enhance individual and team function, personnel selection and training. Psychological principles can also be applied to obstruct and impede terrorist functioning. Consequence Management: Psychological methods can be used to enhance capabilities of first responders, improve escape and evacuation procedures for civilians, promote resilience in the general population, and treat victims of terrorism more effectively. We propose possible configurations for psychological consulting teams who would help defence authorities use these strategies to address terrorist activity.
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Psychological Strategies for the Defence Against Terrorism
Mark E. Koltko-Rivera, Ph.D.
Director of Research
Professional Services Group, Inc.
P.O. Box 4914
Winter Park, Florida 32793-4914 USA
P. A. Hancock, D.Sc., Ph.D.
Department of Psychology and Institute for Simulation and Training
University of Central Florida
P.O. Box 161390
Orlando, Florida 32816-1390 USA
E-mail: mark@professionalservicesgroup.net / phancock@pegasus.cc.ucf.edu
SUMMARY
Various subdisciplines of psychology are relevant to the defence against terrorism, in terms of anti-terrorism,
counter-terrorism, and terrorism consequence management. Anti-Terrorism: Psychological methods can be
applied to reduce vulnerabilities to attack and to encourage the general public to identify infrastructure and
other vulnerabilities. Counter-Terrorism: Psychological techniques are available to assess and improve
terrorism awareness in the general population. The detection performance of counter-terrorism personnel can
be improved: psychological methods can enhance situation awareness, situated cognition, detection
capabilities, and decision-making; automated expert system tools employing fuzzy signal detection can assist
personnel; other psychological techniques can enhance individual and team function, personnel selection and
training. Psychological principles can also be applied to obstruct and impede terrorist functioning.
Consequence Management: Psychological methods can be used to enhance capabilities of first responders,
improve escape and evacuation procedures for civilians, promote resilience in the general population, and
treat victims of terrorism more effectively. We propose possible configurations for psychological consulting
teams who would help defence authorities use these strategies to address terrorist activity.
1.0 INTRODUCTION
Defence against terrorism (DAT) is often discussed in terms of technological innovations and technical
barriers to terrorist success. This includes considerations of surveillance and intelligence; naval, air, space,
and land-based military sciences; information and communication technology; security engineering; radiation
technology; sensors and telemetry; imaging technology; weapons science, and so forth. As valuable as these
disciplines are for DAT, it is our opinion that the traditional social sciences have critical contributions to make
in this area. In particular, we propose that psychology has much to offer in furthering DAT. As we hope to
demonstrate, psychological comprehension is crucial for successful DAT in all its forms.
Much of what has been written about psychological approaches to terrorism has focused on understanding the
internal psychology of the terrorist, the sociocultural roots of terrorism, the social psychology of terrorism’s
Paper presented at the RTO SCI Symposium on “Systems, Concepts and Integration (SCI) Methods and Technologies for
Defence Against Terrorism,” held in London, United Kingdom, 25-27 October 2004, and published in RTO-MP-SCI-158.
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aftermath, and public policy about terrorism [1-11]. As valuable as these contributions are, our intent here is
to embrace a much broader view of psychology’s potential impact on DAT. In this limited space, we cannot
deal with all of psychology; thus, we ‘bracket,’ or leave for other venues, the pressing questions of how
terrorism begins and how its psychosocial origins can be addressed. Rather, we focus here on how psychology
can help security and intelligence personnel prevent or respond to specific terrorist acts, and how psychology
can help ameliorate the consequences of those acts.
Consider the stereotypical psychologist: a clinician who reclines in a padded armchair, analyzing societal
problems in terms of difficulties with early toilet training, and reacting to every client statement with such
canned responses as “How does that make you feel?” This stereotype not only seriously misrepresents even
clinicians, it ignores the great number of experimental psychologists and related neuroscientists who do not
engage in clinical work at all. Psychology is an extraordinarily wide umbrella covering many subdisciplines,
such as human factors and ergonomics (i.e., the science of human performance and human-machine
interaction), cognitive psychology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, social and personality psychology,
consumer psychology, counseling and psychotherapy, and cultural differences in behavior, to mention only a
few subdisciplines. Psychologists design measures of attitudes and behavior, study the interaction of humans
with machines, and design research to test programs to improve human performance in many kinds of
environments. As we demonstrate below, many subdisciplines within psychology are applicable to DAT.
In this work, we outline contributions that the discipline of psychology can make within each of the three
facets of DAT: Anti-Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism, and Consequence Management. Throughout our
presentation, we identify psychological methods, specialty areas, and topics (italicized below) that are
particularly pertinent to DAT. It is our hope that civil and military authorities will consider implementing
psychological approaches and technologies, as these authorities grapple with the challenges of defending
against terrorism.
A few words are necessary concerning our approach in this work. Being mindful that a paper such as this may
find its way into the hands of many different kinds of DAT personnel, we have chosen to reference this work
rather thoroughly, including not only basic reference works, but also specialized texts, and recent conference
proceedings. Our intent in doing this is to enable the reader, who may need to develop a brief on potential
psychological contributions for others in the chain of command, to self-educate in the areas we touch upon,
should the need arise. In addition, we have defined as “psychological” much research and theory where
psychology overlaps with other fields. (For example, although we describe artificial intelligence, or AI, as a
psychological specialty area, AI obviously owes a great deal to the discipline of mathematics as well). In
doing this, our intention is not to deemphasize the importance of other fields, but to be inclusive in
demonstrating the contributions that psychology has to make to DAT.
2.0 PSYCHOLOGY AND ANTI-TERRORISM
Since the founding of NATO, its member nations have been open societies, with relatively permeable borders,
unsecured infrastructures, easily accessed information and communication systems, and populations who have
enjoyed life without open warfare within their own borders for now more than five decades. The threat of
terrorism exposes the vulnerability of open, peaceful societies in multiple ways. Unsecured infrastructures and
easily accessed information and communication systems are each eminently vulnerable to attack. Easily
traversed borders facilitate travel for friend and foe alike. Populations that are accustomed to years of
domestic peace may be unfamiliar with, or insensitive to, signs of terrorist preparation.
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Anti-terrorism involves defensive measures to reduce the vulnerability to attack presented by populations,
territory, infrastructure, and information and communications systems. Psychological methods can be used to
promote anti-terrorism by furthering two objectives: reducing and identifying vulnerabilities.
2.1 Apply Human Factors and Ergonomics Principles to Reduce Vulnerabilities
Post-9/11, there has been much effort devoted to designing or renovating buildings to address security issues;
such concerns are evident in recent design criteria for U.S. federal buildings [12]. The disciplines of
psychology and engineering overlap in the subdiscipline of human factors and ergonomics (HF/E). This
specialty uses knowledge of human abilities and limitations for the design of systems, organizations, jobs,
machines, and other physical objects for safe, efficient, and comfortable human use (adapted from [13], p. 4).
One sub-specialty within this broad area involves the use of HF/E principles in architecture and interior
design; these principles can be used to implement security and evacuation enhancements as part of a complete
design strategy [14]. This can be seen as a variation of environmental design research in psychology, which
focuses on the quality of fabricated environments [15]. Principles from HF/E and environmental design
research should be implemented, both to design new structures and systems, and to retrofit older structures
and systems, to reduce vulnerability to terrorism. For example, a wealth of suggestions have been made to
increase aviation security through the implementation of HF/E principles [16].
One type of anti-terrorist activity involves the use of so-called “red teams.” These are teams of anti-terrorist
personnel devoted to discovering and correcting a system’s areas of vulnerability, before terrorists find these
liabilities. Although often applied against cyberterrorism, red teams can in principle be applied against any
type of terrorist threat. HF/E researchers have studied anti-cyberterrorism red teams, an activity that has
yielded suggestions for improved red team effectiveness [17]. Similar research studies would likely improve
the function of red teams deployed against other types of terrorism, as well.
2.2 Enlist the Aid of the Populace in Identifying Vulnerabilities
As the terrorists themselves have shown, it is possible for low-tech terrorism strategies to circumvent
relatively sophisticated security procedures. It would be appropriate for security authorities to attempt to
anticipate such attacks, by enlisting the combined intellectual power of their own populace through the use of
behavioral reinforcement techniques [18, 19]. That is, through the use of mechanisms of reward and schedules
of reinforcement, security authorities may encourage members of the public to report potential vulnerabilities
in infrastructure, target-likely buildings, and so forth. (This idea bears a distant familial resemblance to
various “Crimestoppers” and “Crime Tips” programs, in which members of the public may anonymously
report information bearing on crimes, for monetary reward; such programs have resulted in many
prosecutions. Our idea, however, involves the proactive detection of vulnerabilities, rather than the reactive
reporting of criminal activities.) A variation on this idea would be to use reinforcement techniques to shape
the behavior of volunteer security forces patrolling unsecured infrastructure. This is the idea behind the
Airport Rangers, a volunteer force on horseback that patrols an international airport in Texas [20]. Another
variation on this idea would be to encourage selected professionals (e.g., human factors professionals,
structural engineers, computer professionals) to come forth with their observations of systemic or particular
vulnerabilities [21]— volunteer professional red teams, as it were.
Some have written of the “impossibility of completeness” inherent in attempts to prevent terrorism at or along
the way to potential targets ([10], p. 38). Although absolute completeness may be impossible, enlisting the
assistance of a national or local population in identifying problem areas will surely yield valuable information
about infrastructure vulnerabilities that we would not otherwise possess.
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3.0 PSYCHOLOGY AND COUNTER-TERRORISM
Each terrorist activity has a cyclical form, involving the stages of planning, preparation, execution, escape,
and evaluation. (Of course, suicide attacks do not involve escape or evaluation by the terrorists most directly
involved.) Successful completion of the cycle means that the terrorist can begin the cycle anew, perhaps
spiraling to some larger scale of attack. However, each stage presents at least some opportunity for security
authorities to interfere with the cycle. Interrupting this cycle comprises counter-terrorism.
More precisely, counter-terrorism involves offensive measures to track down, prevent, deter, and interdict
terrorist activities. Psychological methods can be applied to counter-terrorism to meet three important
objectives: increased population alertness to terrorist activity, improved detection performance of security and
intelligence personnel, and increased obstruction of terrorist functioning.
3.1 Make the Populace Alert to Signs of Incipient Terrorist Activity
Lightning rarely strikes from a clear sky. Similarly, terrorism rarely if ever occurs without preparation.
Terrorists travel. Materials, transportation, lodging, training, and access to targets must be purchased. Targets
must be researched and surveilled. Destructive materials must be appropriately placed. An alert populace may
be able to detect and report preparations for terrorist activity before terrorist acts are executed. This may
involve reporting specific patterns of activity (e.g., unusual purchases). In addition, an alert populace may be
able to detect and report events that indicate that a terrorist activity is in the midst of execution. For example,
this may involve reporting the presence of suspicious objects (e.g., abandoned packages). Several
psychological methods and specialty areas are applicable to the task of making a population more alert to
signs of terrorist preparations, through the assessment and improvement of terrorism awareness.
3.1.1 Assess Terrorism Awareness
Before we can change behavior towards an ideal, we must have a sense of what the current state is, and how
this state deviates from the ideal we have established. Assessment techniques can be devised to gauge levels of
individual and group awareness regarding signs of potential terrorism. The psychological subdiscipline
psychometrics possesses well-established techniques to develop assessment methods that are valid and reliable
[22, 23]. The basic objectives of assessment research should be (1) to define what is meant by terrorism
awareness, both in general and in terms of its components; (2) to develop valid and reliable assessment
techniques for each of the components of terrorism awareness; (3) to gather valid data about the populace’s
terrorism awareness using these techniques; and, (4) to identify strengths and weaknesses in the populace’s
terrorism awareness. Once these basic objectives are met, a further worthy objective would be (5) to identify
conditions that tend towards greater and lesser terrorism awareness.
3.1.2 Improve Terrorism Awareness in the General Population
Once we have a sense of the level of terrorism awareness present in the populace, and a sense of what
components of terrorism awareness show particular need for improvement, we are in a position to attempt to
improve the social level of terrorism awareness. Three psychological specialty areas are relevant to this area:
educational psychology, methods of persuasion, and program evaluation.
One approach to improving terrorism awareness involves overt instruction ([10], p. 39). Psychology has a
long history of research into learning methods as an aspect of educational psychology. Much of this research
addresses ways to enhance or optimize learning [24, 25], and this research should be applied to designing
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instructional methods for increasing the terrorism awareness of the general public. Although much educational
research deals with schoolchildren, a great deal of this research is applicable to adults as well. (For that matter,
classroom instruction of children in terrorism awareness should not be overlooked.)
Another approach to improving the public’s counter-terrorism behavior involves methods of persuasion, a
topic of psychological research for a long time [26-31]. A subfield of consumer psychology that combines the
psychology of instruction with that of persuasion is the area of “social marketing,” which has the objective of
changing personal and social behavior, typically to further some societal goal [32-36].
Of course, a program to improve terrorism awareness is only as good as the changes it actually creates in
personal and social behavior. To assess these changes, program evaluation methodologies are crucial [37-39].
3.2 Improve Detection Performance of Counter-Terrorism Personnel
Psychology has much to offer in terms of improving the performance of counter-terrorism personnel, who are
in the front lines of terrorism prevention. This applies both to personnel in immediate security, such as airport
baggage screeners, and to more meta-level professionals, such as intelligence agents. Psychology’s potential
contributions involve enhancing the psychological capacities of these personnel for detection, giving these
personnel improved tools to use for detection, helping these personnel to perform better as parts of teams,
helping administrators to select appropriate personnel for counter-terrorism, and training personnel more
effectively following their screened selection.
3.2.1 Enhance Detection Capabilities of Counter-Terrorism Personnel
It is well-known that baggage screeners’ detection of weapons carried by passengers at American airports was
not optimal, even as late as 2003 [40]. It is also well-known that American intelligence agencies’ detection of
the threat posed by terrorists in 2001 was faulted in the 9/11 Commission’s report [41]. These two portions of
the counter-terrorism spectrum share some characteristics. At a high level of abstraction, all counter-terrorism
personnel are engaged in the detection of relatively rare but potentially catastrophic events. For baggage
screeners, the task is to detect the presence of small weapons of interpersonal violence or mass destruction; for
intelligence agents, the task is to detect patterns of activity suggestive of preparations for terrorist activity.
Ultimately, then, the task facing each type of personnel involves the use of two crucial psychological faculties
involved in detection of a terrorist threat: attention (that is, the capacity to detect and attend to crucial stimuli)
and decision-making. HF/E and cognitive psychology are subdisciplines that address these crucial
psychological capacities.
HF/E has amassed considerable research-based insight that can be used to address several issues relevant to
the attentional performance of counter-terrorism personnel. These issues include vigilance [1, 16, 42-44],
focused attention [45], selective and divided attention [46], stress and fatigue [47, 48], and signal detection
[49]. HF/E researchers have investigated very specific aspects of cognition and human performance relevant
to counter-terrorism; for example, some researchers have investigated the function of mental rotation within a
baggage screening task [50].
Some HF/E scientists are involved in research regarding neuroergonomics, the study of the brain and behavior
when a person is working [51, 52]. This research is relevant to counter-terrorism. For example, some current
neuroergonomic research involves the study of brain function during baggage screening tasks, as performance
degrades with fatigue [53]. More generally, the study of continuous wakefulness and consequent fatigue, and
the effect of these variables on performance of military personnel, is a long-standing area of concern in HF/E
[54-56]. This research is applicable to the improvement of performance for counter-terrorism personnel.
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There are different ways in which HF/E researchers have addressed attention. One involves the concept of
situation awareness:
The formal definition of situation awareness is ‘the perception of the elements in the environment
within a volume of time and space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of
their status in the near future.’ The term situation awareness comes from the world of the military
pilot, where achieving high levels of situation awareness was found to be both critical and
challenging early in aviation history.… The importance of situation awareness as a foundation for
decision making and performance applies to almost every field of endeavor. ([57], p. 13, citation
and some italics omitted, abbreviation expanded)
A great deal of HF/E research and theory has focused on situation awareness ([57-64]; see also multiple
papers in [65, 66]). It is likely that some of the research that has focused on situation awareness in military
personnel [67-70] will prove useful in improving the situation awareness of counter-terrorism personnel.
Another way in which HF/E scientists have addressed attention recently is through the concept of situated
cognition [71, 72]. At the risk of oversimplifying, we may say that if situation awareness is a still photograph,
situated cognition is a motion picture. Situated cognition follows the way in which information about a given
situation is processed, from “ground truth,” through several conceptual lenses, to a given decision maker’s
projection or interpretation of the situation. It is likely that research involving situated awareness will be
useful in improving the performance of a wide variety of counter-terrorism personnel.
HF/E researchers have also emphasized research on decision-making ([73, 74]; see also multiple papers in
[65, 66]). In particular, human factors researchers have focused much attention on decision-making under
stressful conditions, often in military contexts [75-79]. Much of this research is relevant to the decision-
making challenges facing counter-terrorism personnel.
Some HF/E research has specifically focused on describing and improving the work of intelligence analysts
through focusing on cognitive factors in intelligence analysis [80-86]. Cognitive modeling has been applied
successfully to understanding and improving the function of, for example, aviation crews [87], and is
beginning to be applied to intelligence analysts [88]. It is to be expected that cognitive modeling research will
improve performance when applied to counter-terrorism teams and individual personnel.
As it happens, situation awareness and situated cognition may be considered as special cases of more general
constructs, such as directed consciousness [89, 90]; this means that a great deal of cognitive research is
relevant to the task of improving detection capacity in counter-terrorism. Cognitive psychology researchers
have amassed an enormous literature of laboratory studies concerning attention [91-94], decision-making [95-
98], and reasoning [99-104]. Application of this research to counter-terrorism may result in improved
detection performance for security personnel and intelligence agents.
3.2.2 Equip Counter-Terrorist Personnel with Psychologically Sophisticated Automated Tools
As mentioned earlier, to speak highly abstractly, counter-terrorism personnel at all levels are involved in
signal detection. However, especially for intelligence agents, the task involved departs significantly from the
classical signal detection paradigm. It is not just that there is a great deal of noise obscuring the signals of
preparation for terrorist activity. To make the situation much more complicated, the signals themselves are not
necessarily signals, as it were. To use a simple example, sometimes a person purchasing a large amount of
agricultural fertilizer simply has a large farm; sometimes such a person is using the fertilizer to produce
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powerful explosives for terrorist activity. The purchase of large quantities of fertilizer, then, is not a
straightforward signal of terrorist activity. Rather, such a purchase is what is technically referred to as a
“fuzzy signal”: sometimes the signal denotes terrorism, but most often it does not.
To supplement classical signal detection approaches, HF/E researchers have been working to develop fuzzy
signal detection theory and applications [105, 106]. This approach can be implemented on artificial
intelligence platforms derived from cognitive psychology [107] to create expert systems for detection of fuzzy
signals [108]. Thus, it would be possible to develop an automated expert system to analyze data (e.g., patterns
of purchases, travel, Internet activity) with fuzzy signal detection techniques, and alert counter-terrorism
authorities to the detection of patterns that suggest preparations for terrorist activities. (Elsewhere in this
symposium, the first author describes the conceptual outlines of such a system; [109]). Use of expert systems
implementing fuzzy signal detection also has been advocated for commercial aviation security [42].
3.2.3 Enhance Team Function of Counter-Terrorism Personnel
Counter-terrorist personnel typically function as members of teams. Complicating the issue, members of a
given team (e.g., intelligence analysts) may be scattered across several physical locations, and thus must
function as distributed or virtual teams. In addition, some teams include “members” who are artificial
intelligence constructs, or (artificially) intelligent agents. Despite these complications, effective team
performance is essential to all counter-terrorism functions.
Researchers in HF/E and industrial-organizational (I/O) psychology have studied team functioning for some
time, with an eye toward assessing and improving team function ([16, 110-115]; see also multiple papers in
[64, 65]). Some research has focused specifically on distributed or virtual teams, and teams that include
(artificially) intelligent agents [116-120]. A great deal of this research is applicable to the challenges faced by
counter-terrorist teams.
As counter-terrorism teams increasingly become multicultural or multinational in composition, issues of
cultural worldview and acculturation can be expected to affect team performance. Worldviews are sets of
assumptions about physical and social reality that have important effects on behavior [121]. Research
demonstrates that some dimensions of worldview affect team performance [122, 123]. It is expected that
future research will show that team performance is affected by several more dimensions of worldview, and by
differences within a team in terms of worldview and acculturation [124]. Use of psychological techniques to
address worldview and acculturation may enhance counter-terrorism team performance.
3.2.4 Use Psychologically Sophisticated Methods to Select and Train Counter-Terrorism Personnel
Present indications suggest that the need for all types of counter-terrorism personnel will continue to increase.
counter-terrorism work includes some very stressful occupations; for all counter-terrorism work, the
consequences of performing well as opposed to poorly may determine the difference between life and death,
perhaps for thousands of individuals. It is thus worthwhile to put a great deal of thought and effort into
appropriate personnel selection, training, and development, for all levels of counter-terrorism personnel.
Personnel psychology has amassed a large research base, and is an area of very active research with regard to
recruitment and selection [1, 125, 126]; some of this research focuses on military contexts [127]. Recent years
have seen a great deal of sophisticated research involving the application of personality psychology to
personnel selection [128, 129], as well as continued research into the relationship of various personal
characteristics to performance; much of this research has occurred in military contexts [130-133]. A great deal
of this research is directly applicable to the matter of selecting new counter-terrorism personnel.
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Training and development also has long been a concern of psychological research, both for I/O psychologists
generally [134], and for HF/E researchers seeking to improve military training [135]. Of course, the research
mentioned above addressing ways to enhance learning and instruction [24, 25] should be applied to the
instruction of counter-terrorism personnel. Lately, some research activity has focused on evaluating the
effectiveness of training, specifically in military contexts [136]. Here, too, much accumulated research is
directly applicable to training of counter-terrorist personnel.
Simulations, including virtual role playing, can be a useful component of a training program [137]. In recent
years, HF/E researchers have used the scaled worlds approach to designing computerized simulations for
training, often in military settings [138]. Scaled world simulations have also been developed specifically for
first-responder functions within a terrorism context [139]. We expect that further use of this technology will
be effective in training all levels of counter-terrorism personnel.
The use of virtual reality (VR) for training has been the subject of a great deal of research [140], including
some research specifically focused on VR training for high-risk jobs [1], for work involving teams [141], and
for national defence [142]. We expect that VR training will prove to be effective in training counter-terrorism
personnel.
One aspect of training and development that would be useful for counter-terrorism personnel involves
cognitive enhancement. This is our term for several lines of scientific research that focus on the nature or
enhancement of personal intellect or intelligence [143-145], creativity [145-149], intuition [150], and even
wisdom [145, 151-152]. Each of these cognitive capacities can be used to detect or even anticipate possible
terrorist activities.
A creative, imaginative approach to anticipating potential terrorist activities is in order. As the 9/11
Commission Report noted, “Imagination is not a gift usually associated with bureaucracies. … [However,] it
is … crucial to find a way of routinizing, even bureaucratizing, the exercise of imagination” [41, p. 344]. Such
exercises could prove highly useful in anticipating potential terrorist activities. For example, occasionally it
has been claimed that no one could have predicted that the 9/11 terrorists would use airplanes as missiles to
attack the World Trade Center. In fact, however, the use of hijacked passenger jet airplanes as missiles in an
attack on the World Trade Center was anticipated over six months before the 9/11 attacks—in a television
drama. The creativity that the television writer and producer Chris Carter showed in the pilot episode of his
short-lived television series, “The Lone Gunmen” [153], would be useful for counter-terrorism work.
3.3 Obstruct Terrorist Functioning
Broadly speaking, there are at least two ways in which psychological research and theory may be applied to
the task of obstructing terrorist functioning. These may be called methods based on terrorist observation and
general user obstruction, respectively.
3.3.1 Apply Methods Based on Terrorist Observation
In any given terrorist activity, the terrorists involved use specific tactics and methods. Learning these specific
tactics and methods may suggest ways to defend against them. For example, some researchers, through
studying actual hackers with qualitative research techniques, have successfully identified specific tactics and
methods that are relevant to cyberterrorism [154], a research strategy that may suggest methods of defence.
More generally, it may be possible to use such research techniques with terrorists in custody, to identify
specific terrorist approaches against which defences may be devised.
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3.3.2 Apply Principles of Operator Obstruction
In some ways, terrorists are a distorted mirror image of intelligence and security personnel. Defence personnel
function in teams; terrorists function in cells. Defence personnel gather intelligence; so do terrorists. Defence
personnel engage in complex planning and decision-making; terrorists do the same. In short, terrorists face
some of the same sort of challenges for effective cognitive and behavioral functioning that defence personnel
do. In turn, this means that the same sorts of psychological research that is relevant to enhancing the
functioning of defence personnel is relevant to impeding the functioning of terrorists. It is a matter of applying
the same research—but in reverse. We may refer to this as applying principles of operator obstruction.
There are certain situations in which scientists may wish to prevent or impede personal functioning, rather
than enhance that functioning [155]. For example, we accept the need to devise drug containers that are
difficult to open—for children. Likewise, we exert much effort to make computer networks less accessible to
hackers, at the same time that we try to make them more accessible to authorized users. Similarly, the many
principles that HF/E scientists use to enhance performance can be inverted, as it were, to make terrorists and
their cells less effective. Although specific examples are outside the scope of this document and its security
classification, defence officials would be well advised to consult with specialists in HF/E and I/O psychology
for help in devising programs to obstruct terrorist functioning.
4.0 PSYCHOLOGY AND CONSEQUENCE MANAGEMENT
At least into the foreseeable future, it seems likely that, despite our best efforts at prevention, some terrorist
acts will occur. Consequence management involves measures to (1) limit the consequences of terrorist attacks,
and (2) stabilize the situation in the aftermath of such attacks, in support of civilian authorities. Psychological
methods can be applied to consequence management to enhance capabilities of first responders to terrorist
incidents, to improve escape and evacuation procedures, to promote general resilience, and to treat victims
effectively.
4.1 Enhance Capabilities of First Responders to Terrorist Incidents
We have already noted the relevance of research into situation awareness (SA) and situated cognition (SC) to
the matter of improving the performance of counter-terrorism personnel. These same bodies of research are
relevant to first responders to terrorist incidents (i.e., police, fire, and emergency medical personnel). Much
like civil aviation and military personnel, for whom the concepts of SA and SC were first developed, the
effectiveness of first responders depends upon their accurate awareness and understand of critical aspects of
their environment, with life and death consequences. Improving the situation awareness and situated cognition
of first responders should improve their effectiveness in responding to terrorist incidents. In addition, research
into decision-making [73-79] is applicable to first responders, as it is to counter-terrorism personnel. HF/E
scientists have amassed a large body of research relevant to improving the function of first responders.
First responders, of course, typically function as members of teams. We also noted earlier the relevance of
research regarding team function to the matter of improving the performance of counter-terrorism personnel
[110-120]. This same body of research is relevant to improving the performance of first responders.
Earlier we noted the need for counter-terrorism personnel to have sophisticated tools. The same need exists for
first responders. HF/E researchers have participated in the creation of such software tools as the Enhanced
Consequence Management Planning and Support System (ENCOMPASS), which supports the information
needs of multiple distributed first responder agencies, and the Domestic Emergency Response Information
System, which supports emergency responses among multiple organizations responding to a crisis [1].
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4.2 Improve Escape and Evacuation Procedures for Civilians
Post-9/11, there has been a renewal of research interest regarding how people react during fires and other
occasions requiring building evacuations and emergency egress [1, 156]. HF/E researchers have long been
concerned with the design of effective emergency signage and alarms for a civilian population [157, 158].
This research is highly relevant to the matter of designing escape and evacuation procedures for those present
at the site of a terrorist attack. (Incidentally, researchers in these fields have also studied how to make alarms
for first responders and military personnel more effective [159, 160].)
4.3 Promote Resilience in the General Population
One way to manage the consequences of terrorism is to take a proactive position: take steps to make the
general population less vulnerable to some of the psychological effects of terrorism. This involves applying
research regarding resilience, a topic focused upon by the subdiscipline of positive psychology. Resilience is a
normal human process [161], but the capacity for resilience is not equally distributed across the population;
resilience may vary with personal worldviews [121]. In recent years, researchers in positive psychology have
made a good start at conducting research concerning human strengths [162-165], resistance to depression
[166], inner “toughness” in the face of adversity [167, 168], and resilience [169-171], including specifically
resilience in the face of terrorism [172-173]. Stress exposure training has been recommended for the military
[177]; it may well be useful for the general population as well. This research is applicable to the construction
of large-scale programs to promote the development of resilience among the general population. The effect of
such an effort would be to make the population less vulnerable to some of the negative psychological effects
of terrorist attack.
4.4 Treat Victims Effectively
We have come to understand much concerning the negative effects of a terrorist attack on mental and
emotional health [178-181]. The American Psychological Association has provided information to the public
to help people to cope with the aftermath of terrorism [182, 183]. Victims of terrorist attacks should be treated
with appropriate post-traumatic and crisis psychological treatment. Psychology now has theoretical
frameworks for understanding the psychological effects of terrorism (e.g., [184]). Although we yet have much
to learn about appropriate treatment following 9/11-style catastrophes, we have some clinical advice for
community-level intervention [185]; some effective and promising treatments for post-traumatic stress
disorder in general have been identified [186, 187; cp. 188], including virtual reality therapy [189]. Research
has also addressed treatment of military personnel following terrorist attack [190]. This entire research and
clinical literature is applicable to the effective treatment of victims of terrorist attack.
Finally, some clinical advice is available to help practitioners cope with the challenges of working with
victims of trauma other than terrorism [191]. It may be expected that many of these guidelines will apply to
practitioners treating victims of terrorism.
5.0 CONCLUSION AND OUTLOOK
We have here indicated the multiple ways in which various psychological subdisciplines can and indeed
should contribute to DAT. There are several ways in which readers can apply this knowledge.
On one level, it would be appropriate to implement psychological expertise within a specific program,
department, or government ministry. For example, it would be appropriate to call in psychological consultants
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to consider the functioning of a specific counter-terrorism program. On a wider scale, it would be appropriate
to form a core of psychologists to consult on national or regional DAT as a whole. Our sense of the situation
is that, the wider the scale of psychological intervention, the greater the benefit.
A comprehensive team of psychologists addressing DAT should be composed of representatives of several
subdisciplines. Ideally, these would include specialists in human factors and ergonomics (useful in many
areas, as noted above), industrial/organizational psychology (particularly specialists in team assessment and
enhancement), psychometrics (to develop appropriate assessment instruments), educational psychology (to
develop and assess instructional programs), social and personality psychology (specifically specialists on
influence and persuasion), cognitive psychology (for cognitive enhancement), clinical psychology (for
therapeutic intervention), and counseling psychology (specifically specialists in positive psychology and
resilience). A team meant to address the issues we bracketed earlier (that is, the psychosocial origins of terror)
should include specialists in social and personality psychology who are focused on those issues. In either case,
the team leader should be someone with qualifications in general psychology; this possibly misleading
designation refers to a special approach in psychology that is focused on unifying psychology, building
bridges between and among the many specialties and subdisciplines within psychology [192].
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7.0 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This work was supported in part by a grant from the U.S. Army’s Army Research Organization (Grant No.
DAAD 19-01-1-0621: Multiple University Research Initiative—Operator Performance Under Stress [MURI-
OPUS]), Dr. P.A. Hancock, Principal Investigator. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors
and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of the Army, Department of
Defense, Department of Homeland Security, or the U.S. Government.
Psychological Strategies for the
Defense Against Terrorism (DAT)
Mark E. Koltko-Rivera
Peter A. Hancock
NATO RTO-MP-SCI-158
Outline
zWhat is “Psychology”?
zPsychology and Anti-Terrorism
zPsychology and Counter-Terrorism
zPsychology and Consequence Management
zA Psychological Team for DAT
Outline
zWhat is “Psychology”?
zPsychology and Anti-Terrorism
zPsychology and Counter-Terrorism
zPsychology and Consequence Management
zA Psychological Team for DAT
What Is Psychology? 1
zHuman Factors and Ergonomics
zCognitive Science
zSocial Psychology
zCross-Cultural Psychology
zCounseling and Clinical Psychology
What Is Psychology? 2
zEducational Psychology
zConsumer Psychology
zEnvironmental Design Psychology
zPsychometrics
What Psychologists Study
zPersonality ÎBehavior
zArtificial Intelligence
zTeam Performance
zHuman Interaction with Computers
What Psychologists Do
zMeasure attitudes, behavior
zImprove performance under stress and in
extreme environments
zCreate models and simulations
Outline
zWhat is “Psychology”?
zPsychology and Anti-Terrorism
zPsychology and Counter-Terrorism
zPsychology and Consequence Management
zA Psychological Team for DAT
Psychology and Anti-Terrorism
zReduce vulnerabilities.
zEnhance function of “red teams.”
Psychology and Anti-Terrorism
Reduce vulnerabilities:
zHuman Factors science
zEnvironmental Design research
Psychology and Anti-Terrorism
Enhance function of “red teams”:
zCognitive Task Analysis
zTeam Function Enhancement
Outline
zWhat is “Psychology”?
zPsychology and Anti-Terrorism
zPsychology and Counter-Terrorism
zPsychology and Consequence Management
zA Psychological Team for DAT
Psychology and Counter-Terrorism
zIncrease terrorism awareness.
zImprove detection performance of counter-
terrorism personnel.
zObstruct terrorist activities.
Psychology and Counter-Terrorism
zIncrease terrorism awareness.
zImprove detection performance of counter-
terrorism personnel.
zObstruct terrorist activities.
Increasing Terrorism Awareness
Psychometrics
Assess terrorism awareness:
zDefine “terrorism awareness.”
zDevelop assessment methods.
zGather data.
zIdentify strengths and weaknesses.
Increasing Terrorism Awareness
Improve terrorism awareness:
zEducational psychology
zMethods of persuasion
z“Social marketing”
zProgram evaluation
Psychology and Counter-Terrorism
zIncrease terrorism awareness.
zImprove detection performance of counter-
terrorism personnel.
zObstruct terrorist activities.
Improve Detection Performance of
Counter-Terrorism Personnel
zEnhance detection abilities.
zSupply sophisticated tools.
zEnhance team function.
zProvide advanced training.
Improve Detection Performance of
Counter-Terrorism Personnel
Enhance detection abilities:
zAttention and Decision-Making
zHuman Factors and Cognitive Psychology
zNeuroergonomics
zSituation Awareness and Situated Cognition
zCognitive Modeling
Improve Detection Performance of
Counter-Terrorism Personnel
Supply sophisticated tools:
zFuzzy signal detection theory
zArtificial intelligence expert systems
Improve Detection Performance of
Counter-Terrorism Personnel
Enhance team function:
zDistributed teams
zHuman Factors
zIndustrial-Organizational Psychology
zWorldview and Acculturation
Improve Detection Performance of
Counter-Terrorism Personnel
Provide advanced training:
zSimulations and Virtual Reality
z“Scaled Worlds” / Microworlds technique
zCognitive Enhancement
zImagination
The Lone Gunmen, Pilot: 4 Mar. 2001
4 Mar. 2001
Psychology and Counter-Terrorism
zIncrease terrorism awareness.
zImprove detection performance of counter-
terrorism personnel.
zObstruct terrorist activities.
Obstruct Terrorist Activities
Terrorist observation
zQualitative research methods
zCognitive Task Analysis
General operator obstruction
zHuman factors principles—in reverse
Outline
zWhat is “Psychology”?
zPsychology and Anti-Terrorism
zPsychology and Counter-Terrorism
zPsychology and Consequence Management
zA Psychological Team for DAT
Psychology and Consequence
Management
zEnhance capabilities of first responders.
zImprove escape and evacuation procedures.
zPromote resilience in the population.
zTreat victims effectively.
Psychology and Consequence
Management
Enhance capabilities of first responders:
zSituation Awareness and Situated Cognition
zDecision-making
zTeam function
zSophisticated tools
Psychology and Consequence
Management
Improve escape and evacuation procedures:
zHuman factors research
zSignage
zAlarms
zEmergency egress
Psychology and Consequence
Management
Promote resilience in the population:
z“Positive psychology” research
zHuman strengths
zResilience and “toughness” research
zStress exposure training
Psychology and Consequence
Management
Treat victims effectively:
zPost-traumatic treatment
zCrisis psychology
zVirtual reality therapy
zTreatment for military and responders
zHelp for clinicians
Outline
zWhat is “Psychology”?
zPsychology and Anti-Terrorism
zPsychology and Counter-Terrorism
zPsychology and Consequence Management
zA Psychological Team for DAT
A Psychological Team for DAT, 1
zHuman Factors and Ergonomics
zIndustrial/Organizational Psychology
zPsychometrics
zCognitive Psychology
zEducational Psychology
A Psychological Team for DAT, 2
zClinical Psychology
zCounseling Psychology
zPersonality and Social Psychology (influence
and persuasion)
zPersonality and Social Psychology,
Developmental Psychology (psychosocial
roots of terrorism)
z“General Psychology”
Thank you for your kind attention.
zMark E. Koltko-Rivera, Ph.D.
Professional Services Group, Inc.
Winter Park, Florida, USA
<mark@professionalservicesgroup.net>
zPeter A. Hancock, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
<phancock@pegasus.cc.ucf.edu>
... The approach to prevention and handling of radicalism through a soft approach has been more focused on technological innovation; technical strategies to hinder the spread of terrorists; increased supervision and intelligence on the air, navy and space forces lines; military science of Information and Communication technology; security techniques; radiation technology, sensors and telemetry, imaging technology, weapons science, and so on [10]. This kind of approach still leaves a blank space in the sociocultural aspect, which emphasizes the factor of humanism. ...
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The war against radicalism has entered the substantive area that pits the power of ideas and ideology to win hearts and minds. Handling radicalism at the national level has combined a hard approach and a soft approach. The soft approach alternative is chosen because it is easily accepted by the public, in addition to the repressive approach is considered insufficient. This study aims to provide insight into counter-radicalization soft approaches through the Indonesian nation's local wisdom approach. Local wisdom is the social capital that is consequently owned by the Indonesian people in all ethnic groups. This research will describe some of the values of local wisdom from Indonesia that can be used as framing values in counter-radicalization strategy. The method used in this research is literatur study with various sources of literature and depth interview with public figure and cultural leaders who concerned with local wisdom. The results of the study indicate that Indonesian local wisdom can be used as a basis for values to foster tolerance that can hamper developing radical ideologies
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This research evaluated Hong Kong Chinese and Korean comprehension of American security safety symbols, and how successfully they could guess the meaning of the symbols in relation to their ratings of the appropriateness of the design of each of the symbols. Symbol comprehension scores, symbol guessing scores, design appropriateness ratings, and demographic information were obtained for 81 Hong Kong Chinese and 60 Koreans. For all the symbols tested, comprehension scores for the Hong Kong Chinese and Koreans were much lower than for Americans. The finding that Americans were better at interpreting American symbols than Hong Kong Chinese and Koreans indicates that problems are likely to arise if such symbols are used by non-Americans. Gender did not affect guessing performance, and success at guessing symbols was not related to the subjective ratings of design appropriateness for the symbols. The findings here reveal the importance of developing security safety symbols with the end users in mind.Relevance to industryDesigning effective pictorial security safety symbols to cover the many potential situations and scenarios for a specific population is a difficult business. The findings of this study underline the importance of developing security safety symbols with the end users in mind. The results provide useful information to assist in the design of more user-friendly security safety symbols.
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Terrorism could be treated as a hazard for design purposes. For instance, the terrorist hazard could be analyzed in a manner similar to the way that seismic hazard is handled. No matter how terrorism is dealt with in the design of systems, the need for predictions of the frequency and magnitude of the hazard will be required. And, if the human-induced hazard is to be designed for in a manner analogous to natural hazards, then the predictions should be probabilistic in nature. The model described in this article is a prototype model that used agent-based modeling (ABM) to analyze terrorist attacks. The basic approach in this article of using ABM to model human-induced hazards has been preliminarily validated in the sense that the attack magnitudes seem to be power-law distributed and attacks occur mostly in regions where high levels of wealth pass through, such as transit routes and markets. The model developed in this study indicates that ABM is a viable approach to modeling socioeconomic-based infrastructure systems for engineering design to deal with human-induced hazards.
This paper describes a scaled-world simulation developed to conduct empirical research on team cognition, communication, and decision-making within a distributed environment. The NeoCITIES simulation is an advancement of the CITIES task, which was designed to study group decision-making within a command, control, and communications (C3) setting (Wellens & Ergener, 1988). Studying group decision-making is a two-fold problem involving team cognition and team communication. According to McNeese (2003), team cognition is constructed through distributed and emerging activities via several sources. A majority of studies examining distributed decision-making have involved militaristic, battlefield engagement, or urban warfare settings. In that same spirit, NeoCITIES was designed for emergency crisis management teams undergoing terrorist attacks within a college-town. Thus, NeoCITIES is a new and operationally relevant scaled world that emulates the complexities and emergent decision-making attributes resident in a 9/11-type of terrorist scenario. Through the use of NeoCITIES, we anticipate the assessment of a number of cognitive tools to support distributed cognition (e.g., problem-based decomposition) as well as advancing adaptive intelligent interfaces.
Transfer of training from simulators to real-world environments has recently come under investigation, as the generalizability of task-specific training has come into question. New hypotheses recommend that, to ensure effective performance under stress in real-world environments, one should supplement skill-based training with Stress Exposure Training (SET). Stress Exposure Training has further benefits in that it may serve as a more generalizable form of training and transfer across tasks and stressors. The impact of improving performance and reducing perceived stress and workload is of vital importance to many military operations, especially in high technology and high workload situations such as Landwarrior or Unmanned Arial Vehicles (UAVs; Mouloua, Hancock, & Gilson, 2003), in which mistakes are costly in terms of economics as well as life. In this paper the limits of SET transfer between laboratory training and field performance are investigated in regards to simulated combat target identification tasks.