Mission Statement

The Tactical Decision Making Research Group is a group of international researchers located in the Department of Psychological Sciences of the University of Liverpool, UK. The group is headed by Professor Jon Cole and contains both pre- and post-doctoral researchers from multiple countries. Our researchers primarily have a practitioner background and therefore have real world experience of their research areas.

We conduct research in five main areas: (i) the psychology of armed confrontations, (ii) preventing violent extremism and radicalisation, (iii) terrorist decision making, (iv) crisis negotiation, and (v) Social Media Intelligence (SOCMINT).

We study the psychology of armed confrontations through the simulated armed confrontation rather than the analysis of real incidents. The main platforms are the use of simulators and live role plays (using training weapons and associated technologies). We have also gathered data from live fire training scenarios. Through experimentation we have identified the main problems with gathering data in these scenarios and developed solutions. In addition we have conducted cognitive task analyses of police officers who have been involved in incidents involving armed confrontations.

We study the screening of individuals vulnerable to recruitment into violent extremism through the use of a structured professional judgment tool, the IVP guidance. The IVP guidance was developed for the Office of Security and Counter Terrorism in 2008/9. Since then we have been testing it with multiple international stakeholders. This research has screened thousands of individuals affiliated to violent extremist organisations and played a role in the removal of over 50 terrorist social media pages and websites. In addition we are developing programme evaluation frameworks for preventing and counter violent extremism interventions.

We study terrorist decision making through the analysis of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT). In particular we focus on the use of CBRN weapons.

We study the psychology of crisis negotiation through analysing training scenarios rather than live incidents. In addition we have conducted cognitive task analyses of crisis negotiators who have been involved in crisis negotiations.

We study how to collect and analyse SOCMINT from numerous social media platforms. These techniques are being applied to researching armed actors in conflict zones, however this work is confidential.