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Neil Shortland

Ph.D. Cognitive Psychology

I focus on the psychological aspects of decision making and domestic and international security. My research portfolio includes projects on military decision making (cognitive and neuroscience psychology), the interaction of aggressive cognitions and extremist propaganda (cognitive psychology) and grass-roots programs aimed at counter violent extremism and building societal resistance (developmental and social psychology). I am an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and Director of the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies. 



My C.V. can be found here.


I started my career working alongside the U.K. Armed Forces and the U.K. Police Force. Here, I learnt the value of studying problems in the real-world and developing solutions that can be integrated and used by practitioners within the cognitively demanding environments in which they work.


From here, I moved to Academia, working on many different areas of Security and Psychology until focussing exclusively on issues of applied cognitive psychology. Now, I use naturalistic methods to better understand how individuals make and live with, hard choices, and experimental neuropsychological methods to understand the basic interactions between the human mind and extremist messages.

Areas of Expertise


Choice and Conflict 

Experimental Research

Applied Psychology

Teaching Specialties

Forensic Psychology 

Terrorism and Security 

Risk Assessment

Advanced Security Studies 

Comparative Criminal Justice 


Alison, L. J., Alison, E., & Shortland, N. D. (forthcoming). Rapport-Based Interpersonal Techniques with High-Value Detainees: The ORBIT Approach. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Shortland, N. D., Alison, L. J., & Moran, J. (in press). Conflict: How soldiers make impossible decisions. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 

Newest Research Papers 

Hunter, S., Shortland, N. D., Crayne, M., & Ligon, G. M. (2017). Recruitment and selection in violent extremist organizations: Viewing through an industrial and organizational psychology lens. The American Psychologist, 72(3), 242 – 254. ​

Shortland, N. D., Nader, E., Imperillo, N., Dmello, J., & Ross, K. (2017). The Interaction of Extremist Propaganda and Anger as predictors of Aggression. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. ​​

For a full list of my publications click here


When researching decision making I use qualitative and quantitative methods to explore security-related phenomena as close to real life as possible. My goal is to observe individuals in extremis or use qualitative methods to collect data from extreme experiences they have faced in the past. 


When researching security, where we cannot always "observe" the phenomena in real-life, I use a combination of experimental-laboratory research and open-source data collection tools to develop new data on terrorist behavior.  

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