Human interaction remains one of the least understood ‘black boxes’ of behavioural science. Precisely how we assimilate the myriad of verbal and nonverbal behaviours of others and rationalise them to make sense of their motivations is nothing short of remarkable. Yet we find it so easy.

We’re trying to demystify this black box so that we can create technologies, policies and training that help people communicate and cooperate. Here you’ll find summaries of projects, snippets of latest news (including results that will never make it to press — this is a file-drawer antidote!), and downloads of writings and research tools.


The Psychology of Human Cooperation

How Cooperation Works

/// Getting in Sync. Why remarkably basic behaviors matter
/// The power of the few. Why social proof matters to cooperation
/// Interpersonal sensemaking. The cylinder model of message framing
/// Cross-cultural sensemaking in deception and negotiation
/// What can mimicry tell us?

Aetiology of Interpersonal Violence

/// Roots of extremist violence
/// Does criminal profiling cut the scientific mustard?

Time Matters (Methods and Software)

/// The technology revolution. How we harness big data in research
/// Ways to study forensic processes. My soap box about doing it properly
/// Proximity coefficient software. Here it is for those who know what it is

Latest Publications


A half-hearted effort to record technical notes that don’t make the glossy pages of journals

> See all posts

  • Proximity Coefficients on Single Sequences

    Over the last few years a number of people have asked for re-implementation of permutation tests for the proximity coefficient.  It used to be in the original software but it got left out of our revamped Java version because of other priorities. Below is a version for Perl. Copy and paste this...

  • Group level Language Style Matching

    We have been doing a lot of research of Language Style Matching at the group level recently. One of the interesting aspects of that work is trying to determine the best way to capture mimicry (its easy when there's only two people talking!). There are several methods. One of the...

  • In the press: Is ViCLASS working? question effectiveness high tech police database violence/6164630/story.html This is an interesting one. The ViCLASS system costs countries like Canada and the UK a LOT of money to run each year, and their coding scheme really does appallingly (see our research below). There is a real danger of garbage in--garbage out...

  • Remote Interviews -- Any Good?

    News article of our recent paper on how context impacts personality judgements: In a world where our judgments of others are increasingly made on the basis of information produced through an expanding range of mediums—some lean, some rich, some single-channel, some multi-channel, and so on—the idea that rich contexts are not...

  • Technology for measuring cooperation

    In the past a scientist doing research into human cooperation would often sit for hours at a computer watching videos. These efforts have yielded large amounts of data and important insights into social interaction. But the rapid progress that has been made in sensor technology now affords new possibilities. In...

  • Sophie talks nonverbal tech

    I’m late in posting this, but here is Sophie — from our lab — doing a stella job of describing our use of Xsens technology to measure nonverbal interpersonal behaviour. (Source:

  • Talk: Behavioral Science and Risk Management

    In late 2012 Twente University held a really interesting half-day conference on perspectives on terrorism and risk.  They had folks from all kinds of sectors speaking, and I was asked to say a few words about using behaviour to promote the risk management of terrorism.  It was interesting to think...

  • Supplementary: TPV Female terrorism paper extras

    Female terrorism: A review This page gives details of the research papers included in the meta-analysis described in Jacques, K., & Taylor, P. J. (in press). Female terrorism: A review. Terrorism and Political Violence. The references may be downloaded as a Endnote Library File. If you are aware of a paper(s)...

  • Supplementary: IFP Ways to analyse sequences paper extras

    This page provides extra material to the recent Issues in Forensic Psychology paper: "Analysing Forensic Processes: Taking Time into Account”. In this paper, we suggest that the forensic psychology field had neglected studying processes, and that it really should study processes because temporality and change are critical to most of the...

  • In the press: Has Britain become a "walk-on-by society?"

    Research by Mark Levine and colleagues shows that bystanders are very likely to try and defuse violent situations, and surprisingly, they are even more likely to try to calm things down if there are more people watching. So, are we really a 'walk-on-by society'? In 1999 the former Home Secretary Jack...



Lab (læb). —n. Place wear curious folk exercise their inner geekery without fear of mocking or retribution (that comes at the publication stage)

Elsewhere on the Web

Psychology @ Lancaster

Security Lancaster

Psychology of Conflict, Risk and Safety, Twente

Media on our Research

The Interpersonal Sensemaking Lab seeks to understand how certain people—who you might call good strangers—are effective at educing cooperation from people who might otherwise be mistrusting or hostile. Using experimental, archival and field research, we’ve tried to answer this question in two ways: by developing our understanding of how human interaction works and, more practically, by identifying the kinds of verbal and nonverbal behaviours that educe cooperation.

In trying to learn about the process of human cooperation we have also studied the factors responsible for acts of violence and cooperation. This includes the risk factors that precede violence (e.g., precursors to terrorism), the contextual factors that lead people to act cooperatively (e.g., trust in workteams), and the pattern of escalating and deescalating behaviours that shape people’s decision to act violently or cooperatively (e.g., in bar fights).

Much of our research is at the interface of technology and behaviour (Paul spoke about that in his inaugural lecture). Our lab uses XSens MVN, Liberty Latus and WiTilt sensors to automatically track nonverbal behaviour and nonverbal mimicry, sociometers to measure social behaviour, and a range of bespoke linguistic software to examine verbal behaviour. We also  video record most of our interactions and try wherever possible to compare the automated measurements with human judgements.

Lab Members

Paul J. Taylor. Professor of Psychology and the person who relies on the amazing people listed below.

Lynne Hargreaves. Our (long-suffering) lab administrator.

Faye Banks. Dstl funded project examining a more detailed interaction alignment modelling of email exchanges.

Christos Charitonidis. Dstl funded PhD studentship examining the weak signals of predicting violence, particularly in Twitter.

Joanna Curtis. FBI funded project examining sensemaking in cross-cultural interactions.

Daniel Jolley. Industry-funded Research Associate examining interactive behaviour and its relationship with cooperation.

Ben Marshall Industry-funded PhD looking at the psychological functions behind genuine and false threat reporting.

Steven Nicholson. Dstl-funded PhD student seeking to determine the precusors and disruptors of online trust.

Miriam Oostinga. PhD student examining communication errors in police-civilian interactions.

Rachel Reece. Industry-funded PhD student examining the factors that allow community groups to succeed and flourish.

Steven Watson. BAE funded project looking at nonverbal markers of trust.

Simon Wells. Negotiating with antagonistic people and doing some research on the topic too (ha ha…).


Dr David Ellis. Research Associate on studies examining why group fail. Now a Lecturer in Psychology at Lincoln University.

Dr Tina Gornell. Research Associate on studies examining nonverbal dynamics and confidence in small groups. Now a lecturer at UCLan.

Dr Iain Hamlin. Industry funded PhD examining the relationship between personality, phenomenology and deception (with large N). Now a Research Associate at Edge Hill University.

Dr Karen Jacques. ESRC funded PhD on the nature of mobilisation into female violent extremism. Now working in government.

Dr Charlotte McClelland. Post-doc examining dispositional and contextual factors that lead to groups failing.

Dr Simon McDonald. Software engineer on a project developing language analysis. Now successful in the very real world of start-ups.

Dr Katharina McInnes. Industry-funded PhD student examining the concept of ‘purity’ as an attitude related to violent extremism.

Tarek Menacere. Software engineer on a project developing language analysis. Now working at Liverpool University.

Pete Montgomery. Industry funded project looking at email mimicry. Now working for JNCC.

Dr Sheryl Prentice. Researcher and industry-funded PhD on extremism in mainstream media. Now a Lecturer in Linguistics at UCLan.

Dr Beth Richardson. Industry-funded PhD on verbal mimicry and power, then post-doc on follow-up work. Now a research fellow at UCLan.

Dr Alexandra Sandham. PhD on police decision making, then post-doc on the insider threat project. Now working in the grizzly real world.

Dr Samuel Larner. Senior Research Associate on cross-cultural interaction project (e.g., this paper). Now a Lecturer in Linguistics at UCLan.

Dr Sophie Van der Zee. Industry-funded PhD student examining nonverbal mimicry and its relationship to deception-induced cognitive load. Now a postdoc at Cambridge.

Dr Helen Wall. Industry-funded PhD on how context effects our personality judgements (e.g., this paper), and follow up post-doc work on judgements from online material. Now a Lecturer at Edge Hill University.

Ruth Wong. Research Assistant on nonverbal mimicry project. Now at the Spot Centre, Hong Kong.