‘Influencing human behavior’: UK MoD-funded psychological research project leaked

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14-03-19 08:10:00,

The UK Defense Ministry is actively looking for a contractor for its new psychological research, which is allegedly aimed at boosting troops’ performance and well-being. Some details of the project are quite unnerving, though.

The ministry’s agency known as the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) has been seeking contributions from specialists in the fields of psychiatry, neuroscience and social sciences that would help the military shape its future strategies and policies. The University of Cambridge was particularly shortlisted by the DSTL among the four organizations it said were eligible for taking part in an almost £70 million ($92.4 million) research program known as the Human and Social Sciences Research Capability (HSSRC).

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At first glance, the whole study appears to be mostly aimed at supporting the troops and improving their performance in the rapidly changing environment of the “21th century in the UK and globally.” Five out of six research areas listed in the Cambridge tender bid that gives a detailed insight into what appears to be the nature of the project are dealing with typical personnel issues pretty much every country’s military could face nowadays.

The list includes providing “novel approaches… to support delivery of a sufficient, capable, motivated and cost-efficient workforce,” helping the military to develop necessary skills, optimizing personnel performance and improving the troops’ psychological and physical health.

Boosting army’s image?

The sixth area, however look far less innocent as it is called “understanding and influencing human behavior” and requires any future Defense Ministry partners to develop “information activities and outreach…as non-kinetic components of military full spectrum effects” as well as to enable “messaging of the UK domestic and Defense internal audiences that promotes attraction … of our people (military and civilian).”

Although it could be simply regarded as another effort to boost the military’s image among its own ranks, as well as among the domestic population, it still looks like an attempted con on the public.

The whole situation starts to look even grimmer as the layout of the project also says from the very onset that it would provide funding to mitigate some “reputational risks” for Cambridge stemming from its participation in the MoD-funded research as well as to promote “the positive impact of the university’s involvement.” After all,

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