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Emma Barrett


  • University of Manchester, Oxford Road

    M13 9PL Manchester

    United Kingdom

Personal profile


I have a range of research and teaching interests, falling broadly into two themes: psychology and security, and the psychology of extreme environments. (The themes sometimes overlap - see Smith & Barrett, 2018).


Security-related activities


My research interests in psychology and security include the harmful use of new and emerging technologies, betrayal, deception, and investigative sense-making and decision-making. I am currently involved in projects relating to online child sexual abuse, investigative decision making, and threats to democracy in the digital age.


From 2019-2023 I was Director of the EPSRC-funded Security, Privacy, Identity and Trust NetworkPlus (SPRITE+, grant reference EP/S035869/1). I am currently Expert Fellows Co-ordiator for SPRITE+ phase 2, which runs until 2027. SPRITE+ is a vehicle for cross-disciplinary, cross-sector collaboration between people involved in research, practice, and policy with a focus on digital contexts. (More details:


From 2018 to 2022 I was the University's strategic lead for digital trust and security, and until 2023 I co-led the interdisciplinary UCIL Undergraduate course Trust and Security in the Digital Age, with my colleague Prof Daniel Dresner (Computer Science). The course is open to undergraduates from any discipline who want to learn more about cybersecurity, cybercrime, online victimisation, privacy, data surveillance, threats to democracy... and much more!


Extreme environments activities


I am involved in multiple projects relating to the psychology of performance and well-being in extreme and challenging environments. With my colleague Dr Nathan Smith, we collaborate with organisations across the world, including Royal Geographical Society, Voluntary Service Overseas, the European Space Agency, NASA, and the Antarctic Heritage Trust.


I am the co-author (with Paul Martin) of "Extreme: Why some people thrive at the limits" published by OUP in 2014, and I speak regularly to scientific, business, and general audiences about the qualities and motivations of people who choose to enter extreme and challenging environments (including Polar explorers, astronauts, cavers, long distance sailors, mountaineers, and expedition fieldworkers).




Before joining UoM in 2018, I was Research to Practice Fellow at the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST) at Lancaster University, leading efforts to ensure that CREST’s research activities focused on end user requirements and fostering strong links with stakeholders. From 2003-2015 I established and led a UK Government research unit that developed and applied behavioural, psychological, and social science research to a range of law enforcement, security, and defence issues. 


I completed my doctorate in Psychology at the University of Birmingham. My thesis explores psychological mechanisms underlying the acquisition, interpretation, and exploitation of information by detectives in complex criminal enquiries. 


You can follow me on social media:, and crimepsychblog on Threads

You can still find me on Twitter through I no longer post there: @crimepsychblog (security and crime), @takingrisksbook (extreme environments).

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Digital Futures
  • Cathie Marsh Institute


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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