Skip to content

Dr Sarah Knight




I graduated from the University of Portsmouth in 1997 with a first class honours degree in Psychology. I then spent ten years in the Psychology department at Portsmouth University working both as a lecturer in various subjects and as a researcher on a range of projects in developmental, forensic, health, and social psychology. In 2003 I was granted a full-time PhD bursary from the Economic Social Research Council (ESRC), and was awarded my PhD in 2006. Supervised by Professor Aldert Vrij (Director of Studies) my thesis comprises six research studies that examine the inter-relationship between attitudes, beliefs and behaviour, entitled: 'The basis and nature of attitudes toward animal use: A psychological approach'.  From 2007-2008 I was awarded an ESRC postdoctoral Research Fellowship for a project entitled 'Human rights versus animal wrongs? It all depends....: Explaining disparate attitudes toward animals and how they are used'. I am now a Principal Social Psychologist for the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), and am involved in a variety of projects related to the military and homeland security. My expertise on how attitudes, beliefs and emotions relate to behaviour has been applied to support a range of projects that require understanding of radicalisation, violent (and non violent) extremism, and terrorism. For example, research on: understanding violent versus non-violent extremism, and lone versus group terrorism; how, why and when adversary groups choose innovative Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs); the evolution of extremist ideologies and how these might relate to action (e.g. violence); how to construct and communicate deterrent messages; theories on influence, persuasion and messaging; and right wing extremism.

I remain affiliated with the Centre for the Study of Emotion at the University of Portsmouth as a Visiting Research Fellow, I am on the Board of Editors for several peer reviewed, academic journals, and provide other ad hoc reviews for the ESRC and am a member of DSTL’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). I am also an invited member of an advisory group to an FP7-funded project examining lone offenders and have been an invited speaker at various events such as the annual Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism conference held at the University of Cranfield , and at Lone Actor workshops at University College London, and at the University of Leiden in The Hague. 

ID: 4636248