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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S001409/1
Title: Psychological identity in a digital world: Detecting and understanding digital traces of our psychological self
Principal Investigator: Koschate-Reis, Dr M
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Defence Science & Tech Lab DSTL EDP Drug and Alcohol Services Milton Keynes Uni Hospital NHS Fdn Trust
National Crime Agency Polaris Consulting Ltd University of Queensland
Department: Psychology
Organisation: University of Exeter
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship - NHFP
Starts: 25 June 2018 Ends: 24 June 2021 Value (£): 542,410
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Artificial Intelligence Human-Computer Interactions
Social Psychology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
10 May 2018 EPSRC UKRI CL Innovation Fellowship Interview Panel 8 - 10 and 11 May 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Boundaries between digital technologies and ourselves become blurred as technology is integrated into our work, home and even our bodies. Interdisciplinary research is needed to understand how our sense of self - our psychological identity - affects and is affected by technology use. During this fellowship, I will lead an interdisciplinary team of psychologists and computer scientists to explore how our identity shapes and is shaped by technology in the fields of security and healthcare. This work will be underpinned by a programme of collaboration with industry partners, Polaris Consulting, the National Crime Agency (NCA), Dstl, Milton Keynes University Hospital (MKUH) and EDP Drugs and Alcohol Services to explore applications that support rather than replace human analysts and consultants.

Sophisticated technologies are rapidly becoming part of our lives. Research on digital technology needs to urgently address concerns about privacy, trust, and ethical implications. I will extend current research in this area by considering how our different psychological identities shape what we find acceptable in different situations. For instance, a person might be less concerned about the tracking of personal information when thinking of themselves as a patient rather than as a parent. Throughout the fellowship, I will work closely with user groups (e.g., patients in the Lived Experience Group Exeter), industry partners and the general public to understand privacy concerns and privacy behaviour.

I will also continue to develop the capacity to detect psychological identities from naturally occurring digital data (e.g., forum posts, blogs, e-mails). This research will allow us to understand which psychological identity (e.g., parent, addict, criminal network identity) is relevant in a particular situation. I will extend my current work to test whether it is possible to distinguish between several identities by analysing text data, whether detecting identities in text is robust to deception, and whether it is possible to tell how committed an individual is to their group from the way in which they communicate online. I will work closely with my industry partners, Polaris, NCA and Dstl, to explore how findings can enhance current machine learning capabilities and analytic approaches in defence and security.

Finally, building on the identity detection work, I will examine how individuals develop new psychological identities (e.g., becoming a parent) and leave identities behind (e.g., leaving behind an addict identity during therapy), and the consequences of such transitions for mental health (e.g., post-natal depression, addiction recovery). I will work closely with industry partners MKUH and EDP to explore how these findings can be translated into diagnostic and monitoring solutions of the future that augment the work of therapists and medical consultants.

The project will be integrated with research on software engineering through the EPSRC SAUSE platform grant. It will be conducted at the psychology department of the University of Exeter, which has a long and successful history of high-impact research. The project will draw on the strengths of the Social, Environmental and Organisational Psychology Research Group (SEORG), which is world-leading in research on social identity, privacy, and well-being, and the Clinical and Cognitive Research Groups, which are world-leading on depression and addiction. The University of Exeter also fosters interdisciplinary work, for instance through the co-supervision of EPSRC students across colleges, access to world-leading experts on machine learning and data science at the Alan Turing Institute and experts in healthcare at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health and the EPSRC Centre for Predicitive Modelling in Healthcare. Taken together this project will establish Exeter as a key centre for EPSRC work on psychological identity and digital technologies.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
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Organisation Website: http://www.ex.ac.uk