Detecting insider threats to organizations through language change

Taylor, Paul and Dando, Coral and Ormerod, Thomas and Ball, Linden and Jenkins, Marisa and Sandham, Alexandra and Menacere, Tarek (2013) Detecting insider threats to organizations through language change. Law and Human Behavior, 37 (4). pp. 267-275. ISSN 1573-661X

[thumbnail of 2013 - LHB Taylor et al.]
PDF (2013 - LHB Taylor et al.)
2013_LHB_Taylor_et_al..pdf - Submitted Version

Download (288kB)


The act of conducting an insider attack carries with it cognitive and social challenges that may affect an offender’s day-to-day work behavior. We test this hypothesis by examining the language used in e-mails that were sent as part of a 6-hr workplace simulation. The simulation involved participants (N = 54) examining databases and exchanging information as part of a four-stage organized crime investigation. After the first stage, 25% of the participants were covertly incentivized to act as an “insider” by providing information to a provocateur. Analysis of the language used in participants’ e-mails found that insiders became more self-focused, showed greater negative affect, and showed more cognitive processing compared to their coworkers. At the interpersonal level, insiders showed significantly more deterioration in the degree to which their language mimicked other team members over time. Our findings demonstrate how language may provide an indirect way of identifying employees who are undertaking an insider attack.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Law and Human Behavior
Additional Information:
This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? psychiatry and mental healthpsychology(all)law ??
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
13 Feb 2013 15:48
Last Modified:
03 Jan 2024 00:15