Contact Details | Skip Links | Site Map | Privacy & Cookies

You are here: Home > Internships > Case Studies

New Method for Screening Airline Passengers: Controlled Cognitive Engagement® (CCE®)

Controlled Cognitive Engagement® (CCE®)

The Organisation

Cato Consultants Limited

The Challenge

Investigators in the criminal justice system, government (for example HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions) and industry (for example in vetting, recruitment and other applications), are often required to assess the veracity of a client's account from an interaction lasting no more than a few minutes.

The Solution

Science and Technology psychologists and Cato Consultants Limited have developed specialist training and licensing worldwide in passenger security screening, for example in the aviation industry, through the patent-pending Controlled Cognitive Engagement® (CCE®) technique.

The method delivers the four Es of a successful screening method:

  • Effective - agents need to be able to stop the right people and stop as few of the wrong people as possible
  • Efficient - agents need to be able to screen people quickly without interfering with or annoying them, causing no additional delaysodiversity and global change
  • Equal - agents need to screen everyone in the same way so that nobody feels they are being discriminated against
  • Enjoyability - a conversation where you talk about yourself to someone who is interested, is a pleasant experience, passengers readily comply and accept it, whereas the current method is much more formal and authoritarian.

Tom Ormerod, Professor of Cognitive Psychology, who has held large research grants from Research Councils UK, Ministry of Defence and the US Department for Homeland Security and is part of Security Lancaster, explains,

"We have been evaluating current methods for screening passengers at airports.

"We've also been trying to develop a new method that switches away from a formal authoritarian approach where you're looking for suspicious signs in peoples' behaviour, towards a seemingly more informal but actually carefully controlled method, where the screener is trying to detect whether the person they are talking to may be being deceptive.

"We've developed a three stage method, CCE®, to train screening agents in airports.

"Agents engage passengers in conversation, and try to make sense of what the passenger is saying to them, whilst trying to detect within that conversation whether there are inconsistencies in the account, and whether the passenger is able to supply knowledge the screener expects them to have, given the account they've just gained."


CCE® is a technique currently in use by major airlines and security screeners at three international airports and by a global insurance fraud investigator business, where it is estimated to save £48m per year.

CCE® is considered as a 'best practice' by both UK and US government agencies, has been trademarked in the US and Australia, and a patent application has been submitted in the US.