On Assignment
How I Spent My (Home Team) Summer (Part 1)
The learning never ends! :O Undergrads share why they spent their vacays doing research in the Home Team.

This year, a team of undergrads spent 12 fulfilling weeks doing research projects on a range of subjects under the auspices of the Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre (HTBSC). Here’s what they learnt! 

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GRAPHIC: Cheryl Soh

BETTER TOGETHER OR APART?
A third-year Psychology student at the National University of Singapore (NUS), Lau Shi Mian did research on the subject of group deception – the elements that motivate deception in group crime. From this research, Shi Mian proposed ways to better understand and counter this phenomenon. 

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PHOTO: Soo Jun Xiang

Why did you decide to do an internship with HTBSC? 
I knew it would allow me to get a different and more practical perspective on Psychology. It can be difficult for students to connect the knowledge we learn in school to how it can be applied in an operational context. The resources provided by HTBSC helped me connect what I’ve learnt to many practical applications, such as the factors that drive group crime.  

Tell us about your research project. 
I analysed the links between the behaviour of criminal groups to their structure and sense of identity. I found hints that different cultures varied in terms of their levels of interdependence, and that this sense of interdependence affects a group’s sense of collective identity. For example, the concept of “brotherhood” differs in local gangs, compared to those on other countries. 

How has your internship influenced your future career path?
The time I spent at HTBSC exposed me to many potential applications of Psychology at various Home Team Departments. I’m curious to explore how I can contribute to their work, for example, by supporting operations through collecting data and analysing behavioural patterns, or studying the profiles of drug abusers to aid their rehabilitation.

STAYING STRONG AFTER A TERROR ATTACK
An undergrad at the Singapore Management University (SMU), Clement Lau is currently pursuing a Double Major in Psychology and Marketing. For his research project, Clement chose to study how communications can heal and bring us together after a terror attack. 

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PHOTO: Soo Jun Xiang

Why did you decide to pursue an internship with HTBSC?
I’ve always wanted to find out more about rehabilitative work, and I felt that this was a good opportunity for me to do so. This internship helped me to learn about the work of the Home Team and how the different Departments help people in their own unique ways. 

What was your research project about?
I was particularly interested in studying social resilience. Crisis communications is a crucial tool in the post-attack recovery process, and I looked at various factors that contribute to recovery after a crisis. 

What are your takeaways from your internship?
This internship provided me with more exposure to different aspects of Psychology. The experience and knowledge I gained wasn’t limited to academic matters alone, and will be relevant to me when I start working. 

What advice would you give to someone who’s considering a research internship?
This internship will give you a real idea of what working in the Home Team is like. Come with an open mind and don’t be afraid when things change suddenly; you’ll have good supervisors and colleagues to guide you. 

RE-EXAMINING INTOLERANCE
A third-year Psychology student at NUS, Chua Jia Jie delved into the topic of religious fundamentalism and intolerance. He shares his findings with us.

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PHOTO: Soo Jun Xiang

What was the most challenging part of your research project?
Religious fundamentalism is a sensitive topic and people tend to have preconceived notions about it. The nature of research also gave little room for error, and I needed to be precise with my language when I put down my findings. 

What are some of the factors that breed intolerance?
Fundamentalist ideologies can travel and manifest in many different ways. With the reach of the Internet today, ideologies are no longer constrained by physical factors; they can take root anywhere. As Singaporeans, we should be aware of the damaging effects of ideologies that promote an “us versus them” mentality, and be ready to counter intolerance when it arises. 

What was your biggest learning point from your internship? 
Through this internship, I gained many soft skills to complement my knowledge. It was an eye-opening experience as I engaged with areas of Psychology that wouldn’t usually be accessible to students, such as Criminal Psychology. I gained many insights and, moving forward, want to explore other sub-disciplines in Psychology! 


Home Team Internships
HTBSC internships are open to local Polytechnic and University students. For more information, email MHA_HTBSC_COMMS@mha.gov.sg.
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.


  1. by Soo Jun Xiang and Jade Tan
  2. 11 October 2019
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