Cognitive Security in a Changing World: Citizen Perceptions During Finland's NATO Joining Process




Cognitive Security, Cognitive Warfare, Cognitive Dimension, Psychological Information Influence, Feeling of Security, Trust


Contemporary conflicts are multifaceted and no longer fit the traditional war-and-peace dichotomy due to digital dimensions and the role of the human mind. The concept of warfare has transformed significantly: it's no longer solely reliant on physical capabilities but increasingly fought within digital environments and individuals' minds. These persistent, intertwined crises and psychological information influence present challenges to cognitive security. Psychological influence shapes opinions, attitudes, emotions, behaviors, and decision-making in individuals, groups, and societies using various methods, often involving digital tools to manipulate cognitive processes. It aims to shape the human mind, going beyond altering information to influence how the human brain processes received information. To safeguard human cognition, cognitive security is crucial. It involves the capability to detect, recognize, control, and counter negative psychological information influence aimed at an individual. Cognitive security plays a critical role in enabling individuals and society to recognize, understand, and manage a wide range of threats and risks. The rapidly changing world, driven by technology, politics, and the environment, poses new challenges for citizens' cognitive security. As warfare evolves, individuals struggle to understand the complex threats, including cyber and information influence. Hence, this study aims to ascertain whether individuals' feeling of security has changed and if they are perceiving psychological information influence. The study investigates the sense of security among Finnish people using survey data collected during two significant time periods: after Finland announced its intention to join NATO (N = 1080) and after it officially became a NATO member (N = 1047). Additionally, whether an increase in hostile online influence and disruptions in the cyber environment was noticed by Finnish people during these same time frames is being investigated. The results indicate a statistically significant decrease in the feeling of security and a significant increase in the awareness of hostile influences. This implies that these phenomena warrant further investigation to gain a better understanding of citizens' cognitive security status and to explore ways to improve it.

Author Biographies

Hilkka Grahn, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland

Hilkka Grahn is a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Information Technology, University of Jyväskylä. Her research has been published in journals such as International Journal of Human–Computer Studies and Accident Analysis & Prevention. Her current research interests include cognitive security and human behavior within security contexts.

Teemu Häkkinen, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland

Teemu Häkkinen is a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Jyväskylä. His research interests include parliamentary history and political decision-making. He has published in journals such as European Review of History / Revue européenne d'histoire and Journal of Political and Military Sociology.

Toni Taipalus, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland and Tampere University, Tampere, Finland

Toni Taipalus is a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Information Technology, University of Jyväskylä, and an assistant professor at Tampere University. His research has been published in journals such as ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Journal of Systems and Software. His current research interests include database performance and data-intensive software systems.