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Information Gathering in Law Enforcement and Intelligence Settings: Advancing
Theory and Practice
PÄR ANDERS GRANHAG
*, ALDERT VRIJ
and CHRISTIAN A. MEISSNER
University of Gothenburg, Sweden
University of Portsmouth, UK
Iowa State University, USA
The gathering of human intelligence (HUMINT) occurs
across the globe 24/7. In the wake of terrorist attacks in
New York, Madrid, and London, and the increased threat
of terror worldwide, the need for effective HUMINT tech-
niques is more critical than ever (Brandon, 2011; Loftus,
2011). Some of these interactions may require little in terms
of tactical reasoning, whereas other interactions may require
advanced strategic considerations and elaborate tactical
skills. In light of this it is rather remarkable that such little
research has been conducted on how such interactions are
conducted and the comparative effectiveness of different
HUMINT gathering techniques. This special issue will begin
to remedy this serious gap in the research literature.
While the general body of literature underpinning the ﬁeld
of legal psychology continues to show a steady expansion, it
remains silent with respect to techniques aimed at eliciting
human intelligence. The existing literature—including re-
search on memory-enhancing techniques (e.g. Fisher &
Geiselman, 1992), confessions (e.g. Lassiter & Meissner,
2010), and deception detection (e.g. Granhag & Strömwall,
2004; Vrij, 2008)—address vital elements in the overall in-
telligence gathering process, but there is very little research
that informs on how intelligence interviews are conducted
today and how such interviews could be improved. Turning
to the literature on human intelligence, there are writings on
the recruitment of informants (e.g. Fitzgerald, 2007), ethics
and informants (e.g. Andrew, Aldrich, & Wark, 2009), and
analyzing intelligence (e.g. George & Bruce, 2008). But the
literature on ‘intelligence interviewing’is very slim. This is
noteworthy considering the prominent role of human intelli-
gence collection operations in historical terms, and even
more so given the renewed interest of intelligence collection
in the period following 9/11 (Brandon, 2011). Although
operational experiences have given rise to a wide array of
techniques and procedures within the HUMINT domain,
these methods have rarely been subjected to scientiﬁcevalu-
ation. On a more positive note, researchers and practitioners
from the intelligence ﬁeld have begun to acknowledge this
gap and advocate for a more comprehensive future research
agenda (e.g. Evans, Meissner, Brandon, Russano, & Kleinman,
2010; Loftus, 2011). We believe that the papers in this special
issue add positively to such an agenda.
The Special issue contains 12 papers, and we are proud to
have received contributions from North America, Europe and
Australia. A closer look at the papers reveal that they cover
(a) experienced interrogators’(and analysts’and interpreters’)
views regarding their own practices (Redlich, Kelly, & Miller,
2014; Russano, Narchet, & Kleinman, 2014; Russano,
Narchet, Kleinman, & Meissner 2014), (b) empirical tests
and systematic ﬁeld observations of different interview
approaches and tactics promoting the elicitation of human
intelligence (Evans et al., 2014; Luke, Dawson, Hartwig, &
Granhag, 2014; Goodman-Delahunty, Martschuk, & Dhami,
2014; Oleszkiewicz, Granhag, & Kleinman, 2014; Shaw
et al., 2014; Vrij, Mann, Jundi, Hillman, & Hope, 2014), (c)
memory enhancing techniques to assist sources who are
willing to share information (Leins, Fisher, Pludwinski,
Rivard, & Robertson, 2014; Rivard, Fisher,Robertson, & Hirn
Mueller, 2014), and (d) an overview of current research on
techniques for interviewing to elicit information and assess
credibility (Vrij & Granhag, 2014).
We would like to thank all of the external reviewers who took
on their task in such a serious manner—your efforts pushed the
issue in the right direction. Finally, we would like to thank Mark
Fallon, Susan Brandon, and Majeed Khader for offering such
encouraging and insightful comments on the issue.
Andrew, C., Aldrich, R. J., & Wark, K. W. (2009). Secret intelligence: A
reader. New York: Routledge.
Brandon, S. (2011). Impacts of psychological science on national security
agencies post-9/11. American Psychologist,66, 495–506. doi: 10.1037/
Evans, J. R., Houston, K. A., Meissner, C. A., Boss, A. B., Labianca, J. R.,
Woestehoff, S. A., & Kleinman, S. M. (2014). An empirical evaluation of
intelligence-gathering interrogation techniques from the United States Army
Field Manual. Applied Cognitive Psychology. doi: 10.1002/acp3065
Evans, J. R., Meissner, C. A., Brandon, S. E., Russano, M. B., & Kleinman,
S. M. (2010). Criminal versus HUMINT interrogations: The importance
of psychological science to improving interrogative practice. Journal of
Psychiatry and Law,38, 215–249.
Fisher, R. P., & Geiselman, R. E. (1992). Memory-enhancing techniques for
investigative interviewing. The cognitive interview. Springﬁeld, MA:
Fitzgerald, D. G. (2007). Informants and undercover investigations. Boca
Raton, FL: CRC Press.
George, R. Z., & Bruce, J. B. (2008). Analyzing intelligence: Origins,
obstacles & innovations. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
Goodman-Delahunty, J., Martschuk, N., Dhami, M. (2014). Interviewing
high-value detainees: Security cooperation and reliable disclosures.
Applied Cognitive Psychology. doi: 10.1002/acp.3087
Granhag, P. A., & Strömwall, L. A. (2004). The detection of deception in
forensic contexts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lassiter, G. D., & Meissner, C. A. (2010). Police interrogations and false
confessions. Current research, practice and police recommendations.
Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
*Correspondence to: Pär Anders Granhag, University of Gothenburg, USA.
Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Applied Cognitive Psychology,Appl. Cognit. Psychol. 28: 815–816 (2014)
Published online in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com) DOI: 10.1002/acp.3093
Leins, D. A., Fisher, R. P., Pludwinski, L., Rivard, J. R., & Robertson, B.
(2014). Interview protocols to facilitate human intelligence sources’recol-
lections of meetings. Applied Cognitive Psychology. doi: 10.1002/acp3041
Loftus, E. F. (2011). Intelligence gathering post-9/11. American Psycholo-
gist,66, 532–541. doi: 10.1037/a0024614
Luke, T. J., Dawson, E., Hartwig, M., & Granhag, P. A. (2014). How aware-
ness of possible evidence induces forthcoming counter-interrogation
strategies. Applied Cognitive Psychology. doi: 10.1002/acp3019
Oleszkiewicz, S., Granhag, P. A., & Kleinman, S. M. (2014). On eliciting
intelligence from human sources: Contextualizing the Scharff-
technique. Applied Cognitive Psychology. doi: 10.1002/acp3073
Redlich, A. D., Kelly, C. E., & Miller, J. C. (2014). The who, what, and why
of human intelligence gathering: Self-reported measures of interrogation
methods. Applied Cognitive Psychology. doi: 10.1002/acp3040
Rivard, J. R., Fisher, R. P., Robertson, B., & Hirn Mueller, D. (2014).
Testing the Cognitive Interview with professional interviewers:
Enhancing recall of speciﬁc details of recurring events. Applied Cognitive
Psychology. doi: 10.1002/acp3026
Russano, M. B., Narchet, F. M., & Kleinman, S. M. (2014). Analysts, inter-
preters, and intelligence interrogations: perceptions and insights. Applied
Cognitive Psychology. doi: 10.1002/acp.3070
Russano, M. B., Narchet, F. M., Kleinman, S. M., & Meissner, C. M.
(2014). Structured interviews of experienced HUMINT interrogators.
Applied Cognitive Psychology. doi: 10.1002/acp.3069
Shaw, D. J., Vrij, A., Leal, S., Mann, S., Hillman, J., Granhag, P. A., &
Fisher, R. (2014). “We’ll take it from here”: The effect of changing
interviewers in information gathering interviews. Applied Cognitive
Psychology. doi: 10.1002/acp3072
Vrij, A. (2008). Detecting lies and deceit: Pitfalls and opportunities (2nd
ed.). Chichester: John Wiley and Sons.
Vrij, A., & Granhag, P. A. (2014). Eliciting information and detecting lies in
intelligence interviewing: An overview of recent research. Applied
Cognitive Psychology. doi: 10.1002/acp3071
Vrij, A., Mann, S., Jundi, S., Hillman, J., & Hope, L. (2014). Detection of
concealment in an information-gathering interview. Applied Cognitive
Psychology. doi: 10.1002/acp3051
816 P. A. Granhag et al.
Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Appl. Cognit. Psychol. 28: 815–816 (2014)