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The High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG): Inception, evolution, and impact

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Abstract

Interrogation practices in the U.S. have long relied on customary knowledge — experiential-based knowledge uninformed by behavioral science (Hartwig, Meissner, & Semel, 2014). This reality was highlighted in a multi-year review of interrogation training and practice by the U.S. Intelligence Science Board (ISB) that described contemporary interrogation methods as lacking an evidence base (Fein, 2006). The ISB study advocated for the development of a research program to study ethical, science-based interrogation practices. This program of research was ultimately created by the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), an interagency body founded by Executive Order 13491 in 2009 “to get the best intelligence possible based on scientifically proven methods and consistent with the Army Field Manual." A core responsibility of the HIG is to study the comparative effectiveness of interrogation approaches and techniques, with the goal of identifying the existing techniques that are most effective and developing new lawful techniques to improve intelligence interrogations. The current chapter traces the origins and impacts of the HIG research program on training and practice of U.S. professionals.
Chapter 11
The High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG):
Inception, Evolution, and Impact
Susan E. Brandon, Joeanna C. Arthur, David G. Ray, Christian A. Meissner, Steven M.
Kleinman, Melissa B. Russano, & Simon Wells¹
All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
(Edmund Burke)
A Research Program
Interrogation practices in the U.S. have long relied on customary knowledge—
experiential-based knowledge uninformed by behavioral science (Hartwig, Meissner, & Semel,
2014). This reality was highlighted in a multi-year review of interrogation training and practice
by the U.S. Intelligence Science Board (ISB) that described contemporary interrogation methods
as lacking an evidence base (Fein, 2006) and called for the development of a research program to
study ethical, science-based interrogation practices.
The ISB study advocated for what became the research program of the High-Value
Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), an interagency body founded by Executive Order 13491 in
2009 “to get the best intelligence possible based on scientifically proven methods and consistent
with the Army Field Manual”² (White House press briefing, August 24, 2009). A core
responsibility of the HIG isto study the comparative effectiveness of interrogation approaches
and techniques, with the goal of identifying the existing techniques that are most effective and
developing new lawful techniques to improve intelligence interrogations (U.S. Department of
Justice, Task Force on Interrogations and Transfer Policies, 2009).
Since it began operations in January 2010, the HIG research program has served as the
center for advancing the science and practice of interview and interrogation within the United
States government (for a review, see Meissner, Surmon-Böhr, Oleszkiewicz, & Alison, 2017).
The program has taken a translational approach, supporting experimental research in the
laboratory (e.g., Davis, Soref, Villalobos, & Mikulincer, 2016; Evans, Meissner, et al., 2013;
Leins, Fisher, Pludwinsky, Robertson, & Mueller, 2014) and field observations and surveys of
interrogation professionals regarding current practices (e.g., Alison, Alison, Noone, Elntib, &
Christiansen, 2013; Kelly, Miller, & Redlich, 2015; Russano, Narchet, Kleinman, & Meissner,
2014). A priority of the HIG research program has been to test the efficacy of science-based
interview methods under real-world conditions
1
(Brandon & Fallon, 2018). Such efficacy studies
require collaborative partnerships that include practitioners who conduct interviews, researchers
with expertise in the science of interviewing, and resources via government sponsorship. One
such partnership—involving the HIG, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI),
Roger Williams University (RWU) and Iowa State University (ISU)—is described here.
The HIG research program—which supports exclusively unclassified social and
behavioral science research and adheres to international laws and U.S. federal code (45 CFR 46)
pertaining to the protection of human subjects—has produced nearly 200 publications in peer-
reviewed scientific journals on topics such as the role of rapport and information-gathering
approaches (e.g., Alison et al., 2013; Evans et al., 2013), priming (e.g., Davis et al., 2016;
Dawson, Hartwig, Brimbal, & Denisenkov, 2017; Dawson & Hartwig, 2017), interpreter-
facilitated interviewing (e.g., Dhami, Goodman-Delahunty, Desai, 2017; Ewens, Vrij, Leal,
Mann, Jo, & Fisher, 2016; Houston, Russano, & Ricks, 2017), evaluation of the 2006 Army
1
We use the term ‘interviews’ to include investigative and intelligence-gathering interrogations,
suspect, victim and witness interviews, and debriefings of various human intelligence sources.
Field Manual interrogation approaches (e.g., Duke et al., 2018; Evans et al., 2014), cognitive
approaches to credibility assessment (e.g., Vrij, Fisher, & Blank, 2017), the cognitive interview
(e.g., Leins et al., 2014), evidence presentation (e.g., Luke et al., 2013), the Scharff Technique
(e.g., Granhag, Oleszkiewicz, Strömwall, & Kleinman, 2015), error management in interviews
(e.g., Oostinga, Giebels, & Taylor, 2018), ethics (e.g., Hartwig, Luke, & Skerker, 2016),
language and cultural/ethnicity effects (Hwang & Matsumoto, 2014; Hwang, Matusmoto, &
Sandoval, 2016; Matsumoto & Hwang, 2018), and sensemaking (Richardson, Taylor, Snook,
Conchie, & Bennell, 2014). The HIG also has sponsored several studies on training the science-
based methods to law enforcement and intelligence practitioners (e.g., Luke et al., 2016;
Oleszkiewicz, Granhag, & Kleinman, 2017; Vrij, Leal, Mann, Vernham, & Brankaert, 2015).
From Research to Training
The HIG training program was preceded by a two-year effort by HIG research program
personnel to convey relevant behavioral science to HIG interrogators and analysts. At the
invitation of the HIG, renowned psychologists traveled to Washington, DC, to present brief
lectures on topics such as stereotypes, the impact of isolation, and the science of teams. One- and
two-day seminars were provided on the cognitive interview (Fisher & Geiselman, 1992),
Strategic Use of Evidence (Hartwig, Granhag, Strömwall, & Kronkvist, 2006), principles of
persuasion (Cialdini, 2001), and the Scharff Technique (Oleszkiewicz, Granhag, & Montecinos,
2014). In addition, the research team arranged for one-hour weekly meetings with the
interrogators and analysts to review relevant psychological findings (e.g., social influence;
principles of memory). While more than 100 hours of such seminars had been offered by
December 2011, the research team found that this effort fell short of the intended objective as
mission constraints limited practitioner attendance. In addition, while many practitioners found
the training of real interest, they did not yet grasp the connection to their work.
A meeting was convened in mid-2012 to discuss how to proceed. Individuals with
experience in interrogation training for U.S. military personnel and others with expertise in
training U.K. police officers on the PEACE method (CPTU, 1992a, 1992b) provided advice.
Two overarching themes emerged: 1) the training had to be relevant to the needs of the
practitioners and 2) research scientists with no operational experience lacked the credibility
necessary to maintain practitioners’ engagement. Fortunately, several practitioners with
sufficient knowledge of the literature were available to serve as primary instructors of science-
based methods. And rather than a scientist-practitioner model (e.g., Belar, 2000; Shapiro, 2002),
the HIG adopted a joint (scientist+practitioner) model in which instruction was offered by
practitioners who understood the science together with scientists who understood the challenges
of the practice.
2
An initial training course was built on a framework previously developed to train hostage
negotiators (Wells, Taylor & Giebals, 2013; Wells, 2014a, 2014b). The first phase of the
framework (shown in Figure 1) includes such actions as deliberate planning, consideration of the
negotiator’s ‘brand’ (i.e., how s/he is perceived by the hostage taker), thoughtful scripting of the
first words the negotiator will say to the subject and anticipation of what s/he might say in return,
and how the interaction might be subtly influenced by verbal (Davis, Soref, Villalobos, &
Mikulincer, 2016; Dawson, Hartwig, & Brimbal, 2015) or contextual (Dawson, Hartwig,
Brimbal, & Denisenkov, 2017) priming. The negotiation itself was partitioned into Initial
2
Over time, the HIG in-house research personnel became more familiar with field interrogations
and were better able to bridge the gap between scientists and practitioner. In addition, the
training instructors became more expert with the underlying research and they were able to offer
some of the instruction on their own.
Communications, building on impression management (Leary, & Kowalski, 1990) and ‘thin
slicing’ (Ambady & Rosenthal, 1992), Opening, which was about initial dialogue and displaying
confidence and competence (Cuddy, Fiske & Glick, 2008), and Targeted Communication
involving using persuasion tactics (Cialdini, 2001), building rapport (Rogers, 1951) and
deploying components of Motivational Interviewing (MI; Miller & Rollnick, 1991, 2002).
Ending or Closing a negotiation required reaffirming rapport, summarizing what had been
accomplished and continuing with targeted messaging to further the negotiator’s position.
Figure 1. The framework used to construct a training program for personnel at the HIG in 2012
based on Wells (2014b).
CONSTRUCTING
COMMUNICATIO
NS
STEREOTYPES/CONTENT
SENSEMAKING, FEEDBACK, REALIGNMENT, REASSESSMENT
Initial
Communications
Opening
Targeted
Communication
s
First Lines
Communication Skills
Motivational
Interviewing
Analytic
Input
Branding
Predictable
Dialogue &
First Lines
Priming
Reaffirm
Rapport
First Impressions
Thin
Slicing
MOTIVATIONS/NEEDS
Negotiation
CLOSING
First Lines
Summary
Targeted
Messages
Analytic
Input
Branding
Predictable
Dialogue &
First Lines
Priming
First Impressions
Thin
Slicing
Confidence &
Competence
First Lines
Communication Skills
Persuasion
Rapport
Skills
Motivational
Interviewing
Reaffirm
Rapport
Summary
Targeted
Messages
This framework was broadened to include both HIG program research findings and
several decades of behavioral science specifically relevant to an interrogation, including
memory-related issues (memory retrieval effects, including misinformation effects [e.g., Loftus
& Zanni, 1975] and false memories [Loftus, 1979]), methods of eliciting a narrative (Fisher &
Geiselman, 1992), and cognition-based approaches to assessing the validity of a narrative (Vrij,
Fisher, & Blank 2017; for a more detailed description of this HIG framework, see Brandon,
Wells, & Seale, 2017).
The first course offered by the HIG in November 2012 was three and one-half weeks
long. It included simulated interviews at the end of each week where students practiced the
methods they had learned. Experts in adult learning assisted in creating support materials and
providing feedback to the instructors on teaching skills. The students included HIG personnel
who would benefit from understanding science-based methods.
The course subsequently was shortened to one week and offered several times a year to
HIG staff as well as to those with whom the HIG might partner in the field (e.g., DoD
interrogators, FBI agents, and members of local law enforcement agencies serving on federal
counterterrorism task forces). The in-house training was soon augmented by courses taught at
locations around the country. As of October 2017, the HIG had trained individuals from more
than 50 U.S. government agencies, including more than 800 interrogation professionals, analysts,
and interpreters in 2017 alone (Remarks of FBI Director Christopher Wray, 2017). The HIG
offered this course at no cost to participants, and demand for the training grew beyond what
could be supported.
Concurrent with the one-week course offering, the HIG research team continued to invite
researchers to brief the HIG on their research findings. Using a “Research to Practice” (R2P)
model, the HIG research and training teams worked with the scientists to ensure their
presentations were accessible to HIG practitioners. These R2Ps provided a venue for more in-
depth instruction on some of the topics introduced in the one-week course, such as Strategic Use
of Evidence (Hartwig et al., 2015), the Scharff Technique (Granhag et al., 2015), the Cognitive
Interview (Fisher & Geiselman, 1992), Cognition-Based Credibility Assessment (Vrij et al.,
2017), and Cross-Cultural Negotiation (Gelfand & Dyer, 2000). Over time, aspects of these R2Ps
were incorporated into the HIG’s one-week course.
Having researchers supplement the instructor staff not only enhanced the value of the
training, it also offered researchers an opportunity for exposure to the practitioners. The
operations of the HIG are classified, and almost all the participants in the HIG core course and
the R2Ps worked in classified settings. Given that HIG scientists generally did not have a
security clearance, the wall between science and practice was substantial and had an unfortunate
effect: practitioners were unable to describe their operational challenges in detail nor were they
able to share how the methods drawn from research were being employed in the field.
3
However,
in the R2P setting, the practitioners were able to share their challenges without providing
classified details and the researchers were able to participate in the unclassified simulated
interrogation scenarios where their methods were employed. In the end, researchers also came
away from an R2P with a better understanding of the operational context, which helped generate
ideas for further research.
3
Arranging security clearances for researchers would have been problematic as several HIG-
sponsored researchers were not U.S. citizens. Moreover, holding a security clearance presents
additional administrative requirements for researchers seeking to publish their data in
unclassified, peer-reviewed journals.
By 2015, the HIG one-week course had been redesigned to include more of the HIG-
sponsored research findings, but this led to a difficulty in balancing the materials and skills to be
presented with what could be reasonably assimilated in a single week (the period of time
available given operational requirements). The final framework for the HIG course is shown in
Figure 2 (redrawn from Brandon et al., 2017). As can be seen, this framework also began with
Preparation & Analysis and then proceeded to instruction on active listening (Royce, 2005;
Wells et al., 2013) and how to identify and mitigate resistance. The interview methods were
rapport-based (e.g., Alison, et al., 2013), and situated in best practices for information elicitation
(e.g., Fisher & Geiselman, 1992), using open-ended questioning tactics and credibility
assessment (e.g., Vrij, 2000). The framework also contained modules that introduced topics for
which more advanced (R2P) training was available, including the aforementioned Strategic Use
of Evidence and Cognitive Interview.
The participants strongly advocated for a longer course while adult learning advisors
concurred that too many topics were covered. At the same time, the framework represented many
specialized research domains with minimal cross-domain collaboration, and this complexity
made it difficult for practitioners (and researchers) to grasp how the processes interacted.
Figure 2. The framework used in training HIG personnel (redrawn from Brandon, Wells &
Seale, 2017).
From Research to Practice
The National Security Council, Department of Justice, and Congress provide oversight
for the HIG (High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, 2015), and it is reasonable for
representatives of these bodies to inquire about the utility of the HIG methods in the field. Until
2016, the only evidence was anecdotal from trained practitioners, which was archived and, in
some instances, reported in the press (e.g., Kolker, 2016). The HIG research team made a
concerted effort to help the oversight agencies understand the inherent challenges in answering
their question empirically, the problems associated with notoriously unreliable self-reporting
(e.g., Nisbett & Wilson, 1977), the obstacles arising from reporting about HIG operations (which
Preparation
& Analysis
The
Interview
Case Files
Analysis
Listening
Observing, Feedback, Reassessment
Context
Management
RAPPORT
Summary
Credibility
Assessment
Cognitive
Interview
Reaffirm
Rapport
SUE
Data
Assessment
Active Listening
Identify
Resistance
Counter
Resistance
Cognitive
Interview
Credibility
Assessment
TED
Closing
are classified), and the prohibitions against research involving detainees.
Still, the HIG research program had set a goal to conduct efficacy studies of the field
applications of HIG research and the methods taught in the one-week course. Until 2015,
however, this was not possible. First, although initially offered in an unclassified setting, the one-
week course came to require a SECRET level security clearance, not because the content of the
course was classified but because participants felt they were unable to share their operational
experiences in an unclassified setting. In addition, many course participants came from military
or intelligence communities that did not provide those outside their own agencies with access to
interviews conducted by their personnel. Third, DoD policy (DoD Instruction 3216.02,
Protection of Human Subjects and Adherence to Ethical Standards in DoD supported Research)
prohibits any kind of research on detainees, as defined in DoD Directive 2310.01E (Reference
(p)). Finally, HIG research personnel lacked the resources required to conduct an efficacy study
on its own. Under these conditions, it was clear that partnerships were needed. One such
opportunity presented itself when a federal investigative agency charged with mitigating sexual
assaults within the U.S. military sought to enhance its interviewing model to better serve that
mission.
Sexual Assaults in the Military
The DoD conducted its first in-depth survey on sexual harassment in 1988 (Task Force
Report, 2004), followed by similar studies conducted by an array of Government agencies. In
2004, in response to reports of an increasing number of sexual assaults, then-Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld directed a review of the DoD process for the treatment and care of
victims of sexual assault in the military services (DoD Memorandum, 2004). The Sexual Assault
Response and Prevention Office (SARPO) was established (DoD Instruction, 2013) to ensure
that each Service complied with DoD-wide policies, including standards and training for
healthcare personnel, options for reporting sexual assault, and eligibility standards for healthcare
providers to perform Sexual Assault Forensic Examinations (DoD Instruction).
According to a 2016 report, 6,083 complaints had been filed in 2015. Of those, 1,500
involved a victim who reported an assault, asked for health care and victim support services, but
refused to participate in any criminal investigation (Tilghman, 2016). Of the 4,584 cases where
victims were willing to participate in a prosecution, 770 were dismissed by commanders who
determined insufficient evidence existed to pursue the case. Of the 543 cases that eventually
went to court-martial, 130 resulted in not-guilty verdicts. Of those that were convicted at court-
martial, 161 resulted in charges unrelated to assault, while only 254 cases (4% of complaints
filed) resulted in a service member being convicted of a sexual assault-related offense
(Tilghman, 2016).
Air Force Office of Special Investigations
The Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) provides criminal investigation and
counterintelligence services to commanders throughout the Air Force. To preserve its
investigative independence, the agency reports to the Inspector General of the Air Force. AFOSI
operates worldwide from over 250 field units, with 2,000 military and civilian credentialed
special agents, 1000 professional and military staff who provide operational support, and 400 Air
Force reservists (each category including officers and enlisted personnel). All new special agent
recruits go through an 11-week, entry-level training course at the Federal Law Enforcement
Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia, followed by an 8-week advanced course that is
AFOSI-specific.
All agents begin their careers as criminal investigators before specializing in other mission
areas (e.g., counterintelligence). They gain experience interviewing victims, witnesses, sources,
and subjects (suspects) for a broad range of criminal investigations, including sex offenses
(approximately 49% of AFOSI criminal cases in 2017), drug violations (35%), death
investigations (7%), and crimes against persons, property or society (9%). Each type of
investigation requires relationship-building, adaptive communication, and effective interviewing
skills.
AFOSI has long utilized specially-trained psychologists as consultants. The Behavioral
Sciences Directorate consists of a multidisciplinary team of psychologists and behavioral science
experts who provide direct consultation to criminal investigations, counterintelligence
operations, counterterrorism, special agent-training, assessment and selection, operational
performance, and personnel resilience. In recent years, their role in agent-training has grown
significantly to include topics in nearly every aspect of investigations and operations, most
notably in the areas of sex crimes investigations, eyewitness memory, victimology, investigative
decision-making, influence, and advanced interviewing techniques. AFOSI psychologists have
maintained a strong standing within the agency as subject matter experts, in part due to their
reputation for applying the latest scientific research and evidence-based methods when
supporting complex investigative questions.
As DoD was addressing the need to improve its sexual assault prevention and response
processes, AFOSI recognized it needed to improve its method for interviewing victims, using a
rapport-based approach that would increase the quantity and quality of information obtained. The
agency also recognized it needed to better educate its investigators on sexual assault matters, to
include gaining a greater understanding of victim experiences, memory, cognitive biases,
stereotypes, and trauma. AFOSI looked to its psychologists to find the best interview method and
to help develop a new advanced Sex Crimes Investigations Training Program (SCITP). After
exhaustive research and consultation with experts, the cognitive interview (Fisher & Geiselman,
1992) was selected as the agency’s method for interviewing victims of sexual assault, and this
was incorporated into the two-week course from its inception in 2012.
AFOSI investigators consistently reported that the cognitive interview improved the
effectiveness of their sexual assault investigations, a view supported by compelling case
examples and anecdotes that illustrated successful investigative outcomes. No structured data
were collected, however, to empirically assess improved effectiveness. Nonetheless, the reported
successes led some AFOSI agents to begin using the technique with other victims and witnesses.
One of the most significant effects of the method’s reported success with victim interviews was a
greater openness among senior agency leadership and field agents alike to explore new
techniques. AFOSI’s public commitment in 2012 to support evidence-based methods, reinforced
by the success of the cognitive interview with victims and witnesses, opened the door to the next
logical step forward. Specifically, AFOSI psychologists began to challenge the effectiveness of
traditional confrontational law enforcement methods for interviewing suspects as compared to
rapport-based, non-confrontational methods such as the cognitive interview. This evidence-based
focus led AFOSI to approach the HIG and propose a training-research partnership.
HIG/AFOSI Partnership
The HIG convened a two-day meeting with AFOSI and several HIG-sponsored researchers
and experienced practitioners in the summer of 2014 to articulate the requirements of AFOSI
agents and discuss the protocols and logistics of data collection. The plan that emerged after
subsequent review at both the HIG and at AFOSI called for four one-week courses to be offered
over a period of several months to 120 AFOSI agents, with each attendee providing one pre- and
one post-training video recording of a suspect interview they had conducted. These records
would be assessed for whether the agent used the science-based or traditional methods and for
the impact of those methods of information collection.
A primary concern of both parties was data protection. The plan that was adopted—which
would ensure the efficacy study research team would not be privy to any personally identifiable
information (PII)—entailed a process whereby AFOSI would have the video recordings of
agents’ interviews transcribed, with all PII and sensitive information removed. These transcripts
then served as the data for the research team. Following proper procedure, human subjects
research protocols for the project were submitted to and approved by both university Institutional
Review Boards (IRBs) and the FBI’s IRB.
At the request of AFOSI, the one-week HIG course was modified somewhat to allow for
greater emphasis on the cognitive interview (the framework used in the course is shown in
Figure 3). Given that AFOSI agents most often interview Air Force personnel, less emphasis was
placed on persuasion tactics as the command structure leads the subject to be cooperative, even if
not altogether truthful. A modified version of rapport-based questioning tactics (Alison et al.,
2013) and sensemaking (Taylor, 2002) were emphasized as methods to develop cooperation and
deal with resistance. In addition to the cognitive interview, methods of credibility assessment
were also included such as eliciting Verifiable Facts (e.g., Nahari & Vrij, 2014), asking
Unanticipated Questions (e.g., Vrij, Leal, Granhag, Mann, Fisher, Hillman, & Sperry, 2009),
imposing Cognitive Load (Vrij, Mann, & Fisher, 2012), using a Model Statement as a
demonstration of level of detail (Leal, Vrij, Warmelink, Vernham & Fisher, 2015), and eliciting
within-statement and evidence-statement inconsistencies and discrepancies with the SUE
technique (Hartwig et al. 2005).
Figure 3. The framework for the HIG course offered to AFOSI 2014 – 2015.
HIG research personnel also participated in the courses, providing instruction, coaching
practical exercises, and mentoring. Additional AFOSI psychologists (some of whom were
teaching the cognitive interview in the AFOSI advanced Sex Crimes Investigation Training
Program), were also present. The training itself included two or three practical exercises each
day, as well as a full-day interview simulation on the final day.
The instructors found the AFOSI agents receptive despite the fact that the material being
presented was often contrary to their previous training, which was a Reid-type model of
accusatory and confrontational interviewing (see Meissner, Kelly, & Woestehoff, 2015). There
Preparation
and Planning
The
Interview
Case Files
Analysis
Listening
Observing, Feedback, Reassessment
Priming
Relationship
Building
Free Narrative
Cognitive
Interview
Elaborated
Cognitive
Interview
Predictable
Dialogue
Context
Reinstatement
Instructions
Cognitive Load
Verifiable Facts
Model Statement
Summary
Multiple Retrieval Cues
Case Files
Analysis
Anticipating
Stereotypes
Setting
Objective(s)
Prepare
Environment
Develop
Discrepancies
Persuasion
Motivational
Interviewing:
Listening
Sense-Making
Good Questioning
Case Files
Analysis
Anticipating
Stereotypes
Setting
Objective(s)
Prepare
Environment
Persuasion
Motivational
Interviewing:
Listening
Sense-Making
Instructions
Context
Reinstatement
Multiple Retrieval Cues
Good Questioning
Free Narrative
Verifiable Facts
Cognitive Load
Model Statement
Unanticipated
Questions
were always a few attendees who were reluctant to engage, but the course schedule included
strategically planned exercises that were persuasive. One was an observation challenge that
involved an individual (one not associated with the course) who would briefly enter the
classroom and engage with the instructor. This interruption was surreptitiously video recorded
for later referral during a discussion on memory and the importance of eliciting a detailed
narrative. Most of the agents—who viewed themselves as ‘expert witnesses’—incorrectly
reported many of the salient details about this staged event. This experience frequently promoted
a more open-minded reception and encouraged a more collegial relationship between instructors
and the previously-resistant students.
Efficacy Analysis
A sample of 69 interrogations from 51 different investigators were eventually submitted for
analysis. Fifty of the interrogations were conducted prior to training, while 19 were conducted
post-training. Eighteen investigators were represented with a complete pre- and post-training set
of interviews. In all cases the transcripts were anonymized prior to providing them to the
research team for analysis. All coders received extensive training on the science-based
interviewing and interrogation methods presented during the course, as well as on traditional
accusatorial interrogation methods (Inbau, 2013). Coders were introduced to each element of the
training by reviewing materials that described the approaches and discussing key constructs with
the lead researchers. Sample interviews were then used to facilitate application of the material
and to align coders with respect to the items they would be evaluating. Appropriate steps were
taken to establish acceptable levels of interrater reliability.
Coders evaluated each transcript for the use of Reid-like accusatorial approaches, active
listening skills, investigator talking time, cognitive interview techniques, and rapport-based
techniques. Transcripts were also coded for perceived MI rapport (i.e., empathy, autonomy,
evocation, adaptation, acceptance), the presence of suspect counter-interrogation strategies (e.g.,
monosyllabic responses, silence, rehearsed responses), and relevant outcome measures that
included suspect cooperativeness, the amount of information disclosure (level of detail,
forthcomingness, completeness), and whether the subject provided incriminating statements
(including full confessions and partial admissions). Analysis of the results controlled for both
course iteration and variance attributable to interrogators over time.
Compared to pre-training, investigators increased their use of active listening skills, d =
1.15 [0.59, 1.71], and cognitive interviewing techniques, d = 1.62 [1.03, 2.22]. This is consistent
with finding a significant increase in perceived MI rapport, d = 0.90 [0.35, 1.45], and a
significant decrease in investigator talking time, d = 0.49 [0.04, 0.94], from pre- to post-training.
However, there were no training effects on the use of rapport-based tactics, evidence
presentation strategies, or accusatorial techniques (Russano et al., 2017).
With respect to the effects of training on key outcome variables, no differences in suspect
counter-interrogation strategies were observed. Conversely, there was a significant increase in
observed rapport with the subject, d = 0.90 [0.35, 1.45], a marginally significant increase in
suspect cooperativeness, d = 0.48 [-0.05, 1.02], p = .07, and a significant increase in information
disclosure, d = 0.92 [0.37, 1.47], from pre- to post-training. Although not reaching conventional
significance levels, the likelihood of a suspect providing a full confession increased from 30% to
47% post-training.
To understand the relationships between interviewing methods, perceived MI rapport,
and cooperation and information gain, a mediational path model was proposed that controlled for
the training effects noted above. Overall, the model provided a good fit to the data and accounted
for 41% of the variance in cooperation-resistance, and 48% of the variance in information gain.
As shown in Figure 4, active listening skills, cognitive interviewing techniques, and rapport-
based tactics both directly increased perceived MI rapport and indirectly increased information
elicitation via cooperation. Perceived MI rapport directly increased suspect cooperation, and
cooperation directly predicted increased information gain. The positive effects and expected
relationships between interview techniques, perceived rapport, and ultimately cooperation and
information disclosure confirmed the scientific efficacy of the tactics in an operational context.
Figure 4. A mediational path analysis of the HIG/AFOSI training data. Active listening skills,
cognitive interviewing techniques, and rapport-based tactics both directly increased perceived
MI rapport and indirectly increased information elicitation via cooperation.
In contrast to these positive effects of the science-based model, the use of accusatorial
techniques increased suspects’ use of counter-interrogation strategies, which reduced cooperation
and, indirectly, information gain. While the training was not designed to encourage the disuse of
accusatorial tactics, the modeling data suggest accusatorial tactics run counter to the goals of a
successful interrogation. These results are consistent with data obtained from interrogations in
notably different contexts (e.g., homicide interrogations [Kelly, Miller, & Redlich, 2015] and
criminal interviews of terrorist suspects [Alison et al., 2013, Alison et al., 2014]), where
Cooperation
Observed
Rapport
Rapport
Tactics
Information
Training
Cognitive
Interview
Active
Listening
Skills
interview approaches broadly described as rapport-based and information-gathering were shown
to increase cooperation and, in turn, the amount of information yielded by the subjects. The
pattern also is consistent with experimental assessments comparing information-gathering and
accusatorial tactics (Evans et al., 2013; Meissner et al., 2014; Meissner, Russano, & Atkinson,
2017).
Impacts
This effort provided a unique opportunity to demonstrate that the HIG framework was
making a positive difference: training resulted in an increased use of science-based interview
methods, and the use of science-based interview methods resulted in increased information yield.
The HIG had been mandated to compare the effectiveness of interrogation approaches and
develop “new lawful techniques to improve intelligence interrogations” (U.S. Department of
Justice, Task Force on Interrogations and Transfer Policies, 2009), and the partnership with
AFOSI was viewed as a step towards fulfilling that requirement. In addition, despite
administrative challenges, the effectiveness of the HIG/AFOSI partnership enabled the HIG
research program to prioritize additional similar efforts, some of which began in 2017 with the
Los Angeles Police Department (which had been supporting HIG research since 2013; see Kelly
et al., 2015), the Tempe AZ Police Department, the Department of Homeland Security
Immigration & Customs Enforcement, and the New York City Police Department.
By the end of 2015, AFOSI began modifying some of the content of existing advanced
courses for agents, incorporating components of the HIG/AFOSI course. The Advanced General
Crimes Investigations Course (AGCIC), for example, added the cognitive interview and blocks
on rapport-based tactics, eyewitness memory, and dispelling misconceptions about credibility
assessment (Davis, 2018). AGCIC was the first AFOSI-taught course to teach a rapport-based
(versus theme-based) method for interviewing suspects. In January 2017, all of AFOSI Training
Academy instructors at FLETC were trained in the HIG framework. The AFOSI Academy
immediately began development of a new two-week Cognitive Interviews and Interrogations
Course—first presented in December 2017—which expanded on the HIG/AFOSI course to
include more extensive practical exercises that involved realistic scenarios with actual
eyewitnesses (Davis, 2018). Concurrently, the Academy began incorporating some of the
material into the curriculum of AFOSI’s basic course and added the cognitive interview as the
method for interviewing victims and witnesses. In May 2018, AFOSI conducted a curriculum
review of the basic course, and made the decision to replace the FLETC 5-Step method with the
model introduced by the HIG/AFOSI partnership. This will require significant changes to
training content, but AFOSI expects to begin training the model to new agents by late 2018
under the auspices of the Behavioral Sciences Division.
Lessons Learned
Data acquisition. One of the practical challenges of this project was the procurement of
suspect interrogations recordings. Not all AFOSI investigators regularly conducted
interrogations, some interrogations did not fit the research criteria, and some investigators did
not immediately archive their video records. Also, several of the recordings presented
transcription difficulties because the interview was conducted in a foreign language or were of
poor audio quality. As a result, the research team had fewer transcripts than planned, which
limited limiting what could be inferred from the data.
Consistency across courses. Given that the one-week course was offered over a series of
months (September and November of 2014, and February and March of 2015), the instructors
felt obliged to revise the course based upon experiences with prior iterations and as they grew
more familiar with the AFOSI mission. A discussion of customary interrogation tactics, such as
those taught at the Reid school (Inbau, 2013), was added after the first iteration. There were also
changes in the composition of the support staff—to include AFOSI psychologists and HIG-
sponsored researchers—across the courses. Many of these individuals acted as coaches during
the practical exercises, so these changes likely influenced the instruction across iterations. While
such variance was less than optimal, the research team was able to control for the various course
iterations in their analysis of the data, and it was the collective judgment of the HIG/AFOSI team
that providing the best possible instruction was more important than a strict adherence to a
research protocol.
Training limitations. Not all AFOSI agents attended the course. In many instances, a
single agent would attend the training from a field office with multiple agents assigned. This
meant the trained agent would return to an office where traditional interview methods remained
the standard and the agent could not deploy the team-based HIG model. Given this challenge—
and the inherent restraints of one-time training (Salas, Tannenbaum, Kraiger, & Smith-Jentsch,
2012)—it would have been more effective to train both field agents and their supervisors, and to
also provide follow-on mentoring to sustain buy-in from senior management.
It’s not an intelligence interview. The HIG’s primary collection requirements focus on
intelligence rather than criminal justice. Some within the Intelligence Community have
questioned the usefulness of studying criminal interrogations to better understand intelligence
interrogations. The differences between these contexts has been described elsewhere (Evans,
Meissner, Brandon, Russano, & Kleinman, 2010), and while there are significant differences,
both maintain the goal of eliciting cooperation and information. The primary goal of the
HIG/AFOSI training was to enhance information yield, not elicit confessions. The argument was
made to trainees that information gain should be the primary goal of an interrogation, and even
where a confession is offered, additional information to support the admission will further
advance the investigation (e.g., Davis & Leo, 2006).
Scientist+Practitioner. Changing the content and culture of criminal and intelligence
interrogation/interview training is a slow process given the diversity and complexity of
practitioners, who range from well-trained intelligence officers to uniformed patrol officers. One
aspect of the training model that proved consistently effective was an instructor cadre that
offered the synergy of experienced practitioners with a strong knowledge of the science
alongside scientists with experience working with intelligence and law enforcement
professionals. Moreover, speaking with a single, evidence-based ‘voice’ added a strong measure
of credibility that ultimately earned the respect of the trainees. In short, the multidisciplinary,
scientist+practitioner model worked well to bridge the divide between the researcher and
practitioner communities.
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... A number of countries now utilize this approach to interview both cooperative and uncooperative subjects (e.g., the U.K., Walsh & Milne, 2008;Norway, Fahsing & Rachlew, 2013;New Zealand, Westera et al., 2017). Observational research conducted in the field (e.g., Alison et al., 2013;Brandon et al., 2019;Kelly et al., 2016) and laboratory research EVIDENCE-BASED TRAINING 7 attempting to experimentally demonstrate the effects of productive questioning (Griffiths & Milne, 2006;Powell et al., 2005) and rapport building (e.g., Wachi et al., 2018) have supported the use of this approach, including the benefits of an information-gathering approach for eliciting more information from a subject (Evans et al., 2013). A meta-analysis of laboratory studies indicates that such an approach leads to more diagnostic outcomes when compared with an accusatorial approach . ...
... Hence, studies have shown that the use of rapport tactics increase a subject's perception of rapport with the interviewer, leading to an increased likelihood that the subject decides to cooperate (see Brimbal, Kleinman et al., 2019). This mediational model has found support in several laboratory (e.g., and field studies (e.g., Brandon et al., 2019), and is one that we further validate in the current research (see Figure 1). The current study evaluates whether training an information-EVIDENCE-BASED TRAINING 11 gathering approach focused on rapport and trust might facilitate perceptions of rapport posttraining, and indirectly influence the decision to cooperate / resist and the amount of information disclosed. ...
... While there EVIDENCE-BASED TRAINING 12 is substantial utility in evaluating the use of evidence-based tactics in real-world contexts (cf. Brandon et al., 2019;Russano et al., 2019), the inability to determine ground truth and to exert some degree of control over case factors and interview context can create challenges for interpreting the efficacy of training and interview methods. As such, the current study comprises one of the first systematic evaluations of a rapport-based approach to investigative interviewing and assesses the effectiveness of such tactics for establishing cooperation and eliciting information both prior to and following a training intervention. ...
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Objective: The purpose of this study was to test the effectiveness of a rapport-based approach to interviewing that includes productive questioning skills, conversational rapport, and relational rapport-building tactics. Hypotheses: We predicted that training police investigators in a rapport-based approach would significantly increase the use of rapport-based tactics and that such tactics would directly influence the interviewee’s perceptions of rapport and indirectly lead to increased cooperation and disclosure of information. Method: We trained federal, state, and local law enforcement investigators (N = 67) in the use of evidence-based interviewing techniques. Both before and after this training, investigators interviewed semi cooperative subjects (N = 125). Interviews were coded for the use of various interview tactics, as well as subjects’ disclosure. Participants also completed a questionnaire regarding their perceptions of the interviewer and their decision to cooperate with the interviewer. Results: Evaluations of the training were positive, with high ratings of learning, preparedness to use tactics, and likelihood of use following the training. In posttraining interviews, investigators significantly increased their use of evidence-based tactics, including productive questioning, conversational rapport, and relational rapport-building tactics. Structural equation modeling demonstrated that investigators’ use of the evidence-based interview tactics was directly associated with increased perceptions of rapport and trust and indirectly associated with increased cooperation and information disclosure. Conclusions:We demonstrated that rapport-based interview tactics could be successfully trained and that using such tactics can facilitate perceptions of rapport and trust, reduce individuals’ resistance to cooperate, and increase information yield.
... This approach represents an evidence-based alternative to the biased and problematic questioning approaches that have been used with witnesses and victims and the accusatorial tactics that have long shaped customary practice in the interrogation of suspects (Kassin et al., 2010). Much like the PEACE model, information-gathering approaches place an emphasis on more productive questioning skills, the development of rapport, the use of cognitive mnemonics to improve recall, and a strategic approach to challenging inconsistencies with evidence or investigative information (Brandon et al., 2019a). ...
... The development and adoption of PEACE in England and Wales was the product of a collaboration between practitioners and scholars (Clarke & Milne, 2016). Similar collaborations have informed the science-based model of investigative interviewing presented in this chapter, including many of the techniques and efficacy studies conducted in support of the model (see Brandon et al., 2019a;Meissner et al., 2017). Such collaborations are critical for creating policy and implementing evidence-based practices (see Bornstein & Meissner, this volume), and have long been advocated within the investigative interviewing literature . ...
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Investigative interviews are an essential tool for any criminal investigation and are conducted across a variety of contexts and subject populations. In each context, key psychological processes function to regulate communication between an interviewer and a subject – from developing rapport and trust, to facilitating memory retrieval, to assessing credibility. Over the past 50 years, research on investigative interviewing has dramatically increased to include assessing cooperative interviews with witnesses/victims, interviews with more resistant suspects and sources, and interviewing to detect deception. We review the various topics that have been examined and discuss three fundamental challenges to eliciting the truth: (i) investigative biases, (ii) the frailty of human memory, and (iii) resistance to providing information. We then introduce a model of science-based investigative interviewing that encompasses both relational and informational tactics shown to be effective in developing rapport and trust, eliciting accurate information, and facilitating judgments of credibility. Finally, we discuss the policy and practice implications of this research, including recent efforts at reform around the world.
... Training Center that demonstrated the effectiveness of the Cognitive Interview protocol when compared with a five-step interview protocol that has been taught in federal law enforcement training for decades. Recent training studies that introduce evidence-based interviewing protocols have also involved important collaborations (and authorship) with practitioners (Brandon et al., 2019;Brimbal et al., 2021;Luke et al., 2016). On the clinical side, collaborations between universities and public behavioral health organizations have resulted in the development of clinics that provide evaluation and mental health services to justice-involved individuals (Heilbrun et al. 2021). ...
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Psycholegal research is, by design, a field devoted to evaluating and addressing issues that directly affect the justice system. At the same time, many scholars in the field have experienced first-hand the frustrations of bridging the divide between research and policy or practice. In this chapter we discuss key issues and challenges involved in bridging this divide by focusing on a number of cardinal questions: Why influence policy? When, where, and how might we do so? How much evidence must there be before adopting a particular policy? And what policies can (or should) we address? We argue that psycholegal research should operate within a translational research framework, and we encourage scholars to communicate their findings to a broader audience, spend time with the professionals for whom their research is intended, introduce students to best practices for conducting policy-relevant research, and reconsider how we evaluate one another’s contributions in the academy.
... Namely, field research on national security intelligencegathering is difficult to conduct because of its secret nature, but it is critical to understand (2) CREF = cooperation, resistance, engagement, and forthcomingness; CI = confidence interval. and improve practices in the name of security (Brandon et al., 2019). Existing research conducted with police investigators has attempted to draw lessons applicable to classified interrogations, but those lessons are opaque at best and largely unknowable. ...
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The majority of research on investigative interviewing has been on police attempting to solve a crime by obtaining a confession or gathering information, and comparatively fewer studies have examined interviewing at points “downstream” in the process, such as in the courts or correctional system. Furthermore, the focus of the research has been to measure the variable techniques or questioning strategies that produce confessions or information at the expense of analyzing factors related to the interview itself. Thus, we analyzed a sample of 50 corrections-based interviews for “dynamic” interviewing methods and interviewee responses that were measured at three points throughout the interview, and we measured 10 “static” interview factors. In the final multilevel model, we found that productive questioning methods increased a component score that combined interviewee cooperation, engagement, and forthcomingness, the several measures of accusatorial interrogation methods decreased the outcome measure, and the case-level variable of interviewee-initiated interviews increased it.
... In addition to the mentioned primary processes, the research program also funded projects that examined culture, specifically interpreters and language. The research program has since lead to the development of a training framework to move the researched processes from the laboratory to the field (Brandon et al., 2019) ...
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The following study used self- report data from a sample of police investigators of Sub-Sahara African nations to identify interviewing/interrogation techniques used in the region and capture the opinions of the techniques used. The literature review provides an overview of the current state of democratic policing in Sub-Saharan African nations, the global interview and interrogation literature, and the gap in literature that exist in relation to the topic from a cultural and international psychology perspective. A concurrent nested mixed-methods design was utilized in response to the research questions. Results indicate the interview techniques reported used by investigators in Sub-Sahara Africa nations are similar to those reported used in the United States and other parts of the world, and the issue of obtaining false confessions and false information should be explored further. Also, opinions related to the effectiveness and attitudes concomitant to bounded authority influences the interviewer's decision to choose a confrontational or non-confrontational method.
... North America is no exception to this movementalthough accusatorial practices remain prevalent across the continent, aspects of the PEACE framework have become popular in Canada (Snook, Luther, Quinlan, & Milne, 2012), and leading interrogation training companies in the United States (e.g., Wicklander-Zulawski, John E. Reid & Associates) are now offering non-accusatorial suspect interviewing courses. A recent U.S. government research and training programme led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation has also begun to develop and assess science-based alternatives to customary practice (Brandon et al., 2019;Meissner et al., 2017). Although much progress has been made, I believe that two key research issues remain if we are to truly establish a viable alternative to customary practice. ...
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The current article presents a series of commentaries on urgent issues and prospects in reforming interrogation practices in Canada and the United States. Researchers and practitioners, who have devoted much of their careers to the field of police and intelligence interrogations, were asked to provide their insights on an area of interrogation research that they believe requires immediate attention. The submitted independent commentaries covered a variety of topics – from police recruitment, interrogation training, use of proper interrogation practices, and the treatment of confession evidence in court. Common concerns from the contributions pertained to the lag between scientific knowledge on interrogations and the application of such knowledge in the justice system, and the glaring disparity between the treatment of similar issues in the interrogation context versus other criminal justice contexts. A primary intent of this collection of commentaries is to serve as a resource pointing researchers in the direction of the fundamental areas that require immediate consideration and encouraging them to simultaneously pursue solutions to the overarching concerns that emerged from this project.
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Under Title IX, schools in the United States that receive federal financial assistance are legally required to provide a prompt and impartial process for investigating complaints of sex-based discrimination. These investigations critically rely upon information obtained in interviews. We provide an evaluation of interview training that is presently available to college and university Title IX investigators. Our review finds that while certain core interviewing skills align with evidence-based practice and available research, other suggested practices are at odds with the available science, and additional effective interviewing practices related to the retrieval of memory and the assessment of credibility are critically absent. We recommend a set of evidence-based practices for Title IX investigative interviews that are likely to (a) improve the development of rapport and cooperation with an interviewee, (b) elicit more accurate and relevant information from memory, and (c) enhance assessments of credibility when applying strategic questioning approaches.
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Interrogation practices in the United States have been roundly criticized both for their accusatorial ethos, at times leading to false confessions by the innocent, and for a history of applying physical and psychological coercion in law enforcement, military, and intelligence contexts. Despite decades of psychological research demonstrating the failures of such approaches and despite recent positive advances in countries such as the United Kingdom moving to an information-gathering framework, little change has occurred in the training or practice of U.S. interrogation professionals over the past 50 years. This paper describes recent historical events that have led to the development of the first unclassified, government-funded research program on the science of interviewing and interrogation. Since 2010, the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) Research Program has identified effective approaches for developing cooperation and rapport, eliciting information, challenging inconsistencies by presenting evidence or information strategically, and assessing credibility using cognitive cues and strategic questioning tactics. The program has also examined the influence of culture and language, and has facilitated the translation of research from the laboratory to the field. In this context, we review the significant contributions of psychologists to understanding and developing ethical, legal, and effective interrogation practices, and we describe important future directions for research on investigative interviewing and interrogation.
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Research on embodied cognition and priming show that human behavior is influenced nonconsciously by the environment in metaphoric ways. Previous research has shown that conceptual priming can lead people to disclose sensitive information (Davis, Soref, Villalobos, & Mikulincer, 2016; Dawson, Hartwig, & Brimbal, 2015). Here, we sought to examine whether concepts of openness can be activated to promote disclosure within the interview itself, through the physical setting. In two laboratory studies, participants were exposed to details of a mock environmental terrorism conspiracy through a courier task, which they were subsequently interviewed about in different settings. In Study 1, participants were interviewed in either a room designed to activate openness, or a prototypically enclosed, bare custodial interview room. In Study 2, we manipulated both architectural and interior features of both rooms. Challenging the status quo that a small room is optimal for investigative interviewing, our findings offer compelling evidence that the spaciousness of an interview room can influence a person's tendency to be "open" with or "closed" about information. (PsycINFO Database Record
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Purpose. In previous laboratory-based work, the Scharff technique has proved successful for gathering intelligence from human sources. However, little is known about whether the technique can be taught to practitioners, and whether Scharff-trained practitioners will interview more effectively than colleagues using their conventional approaches and tactics. Method. We examined professional handlers from the Norwegian Police (n = 64), all experienced in interacting with informants. Half received training in the Scharff technique, and their performance was compared against handlers receiving no Scharff training and free to use the approaches they saw fit. All handlers received the same case file describing a source holding information about a future terrorist attack and were given the same interview objectives. Police trainees (n = 64) took on the role of semicooperative sources and were given incomplete information about the attack. Results. The trained handlers adhered to the Scharff training as they (1) aimed to establish the illusion of 'knowing-it-all', (2) posed claims to collect information, and (3) asked few (if any) explicit questions. In contrast, the untrained handlers tried to evoke the sources' motivation to reveal information and asked a high number of explicit questions. Scharff-trained handlers were perceived as less eager to gather information, but collected comparatively more new information. Conclusions. The Scharff-trained interviewers utilized more specific elicitation tactics (e.g., posing claims) and fewer general interview strategies (e.g., evoking motivation), and they collected comparatively more new information. This captures the essence of the Scharff technique: It is subtle, yet effective. Gathering information from human sources is a fundamental and unceasing endeavour in the prevention of crime. However, researchers have only recently begun to develop and evaluate methods for gathering human intelligence (Evans et al.,
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Proponents of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ in the United States have claimed that such methods are necessary for obtaining information from uncooperative terrorism subjects. In the present article, we offer an informed, academic perspective on such claims. Psychological theory and research shows that harsh interrogation methods are ineffective. First, they are likely to increase resistance by the subject rather than facilitate cooperation. Second, the threatening and adversarial nature of harsh interrogation is often inimical to the goal of facilitating the retrieval of information from memory, and therefore reduces the likelihood that a subject will provide reports that are extensive, detailed, and accurate. Third, harsh interrogation methods make lie detection difficult. Analyzing speech content and eliciting verifiable details are the most reliable cues to assessing credibility; however, to elicit such cues subjects must be encouraged to provide extensive narratives, something that does not occur in harsh interrogations. Evidence is accumulating for the effectiveness of rapport-based, information-gathering approaches as an alternative to harsh interrogations. Such approaches promote cooperation, enhance recall of relevant and reliable information, and facilitate assessments of credibility. Given the available evidence that torture is ineffective, why might some laypersons, policy makers, and interrogation personnel support the use of torture? We conclude our review by offering a psychological perspective on this important question.
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The present paper reports the development of an information sheet designed to aid interpreters in police interviews in recognizing, conveying and inadvertently obstructing rapport-building efforts by police interviewers. The contents of this sheet were informed by past research defining rapport, and rapport uses in police interviews. We used a mixed experimental design to test the information sheet. One group (Intervention, n = 35) was randomly assigned to read an information sheet before responding to short vignettes of police interviewing foreign non-English speaking suspects about international crimes, while another (Control) group (n = 37) simply responded to the vignettes. Perceptions of rapport cues by the intervention group exceeded that of the control group. However, the groups performed equally well at identifying appropriate methods to convey/avoid obstructing rapport. Feedback from the intervention group on the helpfulness of the information sheet was largely positive. The findings were used to improve the information sheet which can be used to alert interpreters to the importance of rapport in suspect interviews.
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Premised on a body of literature suggesting target-interviewer rapport is a critical component of successful interviews, we explored the effect of two interpreter-related variables – the physical placement of the interpreter in the room, and the nature of the relationship between the interpreter and the target – on target-interviewer rapport. A total of 125 bilingual (Spanish/English) participants viewed a mock crime video and were then interviewed, via an interpreter (or not). Interpreters either built rapport with the participant immediately prior to the interview or did not, and were either seated beside the interviewer or behind the target, commensurate with recommendations from training manuals. When the interpreter and target engaged in a short rapport-building session prior to an investigative interview, the target rated their interaction with the interviewer less negatively compared to when rapport-building did not occur. Furthermore, when the interpreter sat behind the target, the target viewed the interaction more negatively than when the interpreter sat beside the interviewer (triangular configuration). These findings suggest ways in which interpreters can be utilized more effectively, especially in terms of seating configuration, rapport development between a target and interpreter, and importantly, the potential for that target-interpreter rapport to transfer to the target-interviewer relationship.
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In 2016, the U.S. Congress mandated that federal intelligence interrogators adhere to the methods of the U.S. Army Field Manual FM 2–22.3 (AFM) and that the manual be revised based upon empirically based evaluations of the interrogation methods’ effectiveness with interviewees motivated to withhold information. In the present study, 120 participants took part in a testing situation in which half were induced to cheat. All participants were then accused of cheating and interrogated with either (a) a combination of AFM interrogation approaches that focused on the potential benefits of cooperation with the interviewer (cooperation-focused condition), or (b) a combination of AFM approaches that focused on the potential risks of withholding information (withholding-focused condition). Participants who cheated on the test were significantly more likely to admit their wrongdoing and to provide additional relevant information when interrogated with the withholding-focused approaches than when questioned with the cooperation-focused approaches. The “we know all” AFM approach was especially effective for eliciting truthful admission-related details. Participants reported high rapport with the interrogator in both the cooperation-focused and withholding-focused conditions. These findings indicate that the we-know-all approach can be effective for maintaining rapport and eliciting accurate information in brief interrogations.
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A range of studies have examined what should be said and done in crisis negotiations. Yet, no study to date has considered what happens when an error is made, how to respond to an error, and what the consequences of errors and responses might be on the negotiation process itself. To develop our understanding of errors, we conducted 11 semi-structured interviews with police crisis negotiators in the Netherlands. Negotiators reported making errors of three types: factual, judgment, or contextual. They also reported making use of four types of response strategy: accept, apologize, attribute, and contradict. Critically, the negotiators did not perceive errors as solely detrimental, but as an opportunity for feedback. They advocated for an error management approach, which focused on what could be learned from another person's errors when looking back at them. Suggestions for improvement of the communication error management experience in crisis negotiations are discussed.