Toward a scientific, evidence-based understanding of interrogation: A principled approach

Talk / lecture
interviewing techniques
false confessions
Meissner, C. (2013). Toward a scientific, evidence-based understanding of interrogation: A principled approach [keynote]. Paper presented at the International Investigative Interviewing Research Group (iIIRG) 2013, Maastricht, NL.
Summary / Abstract: 

Notes: iIIRG second keynote. Toward a scientific, evidence-based understanding of interrogation: A principled approach. There is an algorythmic structure of interviewing. Important initial step - overcome resistance, ellicit cooperation/compliance. You assess credibility (there are cues to deception). On the interviewer side - biases and stereotypes affect the interrogation.


Basically this discipline is based on a guild system. It is right now built on 1) previous experience, 2) shared knowledge and 3) formal norms.

There are limits to this system. Nonformal experience, folk law might be wrong:

Rose, Bisson, Churchill, & Wessely (2009) Claim that PTSD treatment that is widely adopted (get people to talk about the event asap) is counterproductive and just wrong. I am sceptical. here is the reference to the relevant article (retrieved and part of this repository): 

Rose, S. C., Bisson, J., Churchill, R., & Wessely, S. (2009). Psychological debriefing for preventing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (Intervention Review) (Publication no. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000560.).  Retrieved July, 2013, from John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

So there is some leeway to introduce more systematized theories in conjunction with interviewing.


There is work to be done: biases, psychology of persuasion, motivation, emotions, etc


PSY models of false confession
Can we distinguish true and false confessions? Tentatively yes. Here are the partial references:
Gudjonsson (2003); St-Yves & Deslauriers-Varin (2009)

Chris is interested in irrational urge to confess.
- Affect, stress of imagined consequences, proof, guilt-shame, social pressure

Siggurdsson, Gudjonsson (1996) - look at true and false confessors (f.c. - social pressure, ignoring consequences of confession. t.c. - feeling of guilt, concern of consequences if they don't confess).

C.M. - six studies, n=1000. path analysis, meta-analysis. A number of articles published on that.

Partially confirm S and G - f.c. same as S and G.; t.c. - different


Spent time with Cialdini (refers to him as Bob) and has gotten insight, but nothing published yet.



Speaker: Chris Meissner
University of Texas, el Passo