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Interviewing and Interrogation: The Trap of Too Many Choices | Tip # 21 of 101 Tips

Interviewing and Interrogation

The “trap” of giving too many choices.

Without a doubt, there is no such thing as a perfect interviewing and interrogation session. Smart interviewers however, will learn from their mistakes and should be doing extensive reading and research to human behaviors, reaction and response behaviors and most importantly how to use ethical and effective persuasion tactics. One pitfall that can be avoided is overwhelming a subject with too many choices to make during any interviewing and interrogation event.

Okay, I’ll admit that one of my favorite desserts is cheesecake.  I love cheesecake! Unfortunately, my problem is I’ve probably never met a cheesecake recipe that I didn’t like.  Therein lies the problem!  As you can imagine, a trip to the “Cheesecake Factory” can be a nightmare for me.  So many choices, so little time, and the futility of guarding my waistline. The problem (albeit a good one!) is that the Cheese Cake Factory has so many good cheese cake variations and I can’t decide.  Eventually when I do decide, there is always that nagging question in my mind “Wonder if that “other one” was really good?”

The same problem exists during an interviewing and interrogation session.  As the interviewer, there is often the urge to “overwhelm” the subject with every piece of evidence and information we have at our disposal.  The end goal being that the subject will feel it is futile to even resist saying “No” to our overtures for cooperation or an admission or even confession.  The is invariably true during “guilt assumptive” or “accusatory” styles of interviewing and interrogation.  The end result is often non-productive.

When a subject is overloaded during interviewing and interrogation, three things will happen:

  1. Your subject will be frustrated because they are being face with too many choices at one time.
  2. Because the subject is faced with too many choices, the decision making time frame is exponentially extended.  This often triggers the interviewer to push that much harder.
  3. When a person overwhelmed with choices and feels they are being pushed to a decision their first instinctive reaction is to survive and reject all the choices.

During any interviewing and interrogation scenario, only offer your subject one issue at a time to consider.  Resolve the issue and only put it aside if absolutely necessary before you bring up a new issue.  Your overall results will be faster and more positive.

Watch Tip # 21 of 101 Tips for Interviewers and Interrogators and learn more!

interviewing and interrogation video tips

101 Tips for Interview & Interrogators

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Interview and Interrogation Training: It’s Not One and Done.

One interview and interrogation training course is NOT a vaccination!  Just because you took one course on the topic doesn’t mean you don’t need or won’t benefit from any more follow-up training. More often that not investigators and especially their administrators maintain the philosophy that once you take a course on interview and interrogation, you don’t really need any more training on the topic for the rest of your career.

The last 10 – 12 years has seen an enormous amount new research and legal rulings on interview and interrogation.  To maintain a high level of proficiency and reduce personal legal liability, investigators should be constantly studying and researching interview and interrogation research as well as their particular field of expertise. A VERY large majority of the research has proven that many of our detection of deception techniques are absolutely wrong!  Unfortunately misdiagnosis of deception signs is one of the leading causes of false confessions.  Even more disturbing is how many people teaching interview and interrogation have been ignoring the empirical research and are responsible for continuing to perpetuate myths about deception and interrogation.

Questions the professional interviewer & interrogator should ask themselves –

  1. Am I dedicated to being the best in my field including my interview & interrogation skills?  Am I a “virtuoso” in my field or am I just average?
  2. Am I spending 30 – 60 minutes per day reading about interview and interrogation or about my area of specialization?
  3. Have I ever spent the equivalent of the cost of a gourmet cup of coffee on educating and improving myself and my knowledge base?
  4. How long ago did I take any training or refresher training on interview & interrogation?
  5. Have I really looked at the true “source” of my interview and interrogation training? Is what I am being taught supported by empirical evidence or is it just anecdotal.  As business expert Mark Sanborn wrote in his latest business book “Up, Down or Sideways,” despite popular belief “data is not the plural of anecdotal.”
  6. Am I learning for the future?  The more you learn, the more you know what you are going to need to learn to be able to adapt to what you will encounter in the future.

If nothing else, there is one more VERY good reason to read, research and study our interview and interrogation skills.  We dramatically improve our chances of success in the interview room and in the field.

Mark Sanborn wrote “The more you learn, the more you develop behavioral flexibility that provides you a distinct advantage over your competition.”

Stan B. Walters, CSP
“The Lie Guy®”
TheLieGuy.com
The Interview Room
The3rdDegree.com
StanTheLieGuySpeaks.

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Interrogation & Memory: Ethics of Lying to Subjects About Evidence

Interrogation techniques taught to investigators run the gamut of styles and philosophies. Certain styles have a higher tendency of showing up in false confessions cases. One of the characteristics of those flawed techniques is the use of false evidence as a tool to get the subject to confess.

There are numerous “problem” interrogation techniques that teach and support the use of false evidence to put pressure on the subject. Suspect techniques tend to also recommend tactics that include suggesting unnamed witnesses, the presence of surveillance cameras when none exist, DNA, fingerprints, footprints, making up file folders purportedly filled with evidence, labeling DVD’s of video tapes with the subject’s name and more. This is typical of high pressure interrogation methods which in and of themselves have a high correlation with false confession.

A documented tactic used by some problem interrogation methods that has been shown to have a very strong correlation to false confessions is the use of the high pressure tactic of suggesting that the subject has a memory problem. There is empirical evidence that one of several common denominators found in false confessions is referred to as “memory distrust syndrome.” In many of these cases the subject need not have a “high suggestibility rating” as described in extensive research on false confessions. Using high pressure tactics, guilt assumptive techniques dominated by leading questions, interrupting the subject, short answer questioning techniques, combined with the interviewer suggesting the subject may not be able to trust their memory is a deadly combination.

Empirical studies of interrogation techniques that capitalize on false evidence do promote false confessions. Such tactics will also contaminate the statements of uncooperative victim’s and witnesses.

Our law enforcement training academies and corporate loss prevention training associations would do well if they would familiarize themselves with the techniques that promote such tactics. They are exposing themselves, their academies, their investigators and their companies to the risk of liability by training their personnel in methods and interrogation techniques that are now being made illegal in many countries.

I think it’s time we paid more attention to the interrogation methods we teach. Are we just training our personnel in a technique because of the name or more importantly, are we really aware of the the moral and legal ethical problems that exist due to the content of the training.

Of course, this just my opinion on the topic.

Stan B. Walters, CSP
“The Lie Guy®”
TheLieGuy.com
The Interview Room
The3rdDegree.com
StanTheLieGuySpeaks.

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Lying: Eye Contact & Deception: The Myth That Won’t Die!

One of the most persistent myths about signs of deception is that a break in eye contact is a sign of lying.  NOTHING could be further from the truth.  The sad part is that law enforcement academies keep shooting themselves in the foot by perpetuating the myth.

I recently read an article posted on PoliceOne.com (an excellent site I might add!)  submitted with a title that screamed “The eyes have it: How to detect deception: If there is a #1 rule in the interpretation of non-verbal human behavior, it is to look for breaks in eye contact.” In my opinion the article was loaded with unsubstantiated declarations and anecdotal evidence as proof positive that breaks in eye contact are the number 1 sign of deception.

The sad thing is, the author trains not only law enforcement and criminal justice agencies as well as loss prevention and risk management professionals.  He also professes that he teaches material suitable for “certification.” Based on the content of the article, it is obvious that he has never read single piece of social-psychological research because if he did he would learn that what he is professing “as an authority” is pure bogus myth.  Conservatively speaking, there are now well over 30 plus articles outlining empirical evidence that refute his claim.   Well… we should won’t want “science” the get in the way of our pre-conceptions!

In the meantime, interrogators and their agencies are being dragged into court for seriously flawed and contaminated  victim and witness interviews and severely flawed interrogations including false confession cases.  A good portion of the problem can be traced back to courses taught in our academies that espouse such unsubstantiated, disproven, baseless and scientifically inaccurate content that in my opinion borders on the side of negligence.

My message to academies to bring this type of crap into their training schedule should be more diligent about the content and the supporting documentation to avoid this type of drivel.

Of course, this is just my opinion but I would like to hear your point of view including your experiences with the same type of problem.

 

Stan B. Walters, CSP
“The Lie Guy®”
TheLieGuy.com
The Interview Room
The3rdDegree.com
StanTheLieGuySpeaks.

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