Interviewing strategically to elicit admissions from guilty suspects

Serra Tekin, Pär Anders Granhag, Leif Strömwall, Erik Mac Giolla, Aldert Vrij, Maria Hartwig

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Abstract

In this article we introduce a novel interviewing tactic to elicit admissions from guilty suspects. By influencing the suspects’ perception of the amount of evidence the interviewer holds against them, we aimed to shift the suspects’ counterinterrogation strategies from less to more forthcoming. The proposed tactic (SUE-Confrontation) is a development of the Strategic Use of Evidence (SUE) framework and aims to affect the suspects’ perception by confronting them with statement-evidence inconsistencies. Participants (N = 90) were asked to perform several mock criminal tasks before being interviewed using 1 of 3 interview techniques: (a) SUE-Confrontation, (b) Early Disclosure of Evidence, or (c) No Disclosure of Evidence. As predicted, the SUE-Confrontation interview generated more statement-evidence inconsistencies from suspects than the Early Disclosure interview. Importantly, suspects in the SUE-Confrontation condition (vs. Early and No disclosure conditions) admitted more self-incriminating information and also perceived the interviewer to have had more information about the critical phase of the crime (the phase where the interviewer lacked evidence). The findings show the adaptability of the SUE-technique and how it may be used as a tool for eliciting admissions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-252
Number of pages9
JournalLaw and Human Behavior
Volume39
Issue number3
Early online date6 Apr 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015

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