Online counter-interrogation tactics by reluctant mock-sources

Alejandra De La Fuente Vilar*, Lorraine Hope, Feni Kontogianni, Simon Oleszkiewicz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

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The analysis of human intelligence (HUMINT) interviews has allowed for the conceptualisation and categorisation of counter-interrogation tactics (CITs) used by reluctant interviewees. Interviewees’ verbal and non-verbal responses across an interview often oscillate along a cooperativeness-uncooperativeness continuum, and the use of CITs reflect the interviewee’s unwillingness to report information. To date, CITs have been examined only in face-to-face interactions; as such little is known about the form they take in online interactions. In a pre-registered experiment investigating a rapport-based interviewing approach, we examined the CITs used by HUMINT mock-sources (N = 202) in an online chat interview (i.e., text-based communication only). Findings indicate that interviewees strategically disclosed and withheld information, and that their pattern of reluctant reporting was characterised by the use of CITs similar to those present in real face-to-face HUMINT interviews. Moreover, this corpus of interviews provided the opportunity to identify specific verbal CITs present in the online context. To undermine information elicitation, interviewees commonly chose to provide: incomplete information; some incriminatory information about a different target than the one in question; and justifications for their claims that they lack relevant knowledge. These findings are particularly relevant for security practitioners eliciting intelligence and critical information in online contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2022
EventBehavioural and Social Sciences in Security, 2022 - Lancaster, United Kingdom
Duration: 19 Jul 2022 → …


ConferenceBehavioural and Social Sciences in Security, 2022
Abbreviated titleBASS 22
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period19/07/22 → …


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