The influence of interview style on SIOs’ responsiveness to the suspect’s alibi

Martijn van Beek*, Ray Bull, Melissa Chen, Ivar Fahsing, Rebecca Milne

*Corresponding author for this work

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In criminal investigations it may happen that the police will collect and use information that is actually incorrect. Making sure that such error is detected and corrected is part of the legal and operational burden placed on any investigating officer, but especially on the Senior Investigative Officer (SIO).
This present study explored to what degree different interview styles will affect SIO decision-making, since interviewing witnesses and suspects is an important source of information for the police. A sample of 115 Dutch and Norwegian SIOs therefore performed an online vignette task. They read about a fictitious, but realistic case and received a report of an interview with the suspect. In this interview the suspect had provided an alibi for one of the pieces of information that were disclosed to her, and that actually was an incorrect piece of information. In the report the SIOs received, the interviewer either picked up the alibi (adaptive condition), reacted indifferently to it (neutral) or discredited it right away (maladaptive).
A significant effect was found for interview style being associated with SIOs’ responsiveness: the SIOs who read the adaptive or neutral interview report were significantly more responsive to the alibi than those who read the maladaptive report. The implications of this finding are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology
Early online date26 Oct 2022
Publication statusEarly online - 26 Oct 2022


  • Criminal investigation
  • decision making
  • investigative interviewing
  • cognitive bias
  • police
  • senior investigative officer


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