Utility and effectiveness of the context manipulation techniques: police investigators’ perspectives

Katherine Hoogesteyn, Ewout Meijer, Aldert Vrij

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The foremost goal of conducting an investigative interview is to obtain as much accurate information as possible. To achieve this, investigators employ a variety of interviewing techniques. Kelly et al. (Psychol Public Policy Law 19:165–178, 2013) proposed a taxonomy interviewing techniques, grouping them into six domains (i.e., Rapport and Relationship Building, Context Manipulation, Emotion Provocation, Collaboration, Confrontation/Competition, and Presentation of Evidence). In this study, we focused on assessing the Context Manipulation domain (e.g., considering seating arrangements, time of day, clothing). Specifically, we sought to examine police investigators’ use and beliefs about the effectiveness of context manipulation techniques. A sample of 81 police investigators completed the survey. Our findings provide evidence that investigators believe the interview setting to have importance and are already employing some context manipulation techniques in their practice. Techniques mentioned most often were related to seating arrangement, investigators’ clothing, and item availability for suspects (e.g., water, coffee). This survey also provides evidence that investigators are receptive to using context manipulation techniques in their practice, despite how little they are currently taught during trainings. Understanding what context manipulation techniques investigators use and believe to be useful in their interviewing practice may have implications for future training, as well as for the (re)design of interview rooms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-247
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date4 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


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