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The Narrative-Based Interview: Filtering Technique

Stan B. Walters, CSP
“The Lie Guy®”

It is now no secret that a narrative-based interview is the most productive and successful interview technique over the more restrictive accusatory style.  Some of the most recent social psychological research has shown that the narrative process generates not only more information but also has the benefit of stimulating more deception cues if the victim, witness or suspect attempts to mislead the interviewer.  Perhaps another side benefit may be that this technique also allows the interviewer to use a progressive “filter” to help isolate those deception cues for further attention during the cross-examination phase of the interview.


The narrative based interview is a four part information recovery system.  After establishing a baseline through an “orientation” effort, the interviewer then creates an environment favorable to allow the person to explain their observations and point of view regarding any incident under inquiry.  The format in and of itself has consistently proven the ability to recover a large amount of raw information from not only a suspect but just as importantly from any victims and / or witnesses.  A larger verbal response creates details and information sufficient for an abundance of follow-up opportunities for the interviewer.


The first level narrative permits the interviewer to “filter” the statement for any holes, contradictions and inconsistencies in the statement.  The interviewer can now focus his questions on these nuggets to an attempt to clarify the information and make an assessment as to whether the isolated information is the result of an apparent attempt to deceive through omission or embellishment.


The final step allows the interviewer to use cross-examination to probe the further filtered contents for the most significant key topics that triggered to largest response from the subject as demonstrated by the subject’s reactions of Anger, Depression, Denial, and Bargaining and ultimately leading the possibly deceptive subject to compliance or admission and confession.


A key tool of Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation® is the information recovery aspect of the narrative interview.  The narrative process is however far more valuable than just a tool to obtain an initial statement.  Used as a multi-level filtering tool it will help the interviewer identify the main issues and marshal all his efforts to address those issues in order to achieve his final objective – “The Truth.”

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