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Confessions

Which Interview Technique Works Best?

by Stan B. Walters, CSP
“The Lie Guy®”

One question I’m frequently asked is which interview and interrogation technique works the best. The best answer I can give is whichever technique you used when the subject confessed. Although that answer may sound vague the reality is that the response is very accurate. There is no uniform method or technique that will be successful in every interview situation. As we discussed in the June issue, the successful interviewer is the one who learns how to adapt to the unique personality and behavior characteristics of the subject that happen to be interviewing.

To be a little more specific, we can refer to several scientific studies that have observed, documented and analyzed several hundred investigative interviews. The findings of these observational studies are quite interesting in that they report that there are interview and interrogation tactics that appear to regularly be most successful. In fact four approaches seem to consistently productive:

1. Appealing to the subject’s conscience.
2. Identifying contradictions in the subject’s story.
3. Use of praise or flattery.
4. Offering moral justification and / or psychological excuses.

It is very interesting to note that these four approaches appear to coincide very well with the four dominant personality type interviews that we use in Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation®.

The next time you are preparing for an interview or interrogation, mentally create four separate dialogues you can have with your subject using each of these four approaches. Once in the interview room, make an assessment of the most likely personality type of the subject you are interviewing and use one of the four dialogues most appropriate. You should find you’ll get positive results must faster and have a higher admission and even confession rate.

Why Do Subjects Confess?

by Stan B. Walters, CSP
“The Lie Guy®”

During any investigative interview, the objective is to always get the truth whether by voluntary cooperation, admission or confession. Unfortunately what occasionally will happen during any interview however is the fact finder will lose sight of the reason why a subject chooses to provide a confession. To merely say that all people just want to confess is a far to simplistic and naïve a conclusion. Neither does the subject confess because the interviewer “wants” them to nor does the subject confess for the reasons the interview believes they should. The very same reasons that subjects choose to lie may in reality be the very same reasons the subjects decide to cooperate, inculpate and even confess.

Whatever the personality type the subject may possess along with their specific thinking or reasoning process, a subject will only acknowledge reality when they feel it is to their benefit to do so. The subject may be most motivated by what they perceive is significant punishment should they not confess. In their minds the evidence may have been presented in such a compelling fashion and form that to not acknowledge reality creates greater emotional or cognitive stress than to continue to lie. In addition, the fact that other family members, friends, and associates will also draw the same conclusions about the truth and their continuing denial in the face of reality can be overwhelmingly negative.

If a person will deceive in order to gain some form of reward can also be the exact same reason the person chooses to give in to the mounting evidence of reality. At the heart of this confession as well as the previous form, the subject does it for the preservation of his or her ego. The reward in the case may something they feel they will get in return. Perhaps they feel they gain power by telling the truth. Maybe their goal is to obtain notoriety and respect in some form because they acknowledged their actions as is the case in some acts of terrorism. By confessing the subject feels they have actually taken control of the events swirling around and maybe eventually what will happen to them in the form of any punishment.

Listening to the subject’s defense of their actions or the form by which they create their denials may be the key to determining what would be the best approach to move the subject to confession. The best of the interviewers learn how to put they thoughts, feelings, and prejudices aside and listen to and adopt those of their subjects. This same approach will serve as a tool to help the interviewer determine the reasoning for which a subject will choose to confess.