In the Americas and much of the world, suspects in criminal activity are subjected to confession-oriented interrogations. The use of these confession-oriented interrogation techniques is often predicated by the use, and often misuse, of credibility assessment techniques that can have high error rates. Moreover, the confession-oriented techniques are associated with the creation of false memory and/or false confessions. This On Demand course presents a non-coercive, evidence-based practice approach to obtaining information that is generalizable not only to forensic witnesses and suspects, but to any situation where it is important to obtain information from another person. The course reviews the basic scientific research on deception and deception detection, with a focus on dispelling myths often held by practitioners, while also indicating valid approaches to assessing credibility. A basic and highly-generalizable, evidence-based approach to interviewing is presented that is designed to be non-coercive and to protect against false memory creation and false confessions.
The approach to this course stresses the commonalities of all good interviews in forensic, industrial, and clinical settings. Estimator and System variables of the interview setting are discussed, with a focus on the System variables associated with interviewing and in minimizing the possible biasing effects of interviewer behavior. In all settings, the goal to is to produce a complete and unbiased free narrative from the interviewee. We discuss exciting new research on the role of the physical setting in priming the interviewee to be forthcoming. Course participants are introduced to the current science on eyewitness memory with a focus on the impact of interviewing techniques on accuracy and quantity of what is actually recalled. We also discuss the role of interviewers in creating false memories and false confessions and how our approach avoids those problems. In addition, we provide instruction specifically for forensic and law enforcement professionals on how to prepare for an interview, build initial rapport, adjust the interview for the specific needs of the interviewee, and properly close the interview.
The course instruction concludes with an introduction to the Strategic Use of Evidence (SUE) technique. SUE is a technique that helps determine whether a suspect who denies involvement in a crime is guilty (lying) or innocent (telling the truth). In SUE, evidence known to the interviewer is strategically withheld until the interviewee has given a complete free narrative statement. Interviewers then ask systematic questions pertaining to the known evidence in a manner that will force the lying suspect to “paint themselves into a corner” while giving the innocent suspect the opportunity to provide a statement that explains the evidence. The scientific basis of SUE is provided and the research validating its use is discussed.
Charles R. Honts, PhD, is Professor of Psychological Science at Boise State University. Professor Honts continues a 37-year research program that focuses on applying psychological science to real world problems. He is internationally recognized as one of the world’s top experts on credibility assessment, having received The Harry Detwiler Award for contributions to the polygraph profession in Latin America and The John E. Reid Memorial Award for distinguished achievements in polygraph research, teaching or writing. Professor Honts has published and/or presented more than 350 scientific papers and has also published and given expert testimony in the areas of interrogation and false confession, eyewitness identification, and the forensic interviewing of children. In addition, he is frequently invited to lecture at domestic and international venues and has appeared in courts around the world as an expert witness more than 120 times. Professor Honts’s current research is focused on three areas: 1) Improving the standardization and criterion validity of the comparison question test for psychophysiological deception detection, 2) Deception detection with oculomotor measures, and 3) Interrogation, confession and false confession phenomena in real world contexts. Professor Honts was the President of the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association for the 2005-2006 term.
Mark Handler is a credibility assessment expert and lecturer and former US Naval Nuclear Engineering Technician and law enforcement officer and polygraph examiner. Mr. Handler has authored or co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles relating to credibility assessment. He has presented credibility assessment content nationally and internationally on behalf of local, state, federal, and international government entities. He is also the Director of Professional Services for Converus, Inc., based in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Maria Hartwig, PhD, completed her graduate training in her native Sweden, where she conducted empirical research on social perception and judgment in legal settings. In 2006, she joined the faculty of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she is now Professor of Psychology. She has published research on the psychology of deception and its detection and on interview and interrogation techniques using a broad sample of lay people, legal professionals and prison inmates. Dr. Hartwig has also carried out extensive training of legal professionals, including prosecutors, judges, police detectives, and intelligence and military officers. She is also an editorial board member of Law and Human Behavior and Legal and Criminological Psychology. In 2008, Dr. Hartwig received an Early Career Award from the European Association for Psychology and Law, and in 2012, she received the Saleem Shah Award for Early Career Excellence in Psychology and Law from the American Psychology-Law Society and the American Academy of Forensic Psychology.
This training is designed to help you:
- Describe the basic research on deception, deception detection, eyewitness memory, false memory, and evidence-based interviewing practices
- Describe the role that interviewers can play in the creation of false memory and false confessions and how to avoid creating false memories and false confessions
- Properly prepare for and conduct an investigative interview by appreciating the barriers to disclosure while maximizing non-coercive techniques to educing valid information
- Describe and understand the principles behind the SUE technique
- Identify information/evidence from a case file that can be used strategically, prepare and use a line of strategic questions from that information and finally to disclose the evidence in a strategic manner at the end of the interview