University of Twente Student Theses


How Humanistic and Accusatory Interview Styles Affect Information Yield in Simulated Investigative Interviews With Suspects

Versteegh, Miranda L. J. (2021) How Humanistic and Accusatory Interview Styles Affect Information Yield in Simulated Investigative Interviews With Suspects.

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Abstract:The most effective approach to gain the largest amount of information from suspects is still researched and debated. In this study, an experiment was conducted in order to test the humanistic and accusatory interview styles during a police interview. The humanistic approach has the goal of gaining as much information as possible from suspects. Accusatory approaches have the main goal of eliciting a confession from a suspect. The main focus of this study was to find out which interview style results in the largest information yield from suspects. Furthermore, rapport was investigated, as well as perceived risk, anxiety, and perceived performance. These variables were included to research the reasons why information yield might be affected by the interview style. Finally, we also compare the difference between guilty and non-guilty suspects to see whether interview style has a different effect depending on suspect guilt. To test the hypothesis that the humanistic style would result in a larger information yield compared to the accusatory style, mock police interviews were conducted. Two types of vignettes were given to participants. One type of vignette was for guilty suspects, and the other type for non-guilty suspects. Participants were randomly divided over four conditions. Participants could either receive the guilty, or the non-guilty vignette. Furthermore, participants could be interviewed by either the humanistic or the accusatory style. After the interview, different questionnaires regarding rapport, perceived risk, anxiety, and perceived performance were filled in by the participants. The results show a difference in the information yield for guilty and non-guilty participants depending on interview style. Guilty participants gave more unscripted details in the accusatory style. In contrast, non-guilty participants gave more scripted details in the humanistic style. The findings show that accusatory interviews help increase information yield from guilty participants. Humanistic interviews have been shown to increase information yield from innocent suspects. It seems that innocent suspects try to provide as much information as possible, but do not embellish their accounts as much as guilty participants. Accusatory interviews make guilty suspects feel that giving answers was required, even if it means providing inaccurate details. Humanistic interviews facilitate accurate disclosure from innocent suspects. No evidence was found for the proposed mechanisms of rapport, perceived risk, and anxiety.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:70 social sciences in general, 77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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