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Silent Supporter

 

Techniques Interrogation > Silent Supporter

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Have somebody else in the room, taking notes or just observing, who does not directly interact with the subject. Get that person to smile and send other positive non-verbal signals to the subject.

If the subject starts to give more detail after this silent encouragement, then they are more likely to be telling the truth, whereas liars are more likely to remain guarded and consequently less likely to open up.

Example

A suspect is being interviewed by a police officer about where they were on a particular night. Another officer who is acting as an observer gently nods and smiles. The subject visibly relaxes and adds more detail to their story. This indicates the subject seems to be telling the truth. Another subject does not react, continuing to sit back in their chair with legs crossed. More attention to this subject brings out the truth of their guilt.

Discussion

Mann et al (2013), in a truth-or-lies interview experiment, found that when a silent note-taker acted in a more friendly way, smiling, nodding etc. then truthful subjects would open up more and give more detail, while liars would not be encouraged in this way as they are sustain their wary and cautious approach.

This seems a variant on good cop, bad cop, but in a more subtle form which is far less likely to be noticed by subjects. This makes it a useful method where more traditional methods would be spotted and counteracted by many subjects.

Note that this method does not result in a confession or or add further information from the subject, but at least it helps eliminate people from a wider range of suspects.

See also

Good Cop, Bad Cop

 

Mann, S., Vrij, A, Shaw, D.J., Leal, S., Ewens, S., Hillman, J., Granhag, P.A. and Fisher, R.P. (2013). Two heads are better than one? How to effectively use two interviewers to elicit cues to deception. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 18, 2, 324–340.

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