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Techniques Interrogation > Over-accusing

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



Accuse them of more than they might actually have done and more than you believe actually happened. This can include things that other people did or things that simply did not happen at all.

Ensure the things you accuse them of are credible. A simple method is to exaggerate what already happened, making damage worse, value greater, etc. You can also accuse them of doing wrong elsewhere so they have to admit where they actually were.

Watch body language for surprise, fear, annoyance, delight or other indication that they know what really happened. Also allow time for them to correct you.


A plate has been broken in the house. The parent, with a stern expression, tells the child that two plates have mysteriously been broken. The child replies that they only broke one.

A person is arrested on suspicion of burglary. When they are told that valuable jewels were stolen (which is not true), a look of surprise flashes momentarily across their face, even though they still deny the crime. The interrogator asks them how they know that there were no jewels involved.

A woman tells her husband she saw him with Jane last night. He says actually it was Sarah. He then wishes he hadn't mentioned this.


When you accuse a person of something that did not happen, if they are innocent, they will be just as unhappy whether what you tell them is true or not. If they are guilty, being accused can have several effects, any of which may indicate guilt.

  • A look of annoyance as they feel you are trying to get them into deeper trouble than they deserve.
  • A look of fear as they think they are being stitched up.
  • A brief smile where they feel pleased that you seem to have got your facts wrong.
  • Correcting you, telling you that your exaggeration did not happen or is otherwise untrue.
  • Admitting to what they actually did (and denying your extension of this).

This can be particularly useful when their claimed position is that they did not know what happened, that they were not there, and so on.

See also

Amplification principle, Using Body Language


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