Rules of Interrogation
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Example | Discussion | See also
Here are ten 'rules of the game' described by Walton, (2003), by which an
interrogation might take place. The rules cover both the interrogator (the
proponent) and the person being interrogated (the respondent).
- The respondent needs to take care not to inadvertently say something
that might give out the information he wants to conceal, or allow the proponent
to infer it.
- The proponent may coerce the respondent to reveal information through
threats or sanctions, but only by the means allowed.
- The proponent needs to pose questions to the respondent, and these
questions can, and often should be, leading, loaded and deceptive.
- The respondent should answer in formulations that are vague,
ambiguous, misleading or confusing, if that will help serve his ends.
- The proponent should probe critically into the respondent’s prior
replies, and try to use them to extract information.
- The respondent should take care to try to be consistent in his
replies and in the commitments that can be inferred from them.
- If the proponent finds inconsistencies in the respondent’s
commitments, or implausible statements, or statements that are inconsistent with
information from other sources, she should ask questions that critically examine
- If the proponent extracts the information she wants from the
respondent, then she has achieved her goal and the dialogue concludes in her
- If the proponent terminates the interrogation without getting the
information she wants, and the respondent preserves his interests, the dialogue
concludes in the respondent’s favor.
- The two parties can use any arguments, even ones considered
irrelevant or fallacious from the viewpoint of a critical discussion, to achieve
This is a normative set of rules, thus identifying a what 'should' happen
rather than what happens in every case.
It is based on an interrogation context in which the respondent does not want
to give the information that the interrogator is seeking.
Four rules for interrogators, Rules for respondents
Walton, D. (2003). The interrogation as a type of dialogue, Journal of
Pragmatics 35, 1771–1802