Unanticipated questions can yield unanticipated outcomes in investigative interviews

Parkhouse, Thomas and Ormerod, Tom (2018) Unanticipated questions can yield unanticipated outcomes in investigative interviews. PLoS ONE, 13 (12). e0208751. ISSN 1932-6203

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Asking unanticipated questions in investigative interviews can elicit differences in the verbal behaviour of truth-tellers and liars: When faced with unanticipated questions, liars give less detailed and consistent responses than truth-tellers. Do such differences in verbal behaviour lead to an improvement in the accuracy of interviewers’ veracity judgements? Two empirical studies evaluated the efficacy of the unanticipated questions technique. Experiment 1 compared two types of unanticipated questions (questions regarding the planning of a task and questions regarding the specific spatial and temporal details associated with the task), assessing the veracity judgements of interviewers and verbal content of interviewees’ responses. Experiment 2 assessed veracity judgements of independent observers. Overall, the results provide little support for the technique. For interviewers, unanticipated questions failed to improve veracity judgement accuracy above chance. Reality monitoring analysis revealed qualitatively distinct information in the responses to the two unanticipated question types, though little distinction between the responses of truth-tellers and liars. Accuracy for observers was greater when judging transcripts of unanticipated questions, and this effect was stronger for spatial and temporal questions than planning questions. The benefits of unanticipated questioning appear limited to post-interview situations. Furthermore, the type of unanticipated question affects both the type of information gathered and the ability to detect deceit.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
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Depositing User: Sanjeedah Choudhury
Date Deposited: 03 Jan 2019 17:01
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 13:31
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/81123

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