Cognitive Interviewing & Investigative Statement Analysis
- Most people aren’t naturally good interviewers
- It takes training and practice…
- We are conditioned to ask “closed” questions
- Insurance adjuster question ‘lists’…
This carries over into investigative interviews; for instance with questions about a car theft:
- “Where did you park?” “Do you usually park there?” “Were there other cars around?” “Were the keys in the car?” “Was the car locked?”
We have to ask BETTER questions to effectively gather and assess information from people.
- The questions we ask should help someone who is truthful to probe their memory and provide greater detail of information
- They should also increase the cognitive load of an individual who is being deceptive
- The cognitive load is the mental effort it takes to process and communicate information
- Lying is cognitively demanding, especially if the questioning process is structured properly
- To be effective, we have to understand memory and the psychology of deception
- Our questions should be “open”, especially initially, allowing the individual to provide an uninterrupted account of the incident
- Their response should be the basis of follow-up questions, not a check-off sheet
- This method of probing their response rather than transitioning to another question will help the individual recall information more effectively from their memory
- Truthful people will answer your questions and provide information from their memory.
- Deceptive people will enter the interview with a “script” of what they plan on telling you.
- Deceptive people think of what to say…
- Truthful people think of what happened…
Modified Cognitive Interview:
The Modified Cognitive Interview utilizes key principles of the Cognitive Interview, maximizes the strengths of memory and exploits the psychology of deceptive behavior
The MCI Questioning Process:
- Tell me everything that happened...
- With that in mind…sensory info…
- With that in mind, reverse recall…
Truthful people rely on their memory to answer your questions. These three questions probe their memory through open questions and forces concentration, causing them to think deeper about the incident.
Deceptive people do not rely on their memory to answer your questions but enter the interview with a “script” which they plan to tell you. They provide this script up front in the interview making this process (especially reverse recall) difficult to do.
Ask yourself; did I learn any new information with each progressive question? If so, it is more likely coming from memory.
If the story was fabricated, the incident does not reside in their memory, only the script does, which they already fully told you. Each progressive question is not likely to provide any new information since there is nothing new to tell you. They want to keep it simple and stick to the “script”
- Being trained in Cognitive Interviewing as well as Modified Cognitive Interview will help to extract greater detail from legitimate victims and help to expose potential fabricated claims
Investigative Statement Analysis
- Ask open questions and listen
- Have them write out their own written statement
Some benefits of Investigative Statement Analysis include identifying:
- Unnecessary sensitivity surrounding specific issues within the statement
- Lack of commitment to what the individual is asserting
- Indicators of deception
- Indicators of truthfulness
- Missing information and indicators of concealment
Watch pronouns and where they change or where they disappear from their language
- I, me, my, we, she…etc…
- Look for “negation”, or what “didn’t happen”
- “I didn’t give him no money”, “I don’t remember where I went after that”, etc…
- Balance within statements
- Sensitivity, justifications for actions, etc
*NOTE: The above information sheet was handed out during a training I did for NICB recently. Included in the training were several statements that the attendees worked on which aren't avaliable for this post, but I believe the information here will still be of value to you!)