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The Efficacy of Rapport-Based Techniques for Minimising Counter-Interrogation Tactics Amongst a Field Sample of Terrorists.

By Alison, Laurence,Alison, Emily,Noone, Geraldine,Elntib, Stamatis,Waring, Sara,Christiansen, Paul

Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, Vol 20(4), Nov 2014, 421-430


The impact of rapport-based interview techniques on suspect use of counter-interrogation tactics (CITs) was examined in an operational field sample of 181 police interrogations with international (Al-Qaeda and Al-Qaeda-inspired), paramilitary, and right-wing terrorists. The observing rapport-based interpersonal techniques (ORBIT) framework was used to code rapport-based interrogator skills along 2 dimensions: motivational interviewing skills and interpersonal competence (use of adaptive interviewing behaviors and absence of maladaptive interviewing behaviors). Two components of suspect behavior were measured using the ORBIT tool: interpersonal behavior and counter-interrogation techniques (passive, verbal, passive verbal, no-comment, and retraction). Structural equation modeling revealed that adaptive interviewing was directly associated with decreases in passive CITs but, counter to expectations, increased the prevalence of passive verbal responding. Interrogator use of motivational-interviewing-consistent skills was directly associated with improved adaptive interviewing; reduced maladaptive interviewing; and decreases in passive, verbal, and no-comment CITs, but was associated with higher rates of retraction. Motivational interviewing skills also had a significant indirect effect on reducing passive and increasing passive verbal CITs through its indirect effect on adaptive interviewing. Overall, findings indicate that adopting an adaptive rapport-based interrogation style in which suspects are treated with respect, dignity, and integrity is an effective approach for reducing suspects’ use of CITs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved).