Developing an Evidence-Based Perspective on Interrogation: A Review of the U.S. Government’s High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group Research Program

Christian A. Meissner, Frances Surmon-Böhr, Simon Oleszkiewicz, Laurence Alison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Interrogation practices in the United States have been roundly criticized both for their accusatorial ethos, at times leading to false confessions by the innocent, and for a history of applying physical and psychological coercion in law enforcement, military, and intelligence contexts. Despite decades of psychological research demonstrating the failures of such approaches and despite recent positive advances in countries such as the United Kingdom moving to an information-gathering framework, little change has occurred in the training or practice of U.S. interrogation professionals over the past 50 years. This article describes recent historical events that have led to the development of the first unclassified, government-funded research program on the science of interviewing and interrogation. Since 2010, the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) research program has identified effective approaches for developing cooperation and rapport, eliciting information, challenging inconsistencies by presenting evidence or information strategically, and assessing credibility using cognitive cues and strategic questioning tactics. The program has also examined the influence of culture and language, and has facilitated the translation of research from the laboratory to the field. In this context, we review the significant contributions of psychologists to understanding and developing ethical, legal, and effective interrogation practices, and we describe important future directions for research on investigative interviewing and interrogation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-457
JournalPsychology, Public Policy, and Law
Volume23
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

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