Eliciting Intelligence Using the Scharff-Technique: Closing in on the Confirmation/Disconfirmation-Tactic

Lennart May (Corresponding Author), Pär Anders Granhag, Simon Oleszkiewicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The current study examined interview techniques aimed at eliciting intelligence from human sources. We compared two versions of the Scharff-technique to the Direct Approach (a combination of open and direct questions). The Scharff conditions, conceptualised into four tactics, differed only with respect to the ‘confirmation/disconfirmation-tactic’. The participants (N = 90) received background information and took the role as a source in a phone interview. They were instructed to strike a balance between not revealing too little and too much information. As predicted, the Scharff-technique resulted in more new information than the Direct Approach. Importantly, the sources interviewed by the Scharff-technique perceived that they had revealed less new information than they objectively did, whereas the sources interviewed by the Direct Approach perceived that they had revealed more new information than they objectively did. Furthermore, the interviewer’s information objectives were better masked with the confirmation-tactic than with the disconfirmation-tactic. The results highlight the Scharff-technique as a promising human intelligence gathering technique.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-150
JournalJournal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Human intelligence gathering
  • Information elicitation
  • Interrogation
  • The Scharff technique
  • Confirmation/disconfiermation tactic
  • n/a OA procedure

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