Talking heads : interviewing suspects from a cultural perspective

K. Beune

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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Although the literature on the interviewing of suspects has increased over the past decade, research on the use and effectiveness of police strategies and their boundary conditions is very rare. The present dissertation aims to fill this void by identifying behaviors that appeal to and persuade suspects to talk (i.e., influencing behavior), focusing on the effects of such behaviors and their dependency on cultural context (low-context vs. high-context). In doing so, we depart from a theoretical framework for conceptualizing police officers communication, the so called the Table of Ten. Our central proposition is that effective influencing is intertwined with suspects’ cultural backgrounds, and therefore, the true impact of such behavior needs to be examined from a cultural perspective. This proposition is examined in three empirical studies. Together, the results support our prediction that police officers use interpersonal influencing to a large extent. In addition, we were able to demonstrate that the impact of their behavior is dependent on the cultural background of the suspect. That is, more indirect, relationship-oriented behavior (i.e., being kind) was found to be particularly effective when interviewing suspects from high-context cultures, while more direct, content-oriented behavior (i.e., rational arguments) was particularly effective when interviewing low-context suspects. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the effect of more firm behavior (i.e., intimidation) is highly dependent upon the context in which it is presented; i.e., its effectiveness depends on whether it matches suspects’ cultural framework or what specific type of intimidation is used.
Original languageUndefined
  • van Oudenhoven-Van der Zee, K.I., Supervisor, External person
  • Spence, E.H., Supervisor
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs9789036529020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2009


  • IR-67906

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