Psychological Perspectives on Interrogation.

“Simulated drowning (waterboarding) leading to vomiting, convulsions, and unconsciousness; debilitating stress positions and prolonged standing for 72 hours; physical abuse, mock executions, and threats to one’s family; sleep deprivation, physical isolation, constant noise, and uncomfortably cold temperatures for 180 hours. In 2014, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program brought to light details of such detainee abuse.”

“Proponents of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ in the United States have claimed that such methods are necessary for obtaining information from uncooperative terrorism subjects. In the present article, we offer an informed, academic perspective on such claims. Psychological theory and research shows that harsh interrogation methods are ineffective. First, they are likely to increase resistance by the subject rather than facilitate cooperation. Second, the threatening and adversarial nature of harsh interrogation is often inimical to the goal of facilitating the retrieval of information from memory, and therefore reduces the likelihood that a subject will provide reports that are extensive, detailed, and accurate. Third, harsh interrogation methods make lie detection difficult. Analyzing speech content and eliciting verifiable details are the most reliable cues to assessing credibility; however, to elicit such cues subjects must be encouraged to provide extensive narratives, something that does not occur in harsh interrogations. Evidence is accumulating for the effectiveness of rapport-based, information-gathering approaches as an alternative to harsh interrogations. Such approaches promote cooperation, enhance recall of relevant and reliable information, and facilitate assessments of credibility. Given the available evidence that torture is ineffective, why might some laypersons, policy makers, and interrogation personnel support the use of torture? We conclude our review by offering a psychological perspective on this important question.”

Unreserved acknowledgements and thanks to Aldert Vrij, Christian A. Meissner, Ronald P. Fisher, Saul M. Kassin, Andy Morgan III, and Steven M. Kleinman for this paper which is published in full here:

Psychological Perspectives on Interrogation

Intersol unreservedly support ‘fact-finding’ investigative interviewing; torture having no place if the decision maker wishes to rely on detailed, accurate, and reliable information and/or intelligence. Our team underwent transformational change from a world of torture and interrogation in the UK and are world leaders in developing and applying Conversation Management, proudly sponsoring the IIIRG and its annual conference in Monteray in July. We’d be delighted to explain more and illustrate just why we add real value to your organisation. Our gratitude to all that continue such vital research.

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