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Are you talking to me? Influencing behaviour and culture in police interviews

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This study examines the relationship between two types of influencing behaviour in police interviews (being kind and rational persuasion) and three types of interview effectiveness, i.e. the suspects' willingness to give a statement, their estimation of the quality of the relationship with the detective, and suspects' admission. We expected that being kind and rational persuasion (arguments referring to logic and rationality) would have a different effect on suspects from cultures that tend to be direct and content-oriented (low-context cultures) versus cultures in which communication is more indirect and context orientated (high-context cultures). To examine this, experienced police detectives interviewed mock theft suspects from low-context (n=25) and high-context (n=27) cultures. As predicted, and particularly for high-context suspects, being kind in terms of rewarding and offering was positively related to the perceived quality of the relationship of the suspect, while being kind in terms of active listening behaviour was positively related to admissions. Furthermore, and as expected, there was a positive relationship between rational persuasion of the police detective and admissions for low-context suspects, but also a negative relationship between rational persuasion and admissions for high-context suspects.
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Keywords: communication; culture; detective strategies; influencing behaviour; investigative interviewing; low-context/high-context

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, Department of Psyhcology and Communication of Risk and Health, University of Twente, Enschede, AE, The Netherlands

Publication date: 2009-09-01

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