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

Journal article
Authors Lennart May
Pär-Anders Granhag
Simon Oleszkiewicz
Published in Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling
Volume 11
Issue 2
Pages 136-150
ISSN 1544-4759
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 136-150
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1002/jip.1412
Keywords human intelligence gathering, information elicitation, interrogation, the Scharff-technique, confirmation/disconfirmation-tactic
Subject categories Psychology

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. Copyright (c) 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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