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On eliciting intelligence from human sources: Contextualizing the Scharff-Technique

Journal article
Authors Simon Oleszkiewicz
Pär-Anders Granhag
Steven Kleinman
Published in Applied Cognitive Psychology
Volume 28
Issue 6
ISSN 0888-4080
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords The Scharff-technique, human intelligence gathering, information elicitation
Subject categories Psychology

Abstract

Three techniques for eliciting intelligence from human sources were examined. Two versions of the Scharff-technique (conceptualized as four tactics) were compared against the Direct Approach (open and direct questions). The Scharff confirmation technique used correct claims to elicit information, and the Scharff disconfirmation/confirmation technique used a mix of correct and incorrect claims. The participants (N= 119) took the role of ‘sources’ holding information about a terrorist attack and tried not to reveal too much or too little information during an interview. The Scharff confirmation resulted in more new information than the Scharff disconfirmation/confirmation and the Direct Approach. The sources in the Scharff conditions had a more difficult time reading the interviewer’s information objectives. The sources in the Scharff conditions underestimated, whereas sources in the Direct Approach overestimated, how much new information they revealed. The study advances previous work and shows that the Scharff-technique is a promising intelligence gathering technique.

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