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Eliciting information from small cells of sources

Journal article
Authors Pär-Anders Granhag
Simon Oleszkiewicz
Steven Kleinman
Published in Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism
Volume 11
Issue 2
Pages 143-162
ISSN 1833-5330
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 143-162
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1080/18335330.2016.12...
Keywords The Scharff technique, Cells of sources, information elicitation, Human intelligence gathering
Subject categories Psychology

Abstract

In past research, the Scharff technique has consistently outperformed different comparison techniques with respect to the elicitation of human intelligence. This study extends previous work by examining the efficacy of the Scharff technique applied to small cells of sources. The sources worked in triads (N = 180), and were given information about a planned terrorist attack. They were then interviewed individually with either the Scharff technique (conceptualised as five tactics) or the Direct Approach (open and direct questions). The two techniques resulted in an equal amount of new information. As predicted, the sources in the Scharff condition underestimated, whereas the sources in the Direct Approach condition overestimated, their own contribution of new information. Furthermore, the Scharff tactics resulted in the sources overestimating the amount of information revealed by their fellow group members, whereas this was not the case in the Direct Approach. The paper advances the knowledge on elicitation techniques on several accounts: with respect to the context (focusing on small cells of sources), measures of efficacy (introducing a new dependent measure) and tactics (introducing novel context-dependent tactics). The outcome of the study marks the Scharff technique as a promising technique for eliciting information in intelligence settings.

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