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Eliciting Information from People Who Pose a Threat: Counter-Interview Strategies Examined

Journal article
Authors Renate Geurts
Karl Ask
Pär-Anders Granhag
Aldert Vrij
Published in Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Volume 6
Issue 2
Pages 158-166
ISSN 2211-3681
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 158-166
Language en
Keywords Threat assessment; Information elicitation; Counter-interview strategy; Investigative interviewing; True intent
Subject categories Applied Psychology


Threat managers—who aim to identify potential danger—typically collect information from sources around persons who pose a threat rather than questioning the threateners themselves. To elicit valuable information from threateners, it is important to understand the strategies they use to withstand interviews (i.e., counter-interview strategies). In the experiment, participants (N = 179) communicated a threat that they intended to actualize (actualizers) or not (bluffers), and were subsequently questioned about the threat using an interview protocol intended to communicate high or low suspicion. The findings showed that threatening required self-regulation. Participants were forthcoming, yet strategic and adaptive to the targets’ response. Actualizers provided fewer details on how to implement the threat than did bluffers, and, when subjected to follow-up questions bluffers increased the information provision more than did actualizers. Knowledge on counter-interview strategies of threateners may contribute to the development of interview protocols that can be used to assess risk for violence.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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