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Detecting Guilt Presumption in a Police-Suspect Interview: An Evaluation of the Questions in a Dutch Murder Case

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nicole Adams-QuackenbushORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by International Investigative Interviewing Research Group, 2019.

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Controlled studies have demonstrated that guilt-presumptive questions usually accompany interviewer guilt bias and accusatory behaviours towards a suspect. When evaluating policesuspect interviews, however, conventional methods primarily focus on the appropriateness of questions, and guilt-presumption is not featured as a questioning strategy. Instead, guiltpresumptive utterances are aggregated with other types of inappropriate opinion statements. There is often more happening within an interview than is immediately identifiable by simply focusing on question types. Examining the interactivity and behaviours that lead to accusations can reveal subtleties that have a profound influence on the flow and outcome of the interview. To demonstrate this, we analysed six interviews from a single Dutch murder investigation for guilt-presumptive language (accusations and insinuations of guilt) and question appropriateness. We then analysed the police-suspect interactions within the interview that occurred prior to, and immediately after the guilt-presumptive language was used. The findings demonstrated that accusations prompted suspect denials, facilitated a drastic decline in suspect cooperation, and impeded the ability for interviewers to gain investigation relevant information (IRI). We argue that more applied research on guilt-presumptive language is needed in the investigative interviewing literature, particularly in the context of biased decision-making regarding questioning strategies.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Adams-Quackenbush NM, Horselenberg R, Tomas F, van Koppen P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Investigative Interviewing: Research and Practice

Year: 2019

Volume: 10

Issue: 1

Pages: 37-60

Print publication date: 01/08/2019

Online publication date: 01/08/2019

Acceptance date: 28/09/2018

Date deposited: 24/08/2020

ISSN (print): 2227-7420

ISSN (electronic): 2227-7439

Publisher: International Investigative Interviewing Research Group