The Impact of Question Type and Empathy on Police Interviews with Suspects of Homicide, Filicide and Child Sexual Abuse

Gavin Oxburgh, James Ost, Paul Morris, Julie Cherryman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Conducting interviews with “high-stake” offenders, especially those accused of murder and sexual offences, represents a complex and emotive area of work for police officers. Using an English sample of 59 actual police interviews, the effects of empathy and question type on the amount of investigation-relevant information obtained from interviews with suspects of child murder, child sex offences and adult murder were analysed and compared. No direct effects of empathy on the amount of information elicited were found. However, in interviews classified as empathic, interviewers asked significantly more appropriate questions than they did in interviews classified as non-empathic, and significantly more items of information were elicited from appropriate questions. There was a significant effect of offence type on the number of inappropriate, questions asked, with significantly more inappropriate questions being asked in interviews with suspects of child sex offences than in interviews with suspects of child or adult murder.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)904-917
Number of pages14
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
Volume21
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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