Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Intelligence-gathering, Interrogation, HUMINT, Army Field Manual
Date of Defense
It is often necessary to interrogate sources of information when threats to national security (e.g., impending terror attack) are present. However, the overwhelming majority of research focuses on the interrogation of criminal suspects despite the arguably greater consequences of the former context, known as Human Intelligence (HUMINT) collection. The present study is the first to examine a highly successful approach to collecting information from sources of human intelligence (HUMINT)- the Scharff Technique.- within a novel and highly realistic paradigm. Participants were recruited for a study on group interaction. Every group contained a study confederate posing as a participant who gave a series of scripted details indicating they had plans to attend an ‘event.’ During a group discussion the experimenter told participants that a threat was written on one of the study forms and that each participant would need to speak to a supervisor from the research team to find out which participant had made the threat (the confederate’s scripted lines implicated him/her as the target individual). Participants were interrogated using one of two interrogation approaches recommended by the U.S. government (Direct Approach; File and Dossier Approach)(Army Field Manual, 2-22.3) or a similar technique used in previous research (the Scharff Technique). Participants interrogated using the Scharff Technique viewed the interrogator as significantly more knowledgeable and sources in this condition contributed more new information over the course of the interview. However, participants in the Scharff Technique condition reported less difficulty in determining interrogator information objectives. Participants across conditions were inaccurate in their estimates of their own information contributions, tending to overestimate the number of details they had given, regardless of Interrogation Approach. Results of the current study indicate that the success of an interrogation approach in given situation is likely goal-dependent. The Scharff technique may be effective in contexts where the appearance of high interrogator knowledgeability is of central importance but may be unnecessarily time-consuming when it is not.
Previously Published In
Shaffer, Sarah A., "A Novel Approach to Studying Human Intelligence-Gathering: Employing a Realistic Paradigm for the Study of Elicitation Approaches" (2020). FIU Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4482.
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