The Effectiveness of Army Field Manual Interrogation Approaches for Educing Information and Building Rapport

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Abstract

In 2016, the U.S. Congress mandated that federal intelligence interrogators adhere to the methods of the U.S. Army Field Manual FM 2–22.3 (AFM) and that the manual be revised based upon empirically based evaluations of the interrogation methods’ effectiveness with interviewees motivated to withhold information. In the present study, 120 participants took part in a testing situation in which half were induced to cheat. All participants were then accused of cheating and interrogated with either (a) a combination of AFM interrogation approaches that focused on the potential benefits of cooperation with the interviewer (cooperation-focused condition), or (b) a combination of AFM approaches that focused on the potential risks of withholding information (withholding-focused condition). Participants who cheated on the test were significantly more likely to admit their wrongdoing and to provide additional relevant information when interrogated with the withholding-focused approaches than when questioned with the cooperation-focused approaches. The “we know all” AFM approach was especially effective for eliciting truthful admission-related details. Participants reported high rapport with the interrogator in both the cooperation-focused and withholding-focused conditions. These findings indicate that the we-know-all approach can be effective for maintaining rapport and eliciting accurate information in brief interrogations.

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