Friday, June 1, 2018


The following is an excerpt from the latest CREST Security Review (Issue 8). You'll see how from the snippet below, the material is directly applicable to those working in crisis situations be it as as law enforcement negotiator, crisis intervention specialist, crisis counselor or another type of role. 

Our research is based on the examination of thousands of hours of real police interrogations with high value targets. What seemed to work best was quite different from some techniques such as pre-suasion (see Robert Cialdini and Steve Martin on page 4 in this issue) and had far more in common with psychologists such as Carl Rogers, William Miller and Stephen Rollnick who take a humanistic approach, which empahsises empathy and the good in human behaviour. This approach is client-centered and requires that the client takes an active role in their own treatment. This approach also requies that the interviewer in the interactions shows ‘unconditional positive regard’, which entails accepting others without judgment or evaluation.

These therapeutic approaches have long been established as particularly effective means by which to encourage behavioural change, such as violence reduction, more healthy lifestyles and a reduction or abstinence from alcohol or drugs. However, when we observed similar approaches used by interviewers, even though not trained in any of these methods, the outcomes included: (i) a reduction in aggressive and resistant detainee behaviours; (ii) an increase in detainee engagement and willingness to talk and; (iii) the production of more information, intelligence and evidence... 

We found that showing empathy and positive regard resulted in both more engagement from the detainee and more information. Although rare, it also was also more likely to generate admissions of guilt. In contrast, a lack of empathy, distance or indifference towards the individual generated less information and could lead to no comment or silence. Importantly, faking empathy or simplistic displays, or trick empathy was readily seen through and backfired. As such, it is not enough to ‘try’ empathy, one has to make a genuine effort to show positive regard.

Read more from Emily and Laurence Alison [HERE].