Law and Human Behavior

, Volume 30, Issue 5, pp 603–619 | Cite as

Strategic Use of Evidence During Police Interviews: When Training to Detect Deception Works

  • Maria Hartwig
  • Pär Anders Granhag
  • Leif A. Strömwall
  • Ola Kronkvist
Original Article


Research on deception detection in legal contexts has neglected the question of how the use of evidence can affect deception detection accuracy. In this study, police trainees (N=82) either were or were not trained in strategically using the evidence when interviewing lying or truth telling mock suspects (N=82). The trainees’ strategies as well as liars’ and truth tellers’ counter-strategies were analyzed. Trained interviewers applied different strategies than did untrained. As a consequence of this, liars interviewed by trained interviewers were more inconsistent with the evidence compared to liars interviewed by untrained interviewers. Trained interviewers created and utilized the statement-evidence consistency cue, and obtained a considerably higher deception detection accuracy rate (85.4%) than untrained interviewers (56.1%).


Deception detection Statement-evidence consistency Evidence disclosure Interviewers’ strategies Suspects’ strategies 



This research was supported by a grant from the Swedish Research Council given to the second author. Thanks are due to Simon Andersson, Katja Dahlqvist, Sara Landström, Malin Olsson, Anna Rebelius, and Emma Roos af Hjelmsäter for help with the collection and coding of data. Many thanks to Superintendent Royne Nilsson for inspiring us to conduct this research, and to Professor Aldert Vrij for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript.


  1. Bull, R. (2004). Training to detect deception from behavioural cues: Attempts and problems. In P. A. Granhag & L. A. Strömwall (Eds.), The detection of deception in forensic contexts (pp. 251–268). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. DePaulo, B. M., Lindsay, J. J., Malone, B. E., Muhlenbruck, L., Charlton, K., & Cooper, H. (2003). Cues to deception. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 74–118.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. DeTurck, M., Feeley, T., & Roman, L. (1997). Vocal and visual training in behavioral lie detection. Communication Research Reports, 14, 249–259.Google Scholar
  4. Ekman, P., & O’Sullivan, M. (1991). Who can catch a liar? American Psychologist, 46, 913–920.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ekman, P., O’Sullivan, M., & Frank, M. G. (1999). A few can catch a liar. Psychological Science, 10, 263–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fiedler, K., & Walka, I. (1993). Training lie detectors to use nonverbal cues instead of global heuristics. Human Communication Research, 20, 199–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Frank, M. G., & Feeley, T. H. (2003). To catch a liar: Challenges for research in lie detection training. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 31, 58–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gilovich, T., Savitsky, K., & Medvec, V. H. (1998). The illusion of transparency: Biased assessments of others’ ability to read one’s emotional states. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 332–346.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gordon, N. J., & Fleisher, W. L. (2002). Effective interviewing and interrogation techniques. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  10. Granhag, P. A., & Strömwall, L. A. (1999). Repeated interrogations—Stretching the deception detection paradigm. Expert Evidence, 7, 163–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Granhag, P. A., & Strömwall, L. A. (2002). Repeated interrogations: Verbal and nonverbal cues to deception. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 16, 243–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Granhag, P. A., Strömwall, L. A., & Jonsson, A.-C. (2003). Partners in crime: How liars in collusion betray themselves. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 33, 848–867.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Granhag, P. A. & Vrij, A. (2005). Detecting deception. In N. Brewer & K. Williams (Eds.), Psychology & Law: An empirical perspective (pp. 43–92). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  14. Hartwig, M. (2005). Interrogating to detect deception and truth: Effects of strategic use of evidence. Unpublished PhD Thesis. Department of Psychology, Göteborg University, Sweden.Google Scholar
  15. Hartwig, M., Granhag, P. A., Strömwall, L. A., & Vrij, A. (2005). Detecting deception via strategic disclosure of evidence. Law and Human Behavior, 29, 469–484.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hartwig, M., Granhag, P. A., Strömwall, L. A., & Vrij, A. (2004). Police officers’ lie detection accuracy: Interrogating freely vs. observing video. Police Quarterly, 7, 429–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Inbau, F. E., Reid, J. E., Buckley, J. P., & Jayne, B. C. (2001). Criminal interrogation and confessions. Gaithersburg: Aspen Publishers.Google Scholar
  18. Kassin, S. M. (2005). On the psychology of confessions: Does innocence put innocent at risk? American Psychologist, 60, 215–228.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kassin, S. M., Goldstein, C. C., & Savitsky, K. (2003). Behavioral confirmation in the interrogation room: On the dangers of presuming guilt. Law and Human Behavior, 27, 187–203.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kassin, S. M., & Norwick, R. J. (2004). Why people waive their Miranda rights: The power of innocence. Law and Human Behavior, 28, 211–221.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Köhnken, G. (1987). Training police officers to detect deceptive eyewitness statements. Does it work? Social Behaviour, 2, 1–17.Google Scholar
  22. Leo, R. A. (1996). Inside the interrogation room. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 86, 266–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lerner, M. J. (1980). The belief in a just world. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  24. Macdonald, J. M., & Michaud, D. L. (1992). Criminal interrogation. Denver: Apache Press.Google Scholar
  25. Mann, S., Vrij, A., & Bull, R. (2004). Detecting true lies: Police officers’ ability to detect suspects’ lies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 137–149.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Park, H. S., Levine, T. R., McCornack, S. A., Morrison, K., & Ferrara, M. (2002). How people really detect lies. Communication Monographs, 69, 144–157.Google Scholar
  27. Porter, S., Woodworth, M., & Birt, A. R. (2000). Truth, lies, and videotape: An investigation of the ability of federal parole officers to detect deception. Law and Human Behavior, 24, 643–658.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Strömwall, L. A., Granhag, P. A., & Hartwig, M. (2004). Practitioners’ beliefs about deception. In P. A. Granhag & L. A. Strömwall (Eds.), Deception detection in forensic contexts (pp. 229–250). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Strömwall, L. A., Hartwig, M., & Granhag, P. A. (2006). To act truthfully: Nonverbal behavior during a police interrogation. Psychology, Crime and Law, 12, 207–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Vrij, A. (2000). Detecting lies and deceit: The psychology of lying and its implications for professional practice. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  31. Vrij, A. (2004). Why professionals fail to catch liars and how they can improve. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 9, 151–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Vrij, A., & Mann, S. (2001a). Telling and detecting lies in a high-stake situation: The case of a convicted murderer. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 15, 187–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Vrij, A., & Mann, S. (2001b). Who killed my relative? Police officers’ ability to detect real-life high-stake lies. Psychology, Crime, & Law, 7, 119–132.Google Scholar
  34. Yeschke, C. L. (1997). The art of investigative interviewing: A human approach to testimonial evidence. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© American Psychology-Law Society/Division 41 of the American Psychological Association 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Hartwig
    • 1
  • Pär Anders Granhag
    • 2
  • Leif A. Strömwall
    • 2
  • Ola Kronkvist
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal JusticeThe City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Göteborg UniversityGöteborgSweden
  3. 3.Växjö UniversityVäxjöSweden

Personalised recommendations