Research at the Investigative Interviewing Laboratory is conducted by Dr. Christian Meissner and his colleagues at the University of Texas at El Paso. Our research examines the social and cognitive psychological processes that underlie the interviewing of individuals in forensic settings. Generally speaking, researchers in our lab are interested in applying basic research in social and cognitive psychology to develop interview protocols and identification methods that will improve the diagnostic value of information obtained by law enforcement and intelligence personnel. As such, our research has three primary foci, including:
- Factors that influence eyewitness memory and lineup identification
Our research in this area has focused on several important factors that influence both recall of information by witnesses and the likelihood of subsequent identification of the perpetrator from a photographic lineup. We approach each of these issues from within both basic research and more applied eyewitness paradigms, with the intent of applying basic theories of memory in understanding factors that influence eyewitness performance.
- The detection of deception in forensic interviews
Our research in this area has examined the effects of training to detect deception, the role of "investigator biases," and the ability of individuals to distinguish between (a) true and false denials in the context of an interrogation, (b) true and false confessions offered by actual offenders, and most recently (c) true and false alibis provided following a "mock crime".
- Techniques employed in the interrogation of suspects and other non-cooperative individuals that lead to confessions
Research on police interrogations and confessions has generally examined the likelihood that certain techniques might lead individuals to falsely confess to an act that they did not commit (cf. Kassin & Kiechel, 1996). The limitations of this approach, in which only false confessions were extracted for an act that was incidental in nature (accidental key press on a computer), seemed clear to us and thereby motivated us to create a new approach. We have recently developed a novel experimental paradigm for assessing the diagnostic value of interrogation tactics in which both "innocent" and "guilty" participants are accused of cheating in an academic setting, and a confession is sought via a variety of techniques by an interrogator that is blind to the guilt-innocence of the participant. Our research in this area has permitted us to explore common interrogation techniques that are advocated by modern interrogation manuals (e.g., the "Reid Technique"), including aspects of implied vs. direct leniency, minimization vs. maximization of the seriousness of the offense, and the presentation of false evidence.
For more information please visit the Investigative Interviewing Laboratory Web site or contact Dr. Meissner at the Department of Psychology at UTEP (915) 747-6056.