Cognitive Interviewing - Online Training Course

Information from people often initiates an investigation and sets the foundation and direction for everything that follows. Information is the lifeblood of criminal investigations, yet true and accurate recall of information from people is difficult to achieve. In fact, 75% of wrongfully convicted people, convicted of crimes they didn’t commit, were based upon faulty eyewitness information! Cognitive Interviewing is an investigative interviewing technique that provides greater and more accurate recall of information from victims and witnesses of crimes. This online training course utilizes video instruction, personal reading, research material, assignments, individual practice and application of the techniques learned as well as instructor feedback which greatly improves the ability of investigators to conduct effective information-gathering interviews. Understanding how memory works will not only allow the investigator to gather more accurate information from victims and witnesses, it will also help to shed light on information that is NOT coming from memory and thus, may be deceptive or unreliable. Cognitive Interviewing is one of the most highly researched methods of investigative interviewing drawing international support from the academic community as well as investigators within the field. Students will learn the strengths and weaknesses of human memory, and in so doing, learn techniques to maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses. This online, self-paced training program focuses on effective communication and powerful interviewing techniques and strategies to enhance memory and recall from victims and witnesses. This training will develop essential skills for patrol, first responders and investigators. Detectives working “cold cases” may find these skills especially helpful as memory can degrade over time. 

To register for the self-paced Cognitive Interviewing online training course, or for a video and more information about the course, click the following link:

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Deception and Facial Expressions

Understanding facial expressions, micro-expressions and emotions can provide valuable information during an interview or interrogation. Things like changes in their normal baseline or identifying conflicts between what they say and their expressed emotion or micro-expression can help lead an investigator to focus questions at these key areas. Pair this up with understanding and assessing body language and really listening to what they say and how they say it through critical analysis of the words they use with training in investigative statement analysis and you are on you way to reaching the truth. Keep in mind that none of these techniques specifically identify deception, but they help to prioritize interviews, direct investigations as well as focus and improve an investigators interviewing strategy. This will ultimately ferret out deception and bring the truth to light. For information on facial expressions and micro-expressions, check out the following video:

Language, Memory and your Brain

Steven Pinker provides a lot of insight into human language in this video, which has a LOT of information to digest, but the concepts Pinker shares really drive home why it's so important for an investigator to really listen to the words people use during interviews and interrogations.


Good Liars

I recently read an article about lying, and according to Psychology Professor Caroline Keating, good liars are ultimately good actors. Her advice on how to lie convincingly is to "rehearse" in order to reduce anxiety. "Good lying, like good acting, is an art that requires a plausible story, well-practiced."

This is absolutely true, which is why an investigator should also be well-practiced and well-trained. An individual who intends to be deceptive will likely plan ahead as to what they are going to say and what they are not going to say. This often appears as a lot of information right up front, but as you progress through the interview with appropriate probing questions, no further information develops. The reason for this is that liars tell their "story" right up front and when probed for further information, nothing is there since they are not relying on their memory because their "story" is just that, a "story" and not a memory.

This is contrary to truthful people who are recalling information from their memory. Quite often a truthful person provides information at the beginning of the interview, and if you probe their story correctly, like with Cognitive Interview prompts, you will get additional information and detail because they are accessing memory, and memory links and traces are accessed leading to additonal information.

So, with proper training an astute interviewer can win at the game of deception because no matter how much planning a liar does, they can't possibly plan for every question! 


Our primary purpose is to enhance the investigator's ability to develop rapport, facilitate communication, extract more accurate information, detect deception and obtain the TRUTH from every investigative inquiry.


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