The Best of Both Worlds: Integrating Psychology and Law Enforcement Approaches to the Evaluation of Nonverbal Behavior in the Interview/Interrogation Setting

Carol K. Oyster, University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Tara Wildes, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

A number of academic disciplines conduct research on the interpretation of nonverbal behaviors, but unfortunately they not only do not communicate with each other, they also fail to communicate with 'real world' organizations, such as law enforcement, who could make practical use of their findings. A review of the research in social and clinical psychology and of the teaching materials for law enforcement indicates that there are several areas where cross-communication may be essential. For example, the commonly employed textbook on the 'Reid technique' of interview and interrogation includes less than one full page discussing cross-cultural differences while psychology has identified numerous such differences. Failure to consider such differences may result in a high probability of 'false positives' -- individuals who are truthful but are considered to be liars (e.g., numerous cultures consider direct eye-contact to be disrespectful while the Reid technique labels such behavior deceptive). In this paper a law-enforcement professional and a social psychologist collaborate to identify areas where enhancing communication between the disciplines can potentially enrich both and aid in the reinventing of justice.

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Updated 05/20/2006