Interrogative suggestibility: the role of interviewer behaviour

Stella Anne Bain, James S. Baxter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: Interrogative suggestibility may vary as a function of interviewer behaviour. The present study assessed the effect of two interviewer styles on measures of interrogative suggestibility obtained using the first of the Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scales (GSS1). It was hypothesized that a generally abrupt demeanour adopted by the interviewer would produce greater psychological distance, and therefore higher GSS1 scores, than a friendly demeanour.
Methods: The study had a single factor between participants design. Participants were tested on the GSS1 by an interviewer whose behaviour was either ‘friendly’ or ‘abrupt’. One female experimenter conducted all of the interviews. Fifty-five participants took part in the study. Most participants were first year undergraduate psychology students. Others were university administrative staff. Results. Two of the GSS1 measures appeared to be biased significantly by interviewer style. Participants tested in the ‘abrupt’ condition gained higher scores for Shift and Total Suggestibility than those in the ‘friendly’ condition.
Conclusions: These results are consistent with the view that the GSS1 provides measures of two different types of suggestibility. However, this finding may also mean that whilst initial responses to leading questions are mediated by more stable cognitive factors that are relatively unaffected by interviewer demeanour, post-feedback scores may be more sensitive to the social aspects of suggestibility. Implications of the results for the objectivity and administration of the Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scales are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-133
Number of pages11
JournalLegal and Criminological Psychology
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2000

Keywords

  • Gudjonsson suggestibility scales
  • interview techniques
  • suggestibility
  • criminal psychology

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