University psychologist collaborates in truth-telling project

The study, entitled ‘Helping to sort the liars from the truth-tellers: The gradual revelation of information during investigative interviews’, found that drip-feeding evidence to the suspect boosted the detection rate to 68% compared with 50% - no better than chance - for the existing methods where all the information is revealed either early or late in the interview.

Dr Coral Dando, Reader in Applied Cognitive Psychology at the University, was asked to take part in the study not only because of her expertise but also due to her background as a specialist interviewer in the police force.

The study, published in “Legal and Criminal Psychology”, was carried out by a team of academics which included figures from Lancaster University and Derby University. The research was commissioned and funded by the Economic and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Speaking about the project, Dr Coral Dando said: “I was encouraged to apply for this position because of my background as a police officer and specialist interviewer, and because my PhD research and early career publications were centred on the psychology of investigative interviewing.

“The primary research questions that guided my work on this project were firstly how to collect and manage large amounts of information about peoples movements and behaviours (often referred to as electronic footprint or scent trail data), and secondly how best to use that information in an interview setting to make a veracity judgment, i.e. how and when should that information be used.

“Obviously since September 11 terrorism has been a major public concern, so to ensure safety, new methods to foil attacks before they are executed are vitally important.

“The techniques from this research are currently being trialled by two large UK police forces and a significant US government organisation. I am now seeking some further research funding from the EPSRC to do some knowledge exchange work which will help to disseminate these findings further, and also to develop training materials based on the findings.”


For more information please contact Patrick Campbell in the Media Relations Office on 01902 322448

Date Issued: Tuesday 14 May 2013

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