Strategic sequences in police interviews and the importance of order and cultural fit

Karlijn Beune*, Ellen Giebels, Wendi L. Adair, Bob M. Fennis, Karen I. van der Zee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study introduces the concept of strategic sequences to police interviews and concentrates on the impact of active listening behavior and rational arguments. To test the authors' central assumption that the effectiveness of strategic sequences is dependent on cultural fit (i.e., the match with the cultural background of suspects), young people participated in virtual police interviews. Study 1 demonstrated that contrast sequences accentuating rational rather than relational behavior were found to be effective in eliciting information and admissions from suspects originating from cultures that tend to use more direct and content-oriented communication (i.e., low-context cultures), whereas for suspects from cultures that use more indirect and context-oriented communication (i.e., high-context cultures) a nonsignificant trend in reversed order was found. Study 2 added the investigation of the joint impact of active listening and rational arguments. In line with predictions, the results showed that an active listening-rational arguments sequence is most effective when active listening behavior precedes- rather than follows-rational arguments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)934-954
Number of pages21
JournalCriminal Justice and Behavior
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011


  • culture
  • good cop-bad cop
  • interrogation
  • low context-high context
  • police interview
  • strategic sequence


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