Language style matching and police interrogation outcomes

Richardson, Beth Helen orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8738-9925, Taylor, Paul J., Snook, Brent, Conchie, Stacey M. and Bennell, Craig (2014) Language style matching and police interrogation outcomes. Law and Human Behavior, 38 (4). pp. 357-366. ISSN 0147-7307

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This research examined the coordination of interrogator and suspects’ verbal behavior in interrogations. Sixty-four police interrogations were examined at the aggregate and utterance level using a measure of verbal mimicry known as Language Style Matching. Analyses revealed an interaction between confession and the direction of language matching. Interrogations containing a confession were characterized by higher rates of the suspect matching the interrogators’ language style than interrogations without a confession. A sequence analysis of utterance-level Language Style Matching revealed a divergence in the type of matching that occurred across outcome. There was a linear increase in interrogator-led matching for interrogations containing a confession and an increase in suspect-led matching for nonconfession interrogations. These findings suggest that police interrogations play out, in part, at the basic level of language coordination.

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