• Investigative empathy: Five types of cognitive empathy in a field study of investigative interviews with suspects of sexual offences

      Baker-Eck, Bianca; Bull, Ray; Walsh, Dave; University of Derby; De Montfort University (International Investigative Interviewing Research Group, 2021-04)
      Empathy in investigative interviews has increasingly become a focus in the recent literature on investigative interviewing as its implementation may aid in building and maintaining rapport. Displaying empathy in interviews is claimed to have positive impacts on the provision of investigation relevant information and the cooperation of interviewees. However, the literature currently omits practically operationalizing empathy, which would provide a means of implementing it effectively in investigative interviews. As such, the present study examines empathic displays by interviewers employed in interviews with suspects of high-risk crimes such as sexual offences in order to see what types are applied as a step towards identifying and possibly defining/operationalizing empathy during investigative interviews in the future. 19 audio-tapes of police interviews with suspects of sexual crimes in England and Wales conducted by experienced police interviewers were coded for their empathic displays and suspects’ level of cooperation throughout the interviews. Five different types of empathy were found to be employed. Interviews that had higher levels of suspect cooperation involved all five types of investigative empathy, whereas interviews in which fewer types of empathy were displayed had less cooperation (by offering less or no information). Thus, the use of investigative empathy in investigative interviews can indeed be recommended.