• Investigative empathy: a strength scale of empathy based on European police perspectives

      Baker, Bianca; Bull, Ray; Walsh, Dave; University of Derby; De Montfort University (Taylor and Francis, 2020-05-14)
      A growing body of research suggests that empathy may play a major role in establishing and maintaining rapport during police interviews. The benefits of rapport include not only increased cooperation from interviewees, but also gaining more accurate investigation-relevant information. However, despite a large amount of research on empathy which already exists, there still is, unfortunately, no universally agreed-upon definition and very little research on operationalizing and implementing appropriate forms of empathy, especially within the realm of investigative interviewing. Therefore, the present study was conducted with the goal of better understanding empathy from a police perspective and developing a way to assess and operationalize empathy for use in police interviews with suspects of high risk crimes (particularly with sex offences). The study considers police interviewers’ varying definitions of empathy in seven European countries, along with other factors. It analyzed police interviewers’ self-reports regarding their (i) training and methods employed during interviews, (ii) application of empathy in interviews, and (iii) definitions/understanding of empathy. Based on their answers, the various definitions of empathy were compiled and then placed on a new strength scale. It was found that officers in all participating countries varied within each country in their use of accusatory or information-gathering interview styles, suggesting that the methods employed were not systematically and uniformly taught and/or applied. The majority of participants in each country claimed to currently employ empathy in their interviews with suspects, yet they varied on their strength of the definitions provided. In no country was empathy considered useless in interviews and in no country was empathy defined as having aspects that may not be conducive to investigative interviewing.
    • 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.