ANALYSIS NEW INVESTIGATIVE
PROCESSES TO HELP YOU
UNCOVER THE TRUTH
By Ralph Thomas
- In a statement analysis,
the investigator focuses on the words, lack of words used, body
language and/or handwriting in the response from a witness or
subject to to determine truthfulness instead of focusing on the
facts that are stated. The key to using these techniques is often
deviation from the norm or a deviation or switch from one type
of descriptive communication to another. This type of investigative
interviewing technique can be quite effect and is used and officially
taught by top rated investigative organizations such as the Federal
Bureau Of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency.
- In order to use this
type of technique, a different type of interviewing technique
is employed. Barry Zalma's innovative investigative interviewing
The Truth, The Investigative Interviewing Manual, reveals
to the reader that through the use of various techniques, no one
can consistently lie to a good investigative interviewer and the
truth can be pulled, even from an unwilling subject or witness.
But other techniques other than pure and direct fact finding questioning
needs to be used in these types of cases. Instead of a focused
and limited question and answer session, you simply let the subject
or witness describe in his or her own words what happened during
the day of the event and write it down or otherwise record the
statement. The witness or subject is asked to describe the event
in question from his or her perspective for the complete day of
the event. By letting the subject express the complete day in
detail as to his or her activities, you develop a complete accounting
in words of the subject or witness without any question prompting
from yourself. Pointed and focused questions can be used after
this technique is first employed.
- In using this technique,
you now have a complete record of the day's accounting in the
subject's own words and own communication style. The analysis
can now be conducted based on the words and communications style
picked by the subject or witness and a change in the choice of
certain communications styles becomes a red flag. What you are
actually looking for is a change in language, wordage or other
communication methods used by the subject. Once a change in language
is noted, special attention needs to be paid to these areas.
Phrasing analysis and careful analysis of content can be conducted
to look for further signs of deception, once you have the full
statement. The statement can be either a written statement or
a verbally recorded statement with the subject's knowledge and
- Aside from language
analysis, you can also conduct body language analysis as well
as handwriting analysis.
- Although not one hundred
percent foolproof, these techniques can be a strong indication
of deception. In order to better understand this technique, let
us look at some specific examples and common communications styles
in the actual analysis.
- We are going to be
focusing on the following:
- PRONOUN ANALYSIS
- NOUN ANALYSIS
- VERB ANALYSIS
BODY LANGUAGE DEVIATION
BODY LANGUAGE ANALYSIS
OVERALL CONTENT ANALYSIS
- METHODS OF RECORDING
THE STATEMENT FOR ANALYSIS
Before we go through some of the cutting-edge techniques, a quick
review of methods of recording the statement are in order describing
the advantages and disadvantages of each. In a written statement,
you'll only have the handwriting and the words used by the subject.
A step up from that would be the verbal recording of the subject
by use of an audio tape recording. This gives you an extra dimension
of the interview not found in the written statement. It has one
drawback in that it lacks the subject's handwriting. A step up
from that would be the video recorded statement. It has all the
advantages of both words used, verbal expression and also offers
a recording of the subject's body language. Wordage and phrasing
analysis can be done with all types of recorded statements mentioned
above. Naturally, only the written statement made by the subject
or witness could be used for handwriting analysis and only a video
recording could be used for analysis of body language.
- PRONOUN ANALYSIS
- The pronoun "I"
needs to be given special focus in the subject statement. Most
people will reply in the first person, i.e. "I". Any
deviation from that would be a subconscious indicator and red
flag of deception. When someone answers a question untruthfully
concerning themselves, they will sometimes subconsciously attempt
to draw focus away from themselves by avoiding the use of the
first person pronoun, "I". This could include words
such as "we", "it", "they", "them",
""the other", or even "it".
- One of the best indicators
of this is in a statement in which the subject continues to describe
his accountings using the word "I" and then, all of
a sudden, he or she simply stops using it. An example of this
might look like this.
- I awoke at
7:30. I got up and made coffee. I drank my coffee and then
showered and dressed. I read the newspaper. I felt the house
about 8:15. I arrived at work at 8:45. I worked until lunchtime
which was about 12:30. I left work for lunch and traveled
to BoJo's Counter Grill. Met John Rutherford for lunch and
then returned to work about 1:30. I worked until about 5:00.
Note that the only time the subject did not use the first
person pronoun "I" in his statement was when he described
meeting Rutherford for lunch. This is a red flag.
- Anytime you see a
deviation from a first person pronoun in a statement, a red flag
should go up. The subconscious is at work attempting to distance
one's self from any individual involvement.
- Any time the pronoun
"we" is used when it appears that the first person pronoun
"I" should be used, you have the same situation. The
subject's subconscious is at work attempting to distance himself
or herself by having others involved when no one else is.
- When two people are
actually involved and the pronoun "we" should be used,
you can sometimes spot a deviation from this in a statement. An
example of this might look something like this:
- We left the
office at 5:30. We arrived at the meeting at about 6:00. After
the meeting was over, my coworker and myself left and went
to Ron's Pool Hall.
In this statement, notice that the subject used the word "we"
until the meeting was over. All of the sudden, "we"
becomes "my co-worker and myself.
- People will also subconsciously
shift from one pronoun to another in accounting descriptions which
should be another red flag. For example:
- The party was
over about 1:00 AM and they left to go to the Pancake House.
It was late but they wanted to go for breakfast. Once we left
Notice the shift from "they" to "we".
- Possessive pronouns
work the same way as with pronouns describing people. Possessive
pronouns often used to describe possession or ownership may include
words such as my, our, their, his, her, or your.
- Just like the deviation
of "we" to "they, a sudden switch in the use of
possessive pronouns should be a red flag. For example........
- We took our
money and went down to 5th street. We parked on Main Street
as traffic was high and we could not find a close place to
park. We then walked down about two blocks and turned right
onto 5th with our money. They hit John over the head and took
Notice everything was "our money" until the event
occurred. All of the sudden "our money" becomes "the
- In investigative analysis,
always look for these types of switches in pronouns and always
consider why the subject or witness has switched the selection
of the pronoun in his or her communications style.
- NOUN ANALYSIS
- Noun analysis can
also be used in the same type of technique. Again, simply look
for a change in the noun used in the description. An example might
look something like this...
- My wife and
I left the house about 7:30 and went to the Marina. My wife
and I left the Marina in our boat at about 9:00 AM. We obtained
fuel and food in the boat store and then my wife and I headed
for Creek Cove. Arriving at about 10:15, the boat was anchored
and my wife and I started to swim. I got back out of the water
about 10:30. It was about 10:45 when I noticed that Cindy
was not in sight.
Notice the change from "wife" to 'Cindy".
- Verbs will generally
express action in the subject or witness's accounting of events
and will be stated in a tense form. Tense in action is stated
in either past, present or future. Anytime the tense in a statement
changes, a red flag should go up. Here is an example of this:
- About the middle
of last month, I went down to the airport to wash my plane.
I parked in the normal members only area. I approached the
hanger door. Opening the door, I see that my plane is gone.
I went up to the office and asked if anyone knew anything
about the plane. I then called the police.
Notice that the subject switched from past tense to present
tense when he opened the door and noted that his plane was not
where it was supposed to be. He then switched back to past tense.
This is often done in a subconscious manner and is a red flag.
- EXTRANEOUS INFORMATION
AND CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER OF THE ACCOUNTING ANALYSIS
- In Gavin De Becker's
new book on personal security titled Gift Of Fear,
he sets out the fact that a stranger offering information that
is not asked for should be a warning sign of danger. He also describes
people who walk up to you and overwhelm you with information is
also a warning sign of danger.
- In witness statement
analysis, there can be many signs of extraneous information and
information presented out of order in relationship to time. These
indicators should be considered red flags. When a truthful person
describes events for a day, those events are usually set out in
a chronological way. When the account is not presented in a chronological
manner, a red flag should go up.
- Justifications to
action is another red flag. It's an opinion. Remember, you didn't
ask for opinion or justification, just facts set out in the subjects
own words. This extra information should be viewed with suspicion.
- The more disorganized
an account, the more the account is out of order chronologically
and the more extraneous information is found in an account, the
more the account becomes suspect.
EXTRANEOUS PHRASES AND LOW CONVICTION ANALYSIS
- Extraneous phrases
are phases a subject adds to an accounting which points to no
conviction on the subject which is sometimes concealed with language
indicating that the subject can not remember. A person engaged
in deception is more likely to use extraneous phrasing such as
"I believe, I think or kind of or to the best of my knowledge,
". These phrases are red flags in that they point to a focused
lack of conviction on the part of the subject or witness. Phrasing
in this type of manner is often referred to as qualifiers which
tend to diminish the action and tend to point to non-conviction
in the statement.
- If someone should
be scared and it's described as, "kind of" or if someone
should be mad and it's described as, "I think I was",
this is the type of thing we are taking about.
BODY LANGUAGE ANALYSIS
- Observation of body
language can only be observed by the investigator unless the accounting
is video taped. Thus, video taping provides the words of the statement,
the expression used in the statement and the body language used
by the subject. Just as you can develop switches in actual wordage
used in accountings, you can also utilize body language deviation
in analysis. If your subject or witness changes his body language
suddenly while giving his or her accounting, this should be a
red flag of deception. Examples of this could be:
with hands and suddenly stops using them.
Leans forward during specific aspects of accounting.
- Crosses legs
only during certain accountings.
- Crosses arms
only during certain accountings.
Twitching only in specific key areas.
Scratching or touching various places only in specific areas.
- Out of order
Fumbling with pens or other items during specific areas.
Most body language is rather subconious. Pulling on ears,
touching noise with a finger, scratching, pulling bottom lip
up over top lip or top lip over bottom lip before verbal communication,
shifting legs or arms--these are all signs that can be observed
in a video statement. When they are not found throughout the
statement and appear only in critical areas of verbal content,
a red flag should go up.
- HANDWRITING ANALYSIS
There are many good handwriting analysis experts in the country.
Several investigative agencies even offer services for handwriting
analysis for specific types of investigative tasks such as pre-employment
screening. Most major law enforcement agencies employ handwriting
analysis experts which is a good indication of the power of the
subject. Here are the top six red flags of handwriting specifics
that could indicate deception:
- Script of the
writer is inferior in certain places than in others.
Writer starts with one slant and then changes the slant.
Broken vowels are found in the sentence under question.
Double loops are found in letters within a sentence when otherwise
- Subject uses
long sweeping pre-strokes.
- Subject's handwriting
is almost unreadable in certain places.
- BALANCE TESTING
IN THE ACCOUNT ANALYSIS
Sometimes red flags can be drawn from considering the total content
of the statement and studying in it detail. Deception can sometimes
be spotted using this method. A statement should have three parts:
Section the statement
into these three parts. Now count the words and sentences in each
part and examine each part's contents. Each part should contain
the same amount of details concerning content and each part should
be about thirty-three percent of the total.
- 1) Accounting
leading up to event.
2) Accounting of the actual event
3) Accounting of what happened after the event
- Remember that I said
none of this is fool-proof. Of course, little in life is. It must
be noted that one red flag could be meaningless but when the red
flags mount up, so does the evidence of deception. By using all
the tools above and studying this subject in depth, the investigator
will indeed become a better investigator at uncovering the truth.
I have listed other resources and aids for further study.