University of Sussex
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Exploring investigative question generation

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posted on 2023-06-09, 21:21 authored by Thomas Parkhouse
A failure to conduct effective investigative interviews can have drastic consequences such as wrongful convictions or the inability to prevent terrorist attacks. One method of judging the efficacy of an interview is the ability to distinguish between honest and deceptive interviewees. Many techniques claim to improve the ability to detect deception, such as the CCE technique. However, little research has focused on the conditions that might enhance the ability to generate investigatively useful questions. In series of experiments we sought to identify the underlying dimensions of question quality. Initially, we investigated unexpectedness, finding that it was a useful dimension but dependent on the content of the questions (Chapters 2 and 3). In Chapter 5 we used a bottom-up approach to develop a 3-dimensional model of question quality. These dimensions were investigative relevance, unpredictability and type of knowledge probed. The model proved to be effective in predicting the outcome of real-world investigate interviews (Chapter 6). We also aimed to investigate the factors which might affect question generation ability. The scope of episodic information inherently available to the interviewer was shown to be a context-dependent factor affecting the ability to generate useful questions (Chapters 4 and 5). Training, via a short instructional video, was also shown to improve question generating ability (Chapter 4). Additionally, the veracity of the interviewee and the expertise of the question generator affected ability, though this was only detected by novice judges (Chapter 5). The findings presented in this thesis have implications for the investigative community, suggesting that deliberate attention should be paid to the phrasing of key interview questions in order to ensure that they are relevant, unpredictable and probing episodic knowledge. Additionally, the findings may inform current research that is focused on developing technology designed to assist investigative interviewers.


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University of Sussex

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