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Statement Analysis: What Do Suspects' Words Really Reveal?

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 65 Issue: 10 Dated: (October 1996) Pages: 12-20
S H Adams
Date Published
9 pages
Many police investigators use a technique called statement analysis to discern the truth in statements given by suspects.
They try to detect deception by examining words independently of the facts of the case. They also remain alert for omitted information and question why the suspect may have omitted the information. They then analyze the clues that were unintentionally provided and use this insight during the subsequent interview. Statement analysis follows a two-step process. First, investigators determine what is typical of a truthful statement, which they call the norm. They then look for any deviation from this norm. Truthful statements differ from fabricated ones in both content and quality. Inexperienced investigators find it easier to begin by examining written statements, either transcripts of oral statements or statements written by the suspect. Statement analysis focuses on four factors: Parts of speech (pronouns, nouns, and verbs), extraneous information, lack of conviction, and the balance of the statement. The analysis of the statements made by Susan and David Smith following the disappearance of their young sons in South Carolina exemplifies the use of statement analysis. Chart, figure, and 7 reference notes