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Text Bridges and the Micro-Action Interview

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 77 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2008 Pages: 20-24
John R. Schafer Ph.D.
Date Published
January 2008
5 pages
This article discusses text bridges used in deception during investigative interviews and how investigators can apply micro-action interviews as an investigative interview tool.
By understanding combinations of text bridges used by guilty interviewees, an investigator can apply the techniques of a micro-action interview to determine the veracity of an individual’s narrative. Deceptive people leak verbal and nonverbal cues, which provide investigators with immediate feedback regarding the veracity of the interviewee, whereas truthful people remain unaware that interviewers are testing their honesty. Text bridges signal areas in spoken and written communication where individuals are withholding information. Sentence construction must follow certain grammar rules, and truthful people use the same guidelines as deceptive people. The words or grammatical devices used to bridge the information gap, also referred to as text bridges, serve as markers to locate withheld information, which does not always indicate deception. However, the use of text bridges during critical times in written statements or interviews signals the high probability of deception. Text bridges comprise three categories: subordinating words, transitional terms, and adverbial conjunctives. Subordinating words (after, although, as long as, because, even though, if, and while) connect unequal but related ideas and create times gaps. Transitional words connect themes and ideas or establish relationships. Adverbial conjunctives, such as the use of the word “then”, connect two complete ideas to create time gaps. Investigators must decide the potential value of the missing information. If investigators identify a text bridge and deem the withheld information important, they can close the information gap via a micro-action interview that will provide a systematic accounting for all of the interviewee’s time and behaviors during the gap. The systematic narrowing of the information gaps during micro-action interviews puts deceptive people in a psychological vise. Conversely, truthful people will remain relatively calm and be able to answer the question as presented. Tables, notes