Understanding Reflective Language
Q. "Did you rape and kill that young girl?"
A. "I did not rape and kill that young girl."
Question: Is this a reliable denial?
It is "unreliable" for analysis. It does not mean the subject is guilty, nor does it mean the subject is innocent. It means that the subject reflected back the words of the interviewer. This is why we attempt to avoid leading questions: a leading question can be less stressful to lie to because the subject can parrot or reflect back the words.
The above needs to tell us, "I did not kill and rape that girl" while speaking in the Free Editing Process.
Q. Tell me what happened?
A. I don't know what happened. Are you kidding me? I did not kill that girl. I don't know what happened to her or who did it, but I didn't kill her. I didn't rape her and I didn't kill her. You need to do your job and find out who did it, but it wasn't me. I didn't do it."
The above would be a very strong indication that the subject didn't do it.
Take a look at Kevin Fox' statement here for a reliable denial.
Here is another way of viewing the unreliable denial (not "deceptive", but "unreliable") on a rape-murder case:
Let us presume that we already know the subject didn't do it:
Q. Did you rape and kill that little girl?
A. I did not rape and kill that little girl.
Since this is reflective language, reducing reliability, we seek to lead the subject into telling us, with his own words, he didn't do it.
Q. Ok, what would you say later if we found out you were lying?
A. I would say you are wrong. I told the truth. I did not kill her. I didn't rape her. You have the wrong person here.
Because the subject was able to bring himself, on his own to say both: "I didn't..." and "I told the truth" it is very likely that he did not do it.
We have "unreliable denials" in subjects who are not asked the right questions, or have not had enough time to talk, or, in the case of some innocents, they do not realize that they are suspects. It is the skill of the interviewer to bring an "unreliable" denial to the surface.
"I know I didn't do anything..." is weak and unreliable. Upon hearing this, the trained interviewer will bring out new questions in order to allow the subject to make a reliable denial. In the case of Jessica Ridgeway, the interview was very poorly conducted. Simply, he could have said,
"What do you say to those who think you are involved in your daughter's disappearance?"
"Did you take a polygraph?"
"What do you say to those who doubt you?"
...and so on.
The skill of the analyst:
At some point, an analyst may draw a conclusion, which is where the most care is needed. In some cases, the unreliable denial is repeatedly noted and the analyst concludes:
The analyst now says: "The subject is unable it bring himself to say he didn't 'do it'; therefore, we are no permitted to say it for him. "
With reflective language, we only need some follow up questions to get the subject to choose his own words in order to draw a conclusion.
An "unreliable denial", as a status, means just that: We are not saying he 'did it' or that he 'didn't do it', but that he entered into the language of another. Even moving a single sentence or two away from the Interviewer's language can signal that the subject is now speaking on his own.
Regarding sound bites:
Sound bites can be useful and helpful, or they can deliberately cut out context (attempt to persuade) in order to color it. At times, what one says is shocking, until we hear the context, and even though we may not like what the subject has says (or agree) we see that:
By cutting out context, there is a colorization of the words. This means a deliberate attempt in editing is done to persuade listeners.
Stewart was talking about "optimal" security and the President responded with the obvious, shooting down in the negative, what Stewart was offering.
I don't agree with the President's words but the words should not be taken outside of the context.
In context they do not look good; but they take on a far worse appearance in a sound bite.
A sound bite that attempts to color words is deceptive. A soundbite can be legitimately used if we do not need the preceding words for clarification.
If the intent is to color, it is deceptive. If the soundbite simply captures the subject's own words, the words should stand on their own.
Lance Armstrong issued unreliable denials, beginning in 1999 and has done so, consistently up to 2012. If he were to now, stand before a microphone and say "I did not use EPO" it would be a lie against reality, and very rare, indeed. We generally do not see this, and if we do, it is often a prepared and read statement. Upon engaging in conversation, it is not likely to be heard during the free editing process.
Even with a reflective answer, just a sentence or two from the subject can bring him into the free editing process, where he is choosing his words for himself.
Those with an agenda who seek to prove one thing or another can take the principle of reflective language and use it to persuade. This is a form of deception.