Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Intent in Statement Analysis and Analytical Interviewing

When we look at a statement, we are of the presupposition that the subject spoke or wrote in order to be understood.  If you have a statement, you have the meaning of the statement intended.  This is "intent" and what we will view in Statement Analysis. 

To not have a meaning intended, you have marks on a page, nothing more, which cry out for meaning.  This is the point:  a person has spoken in order to be heard, therefore, the statement is subject to analysis.  To deny intent is to supply the intent of another. Who's intent?  The denying one, himself, is most likely the replacement intent.  This is projection.   

We view the statement as the verbalized reality of the subject, not reality.  Those who wish for exemptions because they with to impose their own intent upon a statement miss that we are not interpreting, or 'reinterpreting' one's words, we are listening.

We are presupposing, for example, that the person has spoken for the purpose of communication and, when choosing the past tense verb, for example, is thinking 'past tense' of the event:  the event has already passed in time.  A child of 5 years of age is efficient at knowing what took place in the past, versus what is yet to come.  
In the  world, words reveal the person behind them. This is one of our foundational presuppositions; one that does not have to be proven.  We presuppose words, true enough, but in every instance where I do this, I always presuppose a speaker/writer who intended his words to be governed by his intentions. I never presuppose words that are just there by themselves.


"I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky."

Analytical Interviewing is just what it sounds like:  an interview based upon Statement Analysis. It is non intrusive and low pressure.  It recognizes that the information is with the subject, not with the interviewer, and it is only by listening that the information is gained.  Therefore, the Interviewer seeks to use as little words as possible while the subject does up to 90% of the talking.  

It begins with (1) open-ended, legally sound questions in which the subject will tell us "what happened" and so forth.  

Next, (2) questions are asked based upon the specific words used by the subject.  No interpretation of words:  whenever something is not clear, the subject is asked for clarification.  If the subject says "sex", the subject is asked "What is sex?" and "Please be specific..." as the Interviewer carefully avoids introducing any words to the subject.  In the above sample, "What is "sexual relations"? would have cleared up the matter by asking for clarity:  entering into the personal, subjective, internal dictionary of former President Clinton.  He was not lying, but if not lying, what was his intent?  We presuppose that he spoke these words for a purpose.  (Later, he admitted his purpose.)

During phase (1) and (2) careful notes are taken.  It is fine to slow down the interview and say, "Excuse my slowness, but I am writing down your words and want to get them 

Then, (3) questions are asked based upon the analysis that is done on the fly, with special emphasis upon pronouns, change of language, time, and persons (SCAN technique).  This is also done to avoid interpretation. 

Lastly (4), questions may be asked about the evidence, or about information gleaned from collateral contacts, video, physical evidence, and so forth.  

Each of us has our own internal, personal, subjective dictionary, so it is crucial that we do not interpret one's meaning during the interview, but ask for clarification.  If someone says "he was so angry", the appropriate question is, "What does "so angry" look like?  Please explain."  This allows the subject, himself, to describe the situation, rather than leave it open to interpretation.  

In our analysis, we seek to avoid to interpret, but to listen. But if I were to presuppose such words floating out there in the middle of the air, it would not because they did not need intention, but rather because it was my error to give them my intention.  We all have a tendency to project; it is where we see our own tendency, and make the attempt to step back from it. 

Let's look at the same communication and see how very differently it can be presented:

Question:  "What time is the meeting?"


a.  "My boss said to give report at 9."
b.  "My boss, Ms. Smith, said to give report at 9."
c.  "The boss said to give report at 9."
d.  "The boss stood and said to give report at 9."
e.  "The boss told me to give report at 9."

and on it goes with even more variations.  All the answers give the time as "9" but each answer is deliberately chosen and holds meaning:  the intent of the speaker.  Those here long enough know that, for example, in answer (b) we have a complete social introduction, often indicative of a very good relationship. 

In answer (c) we have "the" boss, not "my" boss, and without a name:  as an incomplete social introduction, this is not often a good relationship
In answer  (d), the subject included body posture, often a signal of an increase in tension.  
In answer (e) we have "told" instead of "said", which is more authoritative. 

Each of the answers has its own intent by the subject, and we are to seek the subject's intent, rather than replace it with our own intent. 

We often see "linguistic gymnastics" where defense attorneys work, for example, to deliberately twist wording in order to change the meaning of the statement.  

We also saw this in Amanda Knox defenders.  "No, this means that..." and "she said that after being tired..." and so forth.  They imputed meaning into the text that was not intended by the author, but by their own selves in order to establish their agenda.  

When Amanda Knox gave her statement, it was her intent to deceive.  She chose words that she knew would cast suspicion away from her, and towards an innocent man.  While doing so, she revealed herself. 

In analysis, we take notice that she had a need to deceive.  

Next, we take notice that the words chosen, themselves, come from somewhere; not from a vacuum.  We noted that the words she chosen are often found in the language of those involved in sexual homicide. 

Free Editing Process 

The Free Editing Process is when we ask an open ended question and allow the subject to begin the account where he chooses, often showing priority. 

When Nancy Grace asked Billie Jean Dunn, "What happened?" regarding her missing daughter, Dunn could begin the account of "what happened" to Hailey, at whatever point she so chose to do so.  This means that the language of the Interviewer (Nancy Grace) will not influence the answer. 

"She went missing while I was at work" was the answer. 

She chose to begin her answer with intent of alibi building:  Even though she was not asked "when did she go missing?", the timing is sensitive to Dunn.  We also note that "What happened?", itself as a question, is avoided with the answer to "when did she go missing?", making the question of what happened to Hailey, itself, sensitive to Billie Dunn.  To date, she is a Person of Interest in the disappearance of her daughter. 

In the Free Editing Process, one is choosing his own words, and this is done quickly, in less than a second, as the brain tells the tongue what words to use. 

"Did you take the jewelry piece out of the store's safe?" answered by "I did not take the jewelry piece out of the store's safe" means that the subject has used 'Reflective Language', that is, the language of the Interviewer.  This is to be deemed an Unreliable Denial.  The subject may not have stolen the jewelry, but we look for the denial to come during the Free Editing Process, not simply parroting back one's words.  This is like the cartoonish reading of analysis, walking up to a microphone and uttering, "I did not kill Hailey" just because one read that, Shawn Adkins, for example, has never been able to bring himself to say these words. 

When the speaker is in the Free Editing Process, he does not stop, pause, and decide slowly and methodically, what words to add in to his sentence:  it goes by quickly.  

"What time is the meeting?" is to be answered immediately, and not via a written statement, nor in consultation with attorneys.  In training, we teach the interviewer to listen, specifically for the social introduction (to indicate quality of relationship) and body posture as unnecessary words to complete the sentence, but included for some reason, known in the intent of the speaker. 

"Honor thy father and thy mother"

Did this verse intend for children to show obedience not only to their parents, but also to school teachers, police officers, and others in society in whom authority is placed? 

The parent teaches obedience so that the parent can say to the child, "Do not go into the street" and while at school, the teacher can say "do not go into the street" and the child can be kept safe from harm, not by the teacher, but by the intent of the instruction previously given.  

 If the intent is there, it must be followed. If intent is not there, there is little sense in instructing children obedience in society, which the absence of such leads to overflowing prisons. But it is an entirely other argument to have that it was written with no clear intent, as if it was written to be forever cloudy, muddy, and not understood. 
What was the original intent of "Honor thy father and mother"?  This is found in a chapter where civil laws are addressed and the principles of societal obedience are addressed, and how our founding fathers had to disobey their covenant with the king, and declare independence due to the king's abdication of his role of protector.  They understood that obedience, itself, was given to be understood and had limitations.  

Was it given to be understood?  Was the intent to confuse, or instruct?  It was given to instruct, as it was to be understood.  

Was the US Constitution set up to confuse its citizens?

This is where some people become 'uncomfortable' in listening carefully to an answer. What causes the lack of comfort?

Often it is the answer, itself, being deceptive, does not 'sit right' with the listener.  This is a good sign.  It means that the listener, is, in fact, listening.  

When one assigns meaning to the words of Amanda Knox, for example, in order to clear her of guilt, they stop listening, and they presuppose that she did not have intention behind her words.  This can be similar to Dennis Dechaine. 

He was found guilty in the death of Sara Cherry, a young girl in Maine, of whom he was in the woods with, assaulted and killed.  He testified that he was alone in the woods and entered the Free Editing Process, and began to talk about the type of trees he saw, admiring them and said, "...and we were losing daylight, so..."

He was supposed to be alone. 
Prosecutors contended that he was with his victim, Sara Cherry. 

In less than a micro-second, he chose the pronoun "we", instead of the pronoun "I"; and we recognize that as an adult, he has used the pronouns "I" and "we" millions of times in life, just as you and I have.  We know what we are doing; we are so good at it, in fact, that it is safe to call pronouns "instinctive" and need no pre-thought.  We trust pronouns.  

The prosecutor said, "Mr. Dechaine, you said, "we"?" and the defense immediately called for a recess.  It took 24 hours to return and make up an excuse, which the jury did not believe.  What was said in less than a microsecond should not need any time to uncover meaning. 


Recall the pronoun "test" of sorts.  

I may struggle to remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, 24 hours ago, but try this 'memory' test:

Tell us something that happened to you that was at least 10 years ago...not 24 hours ago, nor 2 weeks ago, but tell us something that happened to you at least 10 years ago.  

Got your story?


When you begin, it is very likely that you will know whether or not to start your story with the pronoun, "I", because you were alone, or "we", because you were with someone else, or others. 

Chances are, in spite of 10 years of passing time, you will be accurate in your choice of pronoun.  

When you spoke your story, intent was there, to make your statement clear.  There is the presupposition that the story begins with the proper pronoun so that the subject can communicate clearly.  It is spoken for the purpose, or intent, of understanding. 

It is when one denies intent, or purpose, and seeks to remove the intent but, logically, it must be replaced with something. 

This is the error of interpretation and why Statement Analysis, and Analytical Interviewing seeks to avoid it:

Let the subject speak for himself. 

Do not say "this" really meant 'that' and 'that' really meant 'this' to fit agenda.  

Do not conclude 'that is not what he meant to say...'  He has been choosing his own words, every day, of every week, of every month, of every year of his life. 

Pronouns are instinctive, which makes stuttering on a pronoun, by a non-stutterer, so very sensitive, since we are so adept at using pronouns that it is instinctive to us. 


Blaze said...

Great article! I haven’t been around lately so I’m wondering if you guys discussed the President stumbling on the words “innocent people” when addressing the nation re the Boston bombing victims? I think he was reading it off a prepared speech at the time..not sure..

Here’s an old NG interview with BJD where she mentions the search around the Lakes..

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. My question is, in the video, he was smoking dope. He was on a boat. Does he have access to that boat to get it in the water? Because in Colorado City, there are two lakes. And have they dredged those lakes?

GRACE: You know, that’s a good question. To Billie Dunn. Does Shawn Adkins have access to a boat?

BILLIE DUNN: No. I know his grandma used to have that boat. It doesn’t run. And we do have the -- sorry -- the game warden out at the lakes has been looking.

GRACE: You have what at the lake?

BILLIE DUNN: The game wardens.

GRACE: So they have been looking in the lakes. OK.

Also the old 911 call from before the event is there. Does anyone know when that particular call was made? In that call BJD says she just broke up with SA and she is afraid of Shawn going into her home while she is at work because:

GRACE: So tell me why you called 911?

BILLIE DUNN: I called the police station from work because he was threatening -- he was threatening my life. He was saying he was going to come to my house and get a T-shirt. I didn’t want him in here getting anything when I wasn’t here.

“ I didn't want him in here getting anything when I wasn't here.”

Blaze said...

the link..

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Anonymous said...

Info I hadn't ever read or heard before on Holly Bobo's disappearance and her brother' side :

Holly Bobo's brother tells his side of the story - WSMV Channel 4 ...

John Mc Gowan said...
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? said...

Billie's choice of words, "She WENT missing" bothers me. We are to believe that she was abducted but that's not what Billie said. "Went" sounds intention, more like she was a runaway.

What was the other thing that Billie said that about them being so happy until Hailey went and disappeared or something similar? I can't find it.

? said...

intention = intentional

TrishapatK said...

This is the part of that paragraph that is the most confusing to me:

... "which usually winds up being porn of some kind."

Peter, could you please explain that part of the sentence?

Also, thank you for so patiently explaining all of this.

REK said...

my interpretation is that we project a tainted view, one that is "ultimate" in our mind, we search the depths of the possibilities and construct something that reaches all corners of our brain..might not be probable in real life, its more like a "fantasy" of what could be's

? said...

It seems like a perfect place to apply the principles that Peter is speaking of in this lesson. But I'm getting nowhere. What was Peter's intention in those words?

? said...

REK, but in that very paragraph he says "We seek not to interpret, but to listen." I'll take this little nugget off to work with me to chew on during quiet times. :)

REK said...

It seems pretty evident to me that a $exual assault of some sort occurred to Hailey. And BJD was aware of it. BJD claims ( in similar words as I don’t have exact quote handy) “she was not someone’s play thing” Why would a mother EVER say that? (her intent?), also “everyone got what they wanted for Christmas” is an intriguing comment. What was her intent behind this? In her most recent statement she shows she knows pedophilia was involved with the demise of her child.

REK said...

we do seek to listen but we have projectors anyways.. waiting on our wings

? said...

I just realized that I automatically distanced myself from that paragraph until I could understand it when I chose to use "help me understand THAT" rather than THIS. LOL

Statement Analysis Blog said...


that was an error of copy/paste for something else, though as I look back, I was doing the article, while still considering the neglect/abuse in the household of which Hailey Dunn was subjected.

I have fixed it, and I thank you. Peter

REK said...

during part of jodi arias trial, jodi is recalling the trip she made to Monteray before she got to AZ. in one part of her testimony she takls about "we arrived" indiciating another person was with her

dove said...

thanks for the tutorial, I've missed them. it's difficult to be an SA hobbyist & dating.

REK said...

dove, why is it difficult?

Skeptical said...

Two words come to mind when discussing interviewing - Ann Curry. I know she has received a lot of sympathy for being fired. How could NBC fire such a nice lady, etc.? She wasn't hired to be a nice lady. She was hired to be a Today Show anchor A large part of that job was interviewing the guests.

Ann Curry is a good reporter and a terrible interviewer. When it is just Ann Curry and the camera, she does a good job. When she interviews people, her overly empathic emotions interfere with the interview process. The bending forward, the tears in the eyes, the solicitous voice often overwhelm the person being interviewed. I don't know if I am getting what they think or if they are giving the answers Ann Curry wants. She also cannot keep herself from finishing peoples' statements for them. At least after understanding some of the principles of Statement Analysis I know why I found her so crazy-making.

Ann Curry's skills are in reporting, not interviewing.

dove said...

REK, a small amount of knowledge is a dangerous thing. :-) Sometimes dropped pronouns are just pronouns.

I see opportunities to analyze everywhere, not just dating. But admittedly it's not always appropriate.

I'd like to learn more, SA interests me.

Anonymous said...

When considering the Amanda Knox case, consideration must be given to the evidence collected and identified at the scene of the crime. Amanda Knox's DNA was not found on or in the victim, nor was her boyfriends. The DNA that was found on/in the victim's body was identified and it belongs to the man who has admitted his guilt of the crime and is currently imprisoned.
Amanda Knox is guilty of smoking pot and lying. Is she also presupposing guilt of a crime that lacks evidence of her participation?

Anonymous said...

Please tell me they will NOT give Dunn any money they raise!!!!!!!!!!!! I truly hope people in this country have enough common sense NOT to send BJD any money!

I am hearing she wanted to be control of money raised previously for Hailey for search efforts etc.

Sus said...

A bloody footprint on the bathmat was attributed to Rafael. Several footprints in the hall found with luminal were Amanda's. One footprint on the pillow behind Meredith's head was smaller and could have been Amandas. There were 5 spots of blood comingled with Amanda and Meredith's blood...1in the so-called break-in room, the rest in the bathroom. There were many (I believe 19) fingerprints in Meredith's room that could not be identified because they were too smeared.

The only fingerprints found of Amanda in her own home - her own home - were on a glass in the sink.

Also speaking to the physical evidence, I find it eerie that one spot of the co-mingled blood was on a Q-tip box. Amanda spoke of the shower her and Rafael took that night and how Rafael cleaned her ears. She said the shower was at Rafael's home...I'm not so sure.

Dee said...

dove said...
REK, a small amount of knowledge is a dangerous thing. :-) Sometimes dropped pronouns are just pronouns.

I see opportunities to analyze everywhere, not just dating. But admittedly it's not always appropriate.

I'd like to learn more, SA interests me.

I agree it's not always appropriate. Other than being more able to pick out when I'm being lied to, I don't try to analyze things my family or friends say. I'm too close. Being emotionally attached to the person I might get it wrong or on the other hand I also might not like what I see. I'd rather not, unless it's so blatant that it jumps out at me.

Anonymous said...


Amanda has admitted to being a liar. That said, there is no evidence on or in the victims body that suggests that the murder was committed by Amanda or her boyfriend. The DNA found matches the one still imprisoned suspect who admitted to the crime.
I can't discount the possibility that Amanda and her boyfriend may have come back to the apartment stoned and unable to use cognitive cerebral thinking skills after the victim had already been murdered.

Lis said...

dove said...

"thanks for the tutorial, I've missed them. it's difficult to be an SA hobbyist & dating."

Dove, remember that there are different reasons for avoiding the truth. One is covering guilt, but another is preserving other peoples' feelings and is commonly done. For instance, who is going to honestly answer, "does this dress make me look fat?" I remember reading Miss Manners saying a certain type of dishonesty was an important social convention, because if everyone was brutally honest, it would destroy people. And no one expects the whole gory truth when they say "hi, how are you?" But, if you are dating someone who is trying to cover guilt or is being dishonest about their past, it would be a good time to ask yourself if you really want to be in that relationship.

? said...

Thank you Peter for fixing the copy/paste error. I was afraid your site might have been hacked. :)

? said...

I'm glad I didn't have time to spend at work trying to make sense of it but it was the first thing I checked when I got home.

Lynn said...

dove said...

"thanks for the tutorial, I've missed them. it's difficult to be an SA hobbyist & dating."

or a parent of a young adult child making questionable choices. I KNOW that so many people here that have done it for years to not use it with your friends and family. I don't know how not to, when it's obvious though.

Tania Cadogan said...

You're all driving on the wrong side of the road in that pic and the dark spot in the sky looks like a UFO hehe