Monday, January 9, 2017
Statement Analysis: Color In Analysis
"Color In Statement Analysis"
by Peter Hyatt
This has come up in recent trainings where analysts correctly identified not only deception but some forensic detail unknown to them at the time of the analysis, that proved accurate.
"Color" is not a separate category in detecting deception. It falls under the category of "unnecessary language", which is only unnecessary for the reader; not for the subject.
When asked "What happened?", the subject:
a. cannot possibly tell us everything
b. must choose what information to give (editing down)
c. must choose what order the information is given (priority)
d. must choose what words to use (psycho-linguistic profile)
e. must choose what tenses of the words to use (commitment)
f. must choose the syntax, or placement of the words in order to make sense. (intention to deceive or be truthful).
This makes an overall statement highly reliable for content analysis, even if it is deceptive. While 9 out of 10 reliable denials are noted, 1 may be the rare outright fabrication of reality. Yet, even this, if it is utterly untrue, still has a genesis that can, and should be traced in the interview. If the subject said,
"I was at Sears in the mall" and it is later proven that at the time of the assault, he was not at Sears nor at the mall, this statement came from somewhere. It is very likely that if this is a fabrication, the subject began his statement with truthful, experiential memory of a different day that he was at Sears at the Mall, intending to deceive the investigators. Although rare, we must still follow through, point by point to learn why he had the need to place himself elsewhere, and even with this, the sentences that follow are likely to reveal relevant information.
Some more advanced liars (high quality lies) end up implicating themselves in other crimes. No one can really lie successfully.
When color is noted in a statement, there are questions that the analyst should pose to himself:
1. Is this an "unnecessary" detail? This is the most important baseline question that will lead to:
2. Why? Why did the subject feel it so important to add in the color of an item?
An example of an ordinary or "non-unnecessary" detail is
"I was driving down Route 84 when a black pick up truck cut me off..."
Although one can argue that the color of the truck is, in deed, a sensory detail likely suggesting personal experience (and veracity), we must be careful because:
Subjects routinely give the color of vehicles in statements and interviews. This is so much so that it is "the expected" within a statement. Even with 'sensory detail' classification, we must temper our assignment of sensitivity, due to context.
Yet, if the question to number one, "Is this an unnecessary detail?" is "yes", we should proceed with two premises:
a. The unnecessary detail is very important (increasing its classification in the analysis)
b. The unnecessary detail is a signal of veracity because "color" is often an indication of personal handling or involvement which is why it enters the recall phase.
Allegation: stolen phone
"I was going to the store anyway, so it's not like you guys are putting this on me. You that you know it is what you guys do to us all the damn time. You think just because we go in ***** ****** (private high-line electronics specialty store at mall) you know you think its like, man, these people must be stealing. We are so fucking sick of this shit you don't know. I didn't steal nothing from nobody. Fucking thing goes missing and right away you know who to accuse. I didn't so no fancy blue damn phone anyway, so its like you need to look elsewhere."
That the subject felt the need to justify or explain his presence at the store (hina clause) tells us that he, himself, is very concerned about himself being there. No one asked him why he was at the store. This strongly suggests:
He anticipated being asked why he was at the store and wanted to address it now, and not wait until the investigator asked.
What makes this even more sensitive is that it is not even guaranteed that the investigator would have even thought of the question "Why were you here?" since shopping at this mall is normal, though the private store may not be. This may heighten the timing and location for the subject.
Next, even a casual observation would recognize that the subject has a very strong need to delay getting to the point of the investigation: theft. This is not a true "victim status mentality" but a ready to use delay tactic. Psychologically, he does not want to "arrive" at the specific detail of the theft.
He has already given "unreliable denials", which does not mean he is lying, it means that the classification of the denial is (0) Neutral, rather than Reliable (+) or Deceptive (-) in rating.
It is noted, as the analyst moves through the statement, however, which will suggest some personality traits as the analyst is considering, if he is deceptive, the "quality of liar" the subject may be.
That the phone was "blue" is an unnecessary detail, coming after the unnecessary need to explain why he was at the store (suggesting premeditation), the unreliable denials, and the stalling technique.
It is a strong indication that the subject, himself, has intimate knowledge of the phone, and likely even handled it himself.
Question: What if he, and everyone there, knew it was a blue phone?
Answer: If this came in the free editing process, the principle remains the same.
Question: What if the investigator, prior to this part of his statement, mentioned the color?
Answer: Then the sensitivity is reduced; it is too easy for the subject to parrot back the language, and the analyst should not give it weightiness.
This is why the investigator/interview relies upon legally sound, open ended questions to begin the interview and seeks, whether possible, to avoid introducing new language.
If the investigator did not introduce the color, given the signals of deception already noted, it is very likely that the thief is not only caught, but that he physically handled the stolen item.
1. Always note color in a statement, for possible sensory description.
2. Sensory description is often a signal of personal experience. It does not mean that it happened now in the statement, but it happened at some point in the subject's life.
3. If color is unnecessary it is deemed very important.
4. Most vehicle identification is commonly done with color.
5. If unnecessary color enters a statement in the free editing process (without the influence of the interviewer), it is a strong signal of personal handling of an item.
6. Color in theft should be considered a strong indication of probable guilt.
7. The analysis conclusion is not based upon any single point but the conclusion must suggest itself.
8. Do not be led astray by distractions (above, the "victim status mentality") but note the need to lead astray.
9. Always be open to assessing the quality of a lie, to reveal the sophistication and comfort level a subject has with deception.
To enroll in training at your department, business, or in your home, visit Hyatt Analysis Services.