How do you persuade a terrorist to ‘spill the beans’?


Professor Laurence Alison is Director of the Centre for Critical and Major Incident Psychology at the University. He is an expert in interrogation techniques:

“The more pressure you put on a person, the less likely they are to speak to you. You need to make them feel responsible for their choices.

“You can’t bullsh*t, you’ve got to mean it. (For example) ‘Ian, you don’t have to speak to me today. Whether you do or not isn’t up to me. It isn’t up to your solicitor. It’s up to you.’

“These are powerful tools to get inside someone’s head. But they’re not tricks. You have to be genuinely curious. There’s a reason this person has ended up opposite you, and it’s not just because they’re evil. If you’re not interested in what that is, you’re not going to be a good interrogator.”

The full article, entitled ‘The scientists persuading terrorists to spill their secrets’, has been published in The Guardian’s ‘long read’ section and can be found here.

The University of Liverpool Podcast entitled ‘Interrogations – Why respect gets results’ (episode 11) that features a lengthy interview with Laurence can be found here.

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