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The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context

On-line version ISSN 1989-4007Print version ISSN 1889-1861


JUNE DANDO, Coral  and  ERIC OXBURGH, Gavin. Empathy in the field: towards a taxonomy of empathic communication in information gathering interviews with suspected sex offenders. The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context [online]. 2016, vol.8, n.1, pp.27-33. ISSN 1989-4007.

Research suggests that those suspected of sexual offending might be more willing to reveal information about their crimes if interviewers display empathic behaviour. However, the literature concerning investigative empathy is in its infancy, and so as yet is not well understood. This study explores empathy in a sample of real-life interviews conducted by police officers in England with suspected sex offenders. Using qualitative methodology, the presence and type of empathic verbal behaviours displayed was examined. Resulting categories were quantitatively analysed to investigate their occurrence overall, and across interviewer gender. We identified four distinct types of empathy, some of which were used significantly more often than others. Female interviewers displayed more empathic behaviour per se by a considerable margin.

Keywords : Sex Offenders; Investigative Interviewing; Empathy; Information gathering.

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