Statement Analysis: What Do Suspects’ Words Really Reveal?


Statements contain a wealth of information far beyond what the suspect or alleged victim intends to communicate. Fortunately, investigators can use this information to their benefit. Statement analysis provides investigators with vital background data and details about relationships to explore during the interview process. It also can determine whether the intent of the statement is to convey or to convince, that is, to convey the truth or to convince through deception.7 Armed with this knowledge, investigators can enter the interview room with increased confidence to identify the perpetrator and gain a confession.


1. The Washington Post, November 5, 1994, A15.
2. The Washington Post, July 26, 1995, A7.
3. Udo Undeutsch published this hypothesis in German in 1967. It also was reported in “The Development of Statement Reality Analysis,” Credibility Assessment, ed. John C. Yuille (The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, NATO ASI Series, 1989). The Germans generally are credited with the advancement of statement analysis for investigative purposes. German psychologists devised a system to assess the credibility of statements made by children in child abuse cases. Called criteria-based content analysis, the technique became mandated in German courts in 1954 in cases involving a disputed allegation of sexual abuse of a child.
4. Avinoam Sapir, Scientific Content Analysis (SCAN) (Phoenix, AZ: Laboratory of Scientific Interrogation, 1987), 52.
5. Walter Weintrab, Verbal Behavior in Everyday Life (New York, NY: Springer Publishing Co., 1989), 13.
6. Don Rabon, Investigative Discourse Analysis (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 1994), 17.
7. Ibid., 35.

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