Tags: Law Enforcement | good cop | bad cop | psychology

What's Psychology Behind 'Good Cop, Bad Cop' Phrase?

By    |   Monday, 29 Jun 2015 04:48 PM

"Good Cop/Bad Cop means there's two bad cops,” producer Bernie Brillstein wrote in his book “It’s All Lies, and That’s The Truth.” Even though his book is about Hollywood, Brillstein appears to have caught onto the psychological point of the “good cop, bad cop” technique: manipulation.

Despite its exaggerated and often comical Hollywood stereotype, “good cop, bad cop” is a real interrogation technique used to coerce suspects to confess. The suspect is first intimidated and threatened by a harsh, uncompromising cop and, if the suspect cannot be forced into confession, is presented with a more comforting officer who makes the suspect feel as though they can, or should, confide in them.

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The “good cop, bad cop” interrogation technique originated from the Reid Technique, which was published and taught in numerous interrogation seminars by John E. Reid and Associates in 1974. The Reid Technique relies on three main psychological tactics to evoke a confession from a suspected criminal: isolation, maximization and minimization.

The first of these tactics is isolation. During an interrogation, suspects are usually placed in a room alone where their friends, family or accomplices cannot help them. Isolation is the psychological backing for the stereotypical windowless interrogation rooms.

Maximization is the second tactic, also known as the “bad cop.” This tactic attempts to heighten the suspect’s fear level to force them to confess. The “bad cop” is unrelenting and acts as though the police already know what happened and that the respondent is lying about their alleged innocence. Maximization ultimately aims to intimidate the suspect through fear.

The final psychological basis for the “good cop, bad cop” technique is minimization. Minimization is the “good cop” portion of the interrogation process during which the law enforcement officer pretends to sympathize or ally with the suspect. Because maximization has already made it clear to the suspect that the alleged criminal activity is already known, the “good cop” tries to convince the suspect that it is in his or her best interest to minimize the damages. If the suspect confesses, the “good cop” suggests that they will get to go home and may even get a lighter sentencing.

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Good Cop/Bad Cop means there's two bad cops," producer Bernie Brillstein wrote in his book "It's All Lies, and That's The Truth." Even though his book is about Hollywood, Brillstein appears to have caught onto the psychological point of the "good cop, bad cop" technique: manipulation.
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Monday, 29 Jun 2015 04:48 PM
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