The question of question types in police interviews: A review of the literature from a psychological and linguistic perspective.


  • Gavin Eric Oxburgh University of Teesside
  • Trond Myklebust Norwegian Police University College
  • Tim Grant Aston University



investigative interviews, question typologies, legal language


The past two decades has seen a plethora of papers and academic research conducted on investigative interviews with victims, witnesses and suspected offenders, with a particular focus on questioning techniques and typologies. However, despite this research, there still remain significant discrepancies amongst academic researchers and practitioners over how best to describe types of questions. This article considers the available literature relating to interviews with children and adults from both a psychological and linguistic perspective. In particular, we examine how different types of questions are described, and explore the discrepancies between competing definitions.

Author Biographies

Gavin Eric Oxburgh, University of Teesside

Gavin is a Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology at Teesside University. He has presented his research at various national and international conferences and has published research articles in various international journals. He is the Chair and founding member of the International Investigative Interviewing research Group (iIIRG), a research group developed to enhance research-based practice and practice-based research. Gavin is also an independent academic consultant to a US Government Research Group on educing information

Trond Myklebust, Norwegian Police University College

Trond Myklebust is a Detective Chief Superintendant at the Norwegian Police University College, Oslo, currently conducting his PhD in psychology at the University of Oslo. His main research area is investigative interviewing and has published his research in various journals and presented at international conferences. He also holds an Honorary Lecturship at Teesside University and is one of the founding members of the International Investigative Interviewing Research Group (iIIRG).

Tim Grant, Aston University

Dr Tim Grant has qualifications in both linguistics and psychology and is particularly interested in the interaction between forensic linguistics and forensic psychology. He is Deputy Director of the Centre for Forensic Linguistics at Aston University and teaches undergraduate and postgraduate courses in forensic linguistics. As well as the police interview his main research interests concerns forensic authorship analysis. He publishes in both psychology and linguistics journals. His consultancy has largely involved the analysis of abusive and threatening communications in many different contexts including investigations into sexual assaults, murder and terrorist offences. It has also included cases of copyright infringement and academic plagiarism.



How to Cite

Oxburgh, G. E., Myklebust, T., & Grant, T. (2010). The question of question types in police interviews: A review of the literature from a psychological and linguistic perspective. International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law, 17(1), 45–66.