The Use of the Term Rapport in the Investigative Interviewing Literature: A critical Examination of Definitions


  • David A. Neequaye University of Gothenburg
  • Erik Mac Giolla University of Gothenburg



definitions, rapport, investigative interviewing, source, suspect, victim, witness


Researchers typically note that there is much divergence about how rapport is defined in the investigative interviewing literature. We examined the scope of this divergence, the commonalities of extant definitions, and how the current state of affairs impacts the scientific investigation of rapport. We obtained 228 publications that discussed rapport in an investigative interviewing context. Only thirty-two publications (14 %) explicitly defined rapport. Twenty-two of those definitions were unique. All of the definitions implied that rapport centers on the quality of the interviewer-interviewee interaction. However, the definitions ascribed different attributes when describing more specifically how rapport relates to the quality of interpersonal interactions. A thematic analysis revealed six major attributes by which rapport could be characterized. The attributes were communication, mutuality, positivity, respect, successful outcomes, and trust. These attributes were disparately distributed across the definitions. Based on the considerable disparity in its definitions, we question the theoretical and practical value of the term rapport. The current situation creates ambiguity about the meaning of rapport and impedes its objective assessment. To avoid further ambiguity, we believe the field must collectively determine a finite set of attributes to denote the term rapport. Until those attributes are determined, stakeholders should stop indiscriminately using the word rapport to describe any collection of attributes of the interviewer-interviewee interaction.


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