Investigative Decision Making: Interviews with Detectives

Elpiniki Spanoudaki, Maria Ioannou, John Synnott, Kalliopi Tzani Pepelasi, Ntaniella Pylarinou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore investigative decision-making processes in the context of major crimes as experienced by the law enforcement agents. Design/methodology/approach: Episodic interviews were conducted with six agents from medium-sized police forces in the UK. Following the framework of naturalistic inquiry, qualitative content analysis took place with the assistance of Atlas.ti software. To ensure the validity of findings, the within method triangulation was preferred, by additionally analysing the interview transcripts with Alceste. Findings: Findings from this study revealed a variety of internal factors at play, shaping the decision-making course into an act of balancing various desired goals. Detectives appear to assess a situation based on their experiences confirming that the naturalistic decision-making model may assist in understanding investigative decision-making. Research limitations/implications: Due to the busy schedule of law enforcement agents the number of participants was limited and availability difficult; therefore, this study can be thought of as a pilot study that will inspire researchers to use the same method for in-depth understanding of investigative decision-making. Practical implications: Results captured the ill-defined goals in the police environment and provided ways of decreasing their impact on investigative decision-making thus should help detectives to understand their decision-making limitations and strengths. Social implications: This project will enhance the psychological understanding of investigative decision-making. Originality/value: This project assists in understanding the psychological aspect of investigative decision-making during police duty and provides the opportunity to law enforcement agents to re-evaluate situations in order to improve the investigative decision-making process; while adds to existing literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-107
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Criminal Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2019


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