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The VIEW Questionnaire

[Verbal Inquiry - the Effective Witness]

The VIEW Questionnaire is a structured questionnaire based on the SCAN Technique (Scientific Content Analysis).  The VIEW Questionnaire presents the SCAN Technique in a ready-to-use form.

The VIEW Questionnaire, developed by Mr. Avinoam Sapir, dramatically increases the efficiency of the interviewer, by enabling the interviewer to determine the facts of the case, and to assess the reliability of the information, before the actual encounter with the person.

By turning the interview into a written format, the interviewer can break the barrier of time and place.  Thus, the VIEW Questionnaire can be sent by mail (or fax) to the people involved, and they can send their responses the same way. By doing so, the interviewer will eliminate the need to talk with the bulk of truthful people, and to be able to concentrate on the few who are "possibles" (or suspects) for having committed the crime.

The SCAN technique, and the VIEW Questionnaire which is based upon SCAN, have been used in the solution of many cases by law enforcement officers.  The contribution of the SCAN technique was decisive in solving these cases by identifying the suspect and securing the truth.

The open questions of the VIEW Questionnaire, analyzed by the SCAN technique, allow you to obtain the maximum of information.  The combination of these two is equally useful when interviewing witnesses and sources as well as suspects.

The VIEW Questionnaire in its basic form is included in the LSI Course on SCAN.  

History of the VIEW Questionnaire

The VIEW Questionnaire was developed for the first time in 1984 for a survey done by Army CID in cases in which soldiers came out positive on the urinanalysis test (=traces of drugs were found in their bodies.)

These soldiers requested to take the polygraph in order to show that there is some mistake in the results of the test.  Please note that the urinanalysis test has been scientifically proven to be 99.99% accurate.  Thus, probabilities determined that the sample of soldiers in the CID survey was 99.99% deceptive.

These soldiers were requested to fill out the questionnaire, developed by Mr. Avinoam Sapir.  The questionnaire consisted of open questions, and the person was asked to write down his answers the way he/she saw fit.  The principles behind the questionnaire were the same ones which guide the process of Scientific Content Analysis (SCAN), but the structure of the questionnaire transformed the frontal interview into a written format.

The soldiers wrote their answers and the results were sent to headquarters without the polygrapher knowing the results of the questionnaire.

As the first round of questionnaires (100) were collected from different CID offices around the world, the results were compared to the polygraph results.

When the 100 questionnaires were analyzed, 1 person was found to be truthful.  This same person was also found to be truthful by the polygraph.

It was also found that the rate on "inconclusive results" by polygraph dropped from 5% to 1% for people who had previously completed the questionnaire - thus the use of the questionnaire prepares the person for further questioning and "sharpens" the results obtained later.

The most striking results were that 28% of the people who answered the questions on the questionnaire produced incriminating responses in their answers.

Since 1984 the VIEW Questionnaire has been used in many other cases, such as:  theft, murder, arson, rape, etc.  At the same time, the SCAN technique was improved and a manual was developed which enables everyone to systematically analyze the answers on the questionnaire.

Frequently Asked Questions about the VIEW Questionnaire

Q.    What is the difference between the VIEW Questionnaire and all the other pen-and-pencil tests?

A.    The pen and pencil tests are psychological tests which come to tell you if the subject "could have" committed the crime.  These tests don't tell you if the person actually did commit the crime.  However, in an investigation we are not interested in the question of whether the subject could have done it, but with another question - Did he or didn't he?  The VIEW Questionnaire is based upon the SCAN (Scientific Content Analysis) technique, which analyzes the person's own words.  VIEW does not take into consideration the person, his background, personality, nationality, etc.  Only the person's language is being taken into consideration.  The VIEW Questionnaire comes to replace the human interviewer and to expedite the preliminary interview - the collection of information stage.

Q.     But wouldn't a human interviewer gain more information by being able to notice the person's facial expression and other body language symptoms?

A.     In a recent issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology a research was published showing that people are more truthful to a computer than to a human interviewer.  One possible answer is that when one has to face a human interviewer, one might be ashamed of exposing intimate knowledge.  However, while answering a computer (or a questionnaire) one does not see anybody in front of him.

    One more point.  Body language does not amount to evidence, while what the person writes can be used as legitimate evidence in the case.

Q.     What is the validity of the VIEW Questionnaire?

A.     In a survey done by Army CID, soldiers who came out positive on the urinanalysis test were requested to fill out the VIEW Questionnaire.  From a group of 100 people, the VIEW Questionnaire cleared one person as truthful.  That same person also came out truthful by the polygraph.  Interestingly enough, around 28% of the people who filled out the questionnaire produced incriminating responses in their open answers.

    Many people who studied the SCAN technique, and are applying it on their job, report that SCAN is equivalent to polygraph, if not better than that.  The VIEW Questionnaire applies SCAN in a ready-to-use form.

Q.     But polygraph results are more or less accepted by the professional community while the VIEW Questionnaire is unknown.  How can I defend the results of the VIEW Questionnaire to my bosses?

A.     When one analyzes the answers to the open questions on the VIEW Questionnaire one does not "interpret" the answers.  Instead we use only what the person said, and mainly what the person didn't say.  VIEW points out the evidence expressed by the person's own words.  Once this evidence is exposed, it is apparent to everyone; a report based upon the VIEW Questionnaire does not usually have to be "defended".

    However, the VIEW Questionnaire is not used to determine anyone's fate.  Rather, it is a screening process which guides the user concerning whom to interview.  It should not be used to independently determine a certain person as "deceptive".

    The purpose of VIEW is to shorten the investigation process by collecting information from both suspects and witnesses, while at the same time pointing out the most probable suspects.  VIEW has the added advantage that it is non-threatening and non-accusatory, and therefore does not cause resentment among the people who answer it.

Q.     How should I explain the questionnaire to the people who have to take it?

A.     The questionnaire is self-explanatory, so there is not much to explain.  Let's say that there is an incident on the job - for example, a theft.  At this point you can go and interview all the people in order to get the information as to what happened.  Or, you can administer the questionnaire, which will enable you to not only get the preliminary facts, but at the same time, to narrow down from many possible suspects to a very few.

Q.     Do I need to interview the people before giving them the questionnaire?

A.     On the contrary.  It is recommended not to interview anybody before administering the questionnaire.  In fact, the questionnaire itself replaces the preliminary interview.  However, unlike the interview, which leaves a lot of space for differences between different interviewees, the questionnaire structures all the interviews into one format, and enables you to compare between people.

Q.     Wouldn't it take time to administer the questionnaire and delay the investigation?

A.     Not at all.  By administering the questionnaire as a first step, you are saving yourself a lot of time in the long run.  Before you talk with people, you guide yourself concerning how to approach them.  One of the students of the SCAN course equated taking a statement from a subject before the interview to playing cards with somebody.  However, before you start to play, you ask your opponent to show you his cards.  And then you start a "fair game".

Q.     Do I have to be present during the time the person answers the questionnaire?

A.     Not at all.  You can give the person the questionnaire and ask him to fill it out at his leisure, and to return it to you when he is finished.

Q.     Is there any importance to the physical setting (room, location, etc.) in which the person writes his answers?

A.     No. There is no connection between the circumstances in which the questionnaire is given and the way the answers are analyzed.  The answers are analyzed independently of the person who wrote them and the physical setting.

Q.     Wait a minute.  You want to tell me that the person can go home and take the questionnaire with him?

A.     Yes.  Moreover, you can send the person the questionnaire by mail or by fax, and he can return it to you by mail (or fax).  It has already been done in the past and was very effective.

Q.     But if the person will take the questionnaire home he might consult a lawyer or another person, and then his answers wouldn't be his own answers.

A.     This is also not a problem, as long as the person "claims" that the answers on the questionnaire are his own answers.  The SCAN technique has already been used to analyze affidavits in civil suits which were prepared with the help of lawyers.

Q.     Is there a different questionnaire for a witness and a "suspect"?

A.     No.  There is only one questionnaire.  The underlying assumption is that everyone is a witness, thus the non-accusatory tone of the questionnaire.

Q.     What do I do with a person with a low IQ or poor grammar?

A.     IQ and language skills are not a factor in analyzing the answers.  The VIEW Questionnaire has already been administered to people from all different levels of education.  The SCAN technique does not use the level of language but looks into changes in the language of the same person.

Q.     What do I do with a person who doesn't know English?

A.     Again, the level of proficiency in the language is not a serious factor.  If the person talks simple English, then we can use the SCAN technique.  It would be a little more difficult, but still possible.  However, if the person does not talk the language at all, the VIEW Questionnaire can be translated into the person's language and analyzed accordingly.  The SCAN technique has been used successfully in several foreign languages.

Obtaining the VIEW Questionnaire

The VIEW Questionnaire is included in the LSI Basic Course on SCAN, and can also be purchased separately in the LSI VIEW Guidebook.