5 Hallmark Tactics CIA Psychologists Use


Whether you’re interested in joining the Central Intelligence Agency or looking to get your foot in the water as an intern following law enforcement graduate school, there are numerous tactics that may soon be night and day for you.

The following five counterintelligence techniques (except for the last one) are proven to be effective for any agent working with the CIA.

5. Elicitation Technique

Elicitation technique works by drawing conversation to extract information from someone, but without giving them the feeling that they’re being interrogated.

If an interview is not on the table, then observation of naturally occurring behavior would be the best shot. This technique is common and works fairly well for general information gathering, criminal profiling and business analysis.

4. Assumed Knowledge

This technique involves pretending to have knowledge or associations in relation to the person, which would aid in gathering more information. The point is to seem convincing that you already know everything about the suspect and their clear motives.

Assumed knowledge is utilized in the field of forensic psychology to help suspects break their silence and get a solid confession.

3. Can You Top This?

It’s simple. The game goes: Try and come up with the most extreme story in hopes that the other person will want to top it. But will it initiate a confession? It’s worked well in the past.

2. Feigned Ignorance

This tactic has been done by many people without them even realizing it. However, it is extremely effective at gathering more information from an individual.

The technique goes like this: Pretend to be ignorant of a topic in order exploit that person’s tendency to educate. In due time, the person would ‘overeducate’, thus spilling out more than enough information.

1. Waterboarding

The most controversial psychological tactic practiced by the CIA — waterboarding. It involves placing a wet towel over a suspect’s face and drowning them using a large container of cold water.

This tactic is typically repeated until the suspect breaks their silence. Its usage has sparked massive media attention which resulted in it being banned.

As Jesse Ventura once said: “You give me a water board, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I’ll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.”

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Jose Florez is the founder of Mental Daily. His work has appeared in Psychology Today, Glamour, The Huffington Post, Elite Daily, among others. He is currently studying psychology.