Compare and contrast structural interviewing and forensic hypnosis. 

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Structural interviewing and forensic hypnosis interviewing are, at the most obvious level, completely unlike each other.

  • Structural interviewing is most often used in business situations, although it may be used in criminology interviewing situations as well, although it is less well adapted to criminal investigations. In contrast, forensic hypnosis interviewing is especially well adapted to criminal investigations and is not at all suited to business interviewing situations.
  • Structural interviewing depends upon questioning and answering that is engaged in between two fully conscious and cooperating persons. In contrast, forensic hypnosis interviewing depends upon the skills of a trained hypnotist who induces a "state of increased receptivity to suggestion" in an interviewee who is "characterized by an altered state of consciousness" (Dr. Jerome Beacham interviewed by Robert F. Otto). In these primary regards, structured interviewing and forensic hypnosis are in complete contrast to each other. Yet there are some similarities through which they compare to each other.


  • Both methods are structured to obtain the best results.
  • Both are attempts to uncover objective information.
  • Both might be used in criminal investigation (although structural interviewing is less effective because of the uniformity of the structured questions).


Structured Interviewing

  • Questions are aimed at obtaining personal information relevant to the situation in which it is being used, usually in human resources settings for hiring purposes.
  • All interviewees are asked the same questions for uniformity of outcome.
  • Questions have specific aims, for example, in hiring situations, the aims are related to job description, skills relevant to job performance and actual past behavior in job settings.

Forensic Hypnosis Interviewing

  • Question are to refresh memory of past (recent or long past) events.
  • Interviewees are in a state of altered consciousness that ranges from "very light to very deep and usually includes relaxation and increased awareness" (Dr. Jerome Beacham to Robert F. Otto).
  • Interviewees will be asked very personalized questions relevant to a specific past event or occurrence.
  • Questions have specific aims, but these are related to personal experiences the interviewee has had or witnessed the details of which are important to some investigation, primarily to a criminal investigation.