Using the "scarcity of time" ploy

Advertisers well understand the power of the “limited-time offer” in motivating consumers to take action. You often can use the same psychology to influence the behavior of suspects.

Cst. Dan Fraser, an instructor in strategic communications for the Calgary (Alberta) Police Service, explained how this works during a class on verbal manipulation at the ILEETA annual training conference and elaborated later during an interview with Police1.

“The key is to create a sense of urgency in the subject to cooperate with you by leading him to believe that time is running out before things get worse for him,” Fraser says. “In other words, there’s a window of opportunity that’s closing, so it’s important to act now. This draws on the principle that when there seems to be less and less of something — time, in this case — it becomes more valuable to take advantage of.

“Say, for example, that you’re dealing with a suspect who’s hiding in a shed. He doesn’t want to come out, and you don’t want to go in after him. You might tell him that K9 is on the way or SWAT is on the way and let him know he has the best chance of avoiding injury if he surrenders to you before they get there.”

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