by John Bowden
Director of APTAC at
Origionally published at

Encarta Dictionary defines behavior as, “The way something behaves.”  Analysis is defined as, “The examination of something in detail in order to understand it better or draw conclusions from it.” Behavioral analysis is simply the observation of behavior and then analyzing that behavior to determine its meaning.  In the process of observing behavior we make the following assumption.  In living organisms there is a “cause” which is the impetus of the “behavior” — that behavior has a “purpose or meaning.”

In observing this process, we try to determine the connection from “cause” to “behavior” to “purpose or meaning.”  The cause can be initiated either internally or externally.  Hunger would be an internal cause.  This would cause the behavior of seeking food.  The purpose of the behavior is to obtain food for consumption.  An external cause would be a speeding car approaching a person in a cross walk.  The behavior would be to move out of the way.  The purpose would be for survival.  Knowing the cause of the behavior can reveal the internal, mental processing of the subject.  For instance, you inform a subject that you know they are the one that committed the offense.  When we say this, the subject jumps from the seat of the chair and immediately sits back down. That behavior is caused by the adrenaline rush caused by shock of the accusation. The meaning of the behavior helps to confirm that this subject is the perpetrator.

Behavioral Analysis gives us the “cause” of the “behavior” as well as the “purpose” or the “meaning.”  Knowing the cause and the meaning can guide our investigation.

Throughout history researchers have studied behavior trying to analyze the cause and effect of human behavior.  It has been studied by researchers in psychology, sociology, criminology, anthropology, management and other fields of study. Behavioral Analysis is used in a variety of occupations.  The business community uses behavioral analysis in the screening of new employees.  They ask business related questions and analyze the responses of the potential employees.  It is used by promotion boards to determine the best candidate for advancement.  Psychologists and psychiatrists use it in the treatment of their patients.  The FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit uses it to evaluate the behavior of psychopathic and sociopathic criminals to determine their personal characteristics to aid in their identification and capture.

Coordinated Behavioral Response
In interviews and interrogations the classic use of behavioral analysis is to determine the truth or deception of a subject’s responses.  If a person is telling the truth they did not commit the offense.  If they are deceptive they are the perpetrator, had a part in the offense or know the perpetrator.  This is a valuable tool in the arsenal of the investigator — it is only one of many uses of behavioral analysis.  The analysis of a person’s behavior tells us more than if they are guilty or innocent. A subject’s behavior informs us of the subject’s state of mind — do they like or dislike us — do they like or dislike other people in the case: are they holding back — are they ready to confess — are they trying to make an admission — are they ready to or want to leave — as well as other states of mind.  This knowledge of their state of mind can guide us in our response to their behavior.  Our response is specifically calculated to match up with the subject’s mental state in order to obtain the information about the case leading to its resolution.  This response is called a Coordinated Behavioral Response.


Further information on this subject is available in the text “Interview to Confession, The Art of the Gentle Interrogation” written by John Bowden and Michael E. Lane, Published by APTAC Publishing