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Digital disputation: Kristina Kepinska Jakobsen

Kristina Kepinska Jakobsen will be defending the thesis  Objectivity and empathy in investigative interview of victims for the degree of Ph.D.

Original title:  Objektivitet og empati i avhør av fornærmede  - en kvalitativ undersøkelse av norske politiavhør

The disputation will be held in Norwegian.

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Kristina Kepinska Jakobsen

Copyright: PHS

The disputation will be digital and streamed directly using Zoom. You can download zoom or use your browser.

Participate at the disputation HERE

Digital version of the thesis can be ordered by e-mail to:

Trial lecture 

Adjudication committee

  • Professor Vidar Halvorsen (leader)
  • Professor Malin Åkerström (1. opponent)
  • Senior lectorer Harriet Jakobsson Öhrn  (2. opponent) 

Chair of defence

Vice dean Vibeke Blaker Strand 


  • Professor Liv Finstad 


Objectivity and empathy in investigative interview of victims

For the police, the aim of an investigative interview is to obtain a detailed and reliable account from the interviewee while remaining objective. At the same time, police interviews are interpersonal meetings between two people, and in police training programmes it is underlined that detectives should strive to establish rapport with interviewees and display empathy. The results indicate that detectives may experience a dilemma between the demand of objectivity and that of empathy when interviewing victims.

The thesis consists of a book chapter, and three empirical articles whose data come from a large-scale study “The Terror Attack 22 July: Experiences and Reactions among Utøya Survivors,” conducted by the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies. The data set consists of 20 video recordings of police interviews with 20 young traumatized victims who were on Utøya on 22 July 2011, and of 18 research interviews with the detectives who conducted the police interviews. 

‘Objective information gatherers’ and ‘a fellow human being’ 

In the three empirical articles, I and my co-authors have analyzed how detectives define their role as investigators and how they practice objectivity and empathy. 
Several of the detectives defined themselves as ‘objective information gatherers’ and their primary task as ‘collecting reliable information’ to support the investigation. At the same time, the detectives wanted to be ‘a fellow human being’ and display empathy. One way of dealing with the two conflicting demands is a phased-bound support. That means that the detective can be an ‘empathetic fellow human being’ in the beginning and end of the investigative interview, and an ‘objective information gatherers’, when the conversation is about the criminal offence. 

The results show that the requirement of objectivity can constrain the detective’s ability to comment on the victim’s explanation. In some cases this can make the detectives seem distant during the interview. At the same time, there were many examples of the detectives showing understanding of the victim’s situation and displaying interest in the victim as a person.

Implication for the field of practice 

The findings in this PhD thesis have the following implications for police’s interview training and professional practice: victims as a group should be given more attention in the training of detectives in conducting investigative interviews. This implies a clearer focus on victims’ experiences of procedural justice and an increased awareness of how central concepts such as objectivity and empathy can be operationalized in interviewing practice.



Published June 2, 2021 4:24 PM - Last modified Mar. 13, 2022 12:58 AM