I recently learned about an interrogation technique developed by psychologists to elicit confessions. It’s called “ice-boxing,” and it’s quite simple. An interviewee is placed in a very cold room for about thirty minutes before the interview takes place. Typically, the temperature in the room is set to about fifty-two degrees Fahrenheit. This is done through precise air-conditioning controls. The subject is also to sit directly below the air-conditioning vent so that the cool air blows right on his or her body. The subject shouldn’t move too much during this time since the extra body heat produced from movement could counter the effects of the extreme air-conditioning; the idea is to cool the subject into alertness, which, according to the theory behind the experiment, prevents deception. After about half an hour of still sitting in the cool room, the interviewer should enter and prepare to question the subject. The interviewer should be older than the subject and should exhibit some authority in his or her position. Police officers in uniform, medical doctors in white coats, lawyers in suits are all suitable authority figures. Men are preferable to women and men of higher stature are preferable to men of smaller stature. The interviewer should offer the subject a curt, firm greeting and provide a cup of ice-cold water. The interviewer should insist with some force that the subject drink the water before the interview begins. As the interview begins, the air-conditioning should be lowered further to about forty-eight degrees Farhenheit. The room should feel frigid. The air streaming from the air-conditioning system shouldn’t be forceful, however. It should just be extremely cool. At this point, the subject should be uncomfortable, but alert and ready to talk.

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