The use of self-disclosure to build rapport with mock covert human intelligence sources (CHIS)

Marin, Adelina and Gabbert, Fiona. 2023. The use of self-disclosure to build rapport with mock covert human intelligence sources (CHIS). Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism, 18(2), pp. 158-173. ISSN 1833-5330 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The use of covert human intelligence sources for the protection of national security is an important but under-researched area. In light of increased globalisation, and technological developments, examining covert intelligence gathering online may have operational relevance. This study examined the use of similarities in self disclosure to develop rapport with mock covert human intelligence sources online. A sample of 66 participants were asked to assume the role of a CHIS, listen to an audio recording of a meeting of the criminal network they are part of, and strike a balance between being forthcoming to their handler while at the same time not revealing all information they possessed. They were then interviewed online by a mock handler who opened the conversation in one of three ways: self-disclosing information that highlighted similarities between herself and the CHIS, self disclosing information that highlighted dissimilarities, or control (no disclosure). Participants completed a follow-up rapport questionnaire based on their interaction with the handler. The study found that mock sources rated rapport higher in the similarities condition in comparison with other conditions; however, it did not translate into a significant difference in the intelligence reported. The findings of this research and its policy and practice implications are discussed.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


covert human intelligence sources, CHIS, informers, rapport, self-disclosure

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Forensic Psychology Unit


27 July 2022Accepted
8 August 2022Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

16 Sep 2022 10:41

Last Modified:

17 Apr 2023 13:47

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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