Rapport in a Non-WEIRD Multicultural Society: A Qualitative Analysis in Southeast Asia

Ng, Magdalene; Chung, Kai Li; Tee, Eugene and Gabbert, Fiona. 2023. Rapport in a Non-WEIRD Multicultural Society: A Qualitative Analysis in Southeast Asia. Investigative Interviewing Research & Practice, ISSN 2227-7420 [Article] (Forthcoming)

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Abstract or Description

A body of research suggests that taking steps to build rapport facilitates cooperation in several contexts, including investigative interviewing. However, most of the available research exploring rapport and its antecedents in investigative contexts has relied on Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) samples. Cultural nuances, if not understood or acknowledged, can cause rapid deterioration of rapport in interpersonal interactions. Our research, conducted with N = 32, used a qualitative methodology to investigate the Malaysian culture as a framework for understanding rapport-building in a non-WEIRD sample. Analysis inferred that while Malaysians conceptualise rapport very similarly to what we know in the Western literature, there are important differences in how they exhibit rapport and how rapport materialises. Four themes are discussed, reflecting idiosyncrasies in the themes. We find that rapport in Malaysia is culturally sensitive and culturally bound, in that the ‘usual’ pace of rapport exhibited in Western countries is not indigenised in Malaysia. We provide recommendations that can help personalise the way interactions such as investigative interviews and negotiations can be steered with suspects, victims, eyewitnesses, and hostage takers from this culture.

Item Type:



rapport, investigative interviewing, non-WEIRD, forensic interviewing, qualitative

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Forensic Psychology Unit


10 February 2023Accepted

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

20 Feb 2023 14:06

Last Modified:

07 Jun 2023 00:11

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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