January 24, 2020
by Kathryn Sanderson
This is a post-session task given after an input on Communicating in Schools, where we were asked to write a post reviewing the chapter of a book we were asked to read entitled “Finding out about others: the skill of questioning” (Hargie, 2011)
The main aim of the chapter is to inform about the diverse range of questioning techniques that are available, and how the answers can vary greatly depending on the mode of questioning method used. This can be used to influence an individual’s opinions and responses to questions. The key themes of the chapter are: communicative behaviours, communication in questioning and goals associated with this, getting what information is required, or not required, from questioning.
An interesting claim made was that of, when you want someone to respond in a particular way (subtle leads), by using carefully chosen wording, the example given “How tall was the basketball player?” the respondent guessed 79 inches. When asked “How short was the basketball player?” respondent guessed 69m inches (Harris, 1973). This would qualify the statement that say that if you want someone to answer a question in order to confirm your own belief, ask it with the wording biased to your own belief.
The idea of the social psychology of questioning in communication skills and the need to elicit as much information on the way people think and behave is an argument presented; people may answer differently when asked questions in a variety of ways depending on what answer they may think is being looked for.
One part of the chapter I did not agree with was regarding leading questions on children in the Orkney Satanic Abuse inquiry. The responses by the child contradicts what is being asserted about leading questions, although the social worker did undoubtedly do this, she did not achieve what she set out to do as the child refused to agree with her.
Some theories and concepts in the chapter included:
Social interaction: the skill of being able to behave a certain way in a certain context, behaving differently with one group than in another group.
Recovered memory: where an event has been buried in memory and has resurfaced, possibly through therapy.
False memory: recalling of events (normally from childhood) that did not occur.
Hargie, O. (2011) Skilled Interpersonal Communication: Research, Theory and Practice. 5th ed. London: Routledge.