We at 50 Good Deeds like to use our powers of kindness for good, not evil. But researchers in the psychology department at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg have shared some interesting findings about kindness and interrogation tactics. They say that people are more likely to give up information when interrogators appear friendly and considerate, as opposed to direct questioning.
In layman’s language, you’ll attract more flies with sugar, not vinegar. In their recent study, the Swedish researchers used what’s known as the “Scharff technique.” This is named after a German Nazi interrogator who successfully obtained secret information from a military prisoner by befriending him, bringing him on a scenic walk and even sharing homemade treats. No torture chambers here.
I will say this, though. Hanns Scharff truly did seem like a genuinely nice guy. He pushed his government to drop war crime charges against a group of captured pilots, possibly saving them from death sentences. Other tales abound of his legendary kindness.
So perhaps the lesson here is not that you should fake being nice in order to trick people. Maybe, instead, it’s that you ought to inject kindness into every job you do, no matter if you’re a teacher or a doctor or an officer of the Third Reich. It will pay off, whether it’s curing someone’s cancer or, uh, supporting the Hitler regime.
My job for the next two weeks is to take a summer vacation. I will be sure to inject kindness into it. I think I’ll start by generously pouring myself a mojito. That’s nice, isn’t it? See you later this month.