By-pass The Critical Factor To The Confession
by John Bowden
In the interrogation we are trying to get the subject to confide in us and share with
us the information about their involvement in the crime.  In this process, the subject
resists our efforts, refusing to give up the information. We need to find the key
word or phrase that will convince the subject that the best alternative is to talk to
us; this is not an easy task.  

Every person has a mental gate keeper we call the “Critical Factor,” or “Critical
Faculty.” This is a subconscious part of the human brain that evaluates information
flowing into the brain from the outside world. It compares incoming information with
the beliefs, values, views and principals already established by the subconscious of
the subject’s mind.  It decides whether information is true, false, good or bad.  It
challenges information that does not meet the established beliefs of the subject’s
critical factor.  For instance, if someone told you that cars fly, you would not believe
them.  This is because your subconscious knows that cars do not fly, not in real
life.  We are trying to convince the person that the best alternative is for them to
confide in us and tell us about their involvement.

The critical factor protects you from outside influences.  Without this subconscious
guardian, you would believe anything you were told, allowing people to take
advantage of you. I look at the critical factor as your B.S. detector.  How often has
someone told you something outlandish and without any lengthy consideration you
emphatically state, “That is B.S.”  Your response is driven by your critical factor,
based on what you believe or do not believe.
The critical factor is developed and established subconsciously as you live and grow and does not develop
until puberty.  This is why children believe in Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy.  Their
critical factor has not yet developed to the degree where it can reject implausible information.

The critical factor is not always correct; sometimes it has established beliefs that are incorrect.  In fact, a
person will defend beliefs held by the critical factor; even if they are factually wrong. The more we challenge
their beliefs, the more entrenched they become.  Dr. Ellen Langer, a researcher from Harvard, has written
several texts on how the subconscious learns.  She refers to it as “Mindless Learning.”  

Mindless learning is where the subconscious takes in information and establishes the base of what you
believe.  This is where the standard interrogation fails.  We are trying to change the mind of the subject and
get them confess to us what they did.  Their critical factor rejects making a confession in order to protect the
subject.  The more we push, the harder the subject defends their position not to confess.

We need a way to circumvent the critical factor and convince the person to speak to us. The critical factor is
the guardian watching the gates of the unconscious.  The mindless way the brain learns and protects itself
is the same way it learns what is acceptable.  We want to get the “acceptable key” and slip past the
guardian at the door.  We want to determine the words, sayings and actions that are acceptable to the
subject’s critical factor, so we can gain access to the subconscious and get the person to listen to us?

In 1978 Ellen Langer along with Benzion Chanowitz and Arthur Blank conducted an experiment that
demonstrates the effect the correct wording can have on others, (Described in her book “Mindfulness” page
14.)  In the experiment there was a line of students waiting to use the copy machine.  The actor in the
experiment walked up to the front of the line and in 3 separate versions asked 3 different questions.  The
first question was “Excuse me, may I use the Xerox machine?”  The second was “Excuse me, may I use the
Xerox machine because I am in a rush?”    The third question was “Excuse me, may I use the Xerox machine
because I want to make copies?” The first and second questions are the same, except the second request
gives a reason followed by “because.”  The third question gives the reason “because I am in a hurry.”  More
people responded to the second and third question than the first question.  The result of this experiment
demonstrated that the people responded more to the structure of the question than the content.  People are
conditioned to respond to the word “because.”  

All our life, when we ask why, we get the answer “because.”  When children ask why, the answer is often
“because I say so.”  This conditions us to respond to the answer “because,” mindlessly, without fully
examining the reason.  This simple word, “because”, is a preapproved “mind string” and takes us past the
critical factor to the unconscious mind.

There are other phrases people use to skirt past the critical factor.  They are words that we use every day
and carry an unspoken meaning to get us in.  Words like: “outstanding,” to do this would be outstanding for
you; “Incredible,” doing it this way would give you incredible results; ”best”, sharing your story would be best
for you.  In each case we insert one of these words with what we are trying to convince the person.

Example words: awesome, tremendous, remarkable, awe-inspiring, astounding, astonishing, extraordinary,
mind-blowing, mind-goggling, fantastic, unbelievable, remarkable, tremendous, phenomenal, superb,
splendid, terrific, marvelous, magnificent, brilliant, inspired, first-class, first-rate, sensational, colossal,
impressive and etc.  

All of these words and images have mental triggers that can help us get to the unconscious mind.  
Advertising does this to us all the time; they use one of these or similar words when describing how their
product can help us.  They show us pictures of people or products that relate to our personal reservoir of
memories. We can use these same words to move past the critical factor and convince people to open up
and talk to us.