Good cop/bad cop is a psychological tactic used in negotiation and interrogation, in which a team of two people take opposing approaches interrogating their subject.[1] One interrogator adopts a hostile or accusatory demeanor, emphasizing threats of punishment, while the other adopts a more sympathetic demeanor, emphasizing reward, in order to convince the subject to cooperate.[2] It is an instance of the Reid technique.[3]


The "bad cop" takes an aggressive, negative stance towards the subject, making blatant accusations, derogatory comments, threats, and in general creating antipathy with the subject. This sets the stage for the "good cop" to act sympathetically, appearing supportive and understanding, and in general showing sympathy for the subject. The good cop defends the subject from the bad cop. The subject may feel able to cooperate with the good cop, either out of trust or out of fear of the bad cop and may then seek protection by the good cop and provide the information the interrogators are seeking.[4] The order can also be reversed. When performed in this manner, the good cop will try to gain a subject's trust. If that fails, the bad cop will intimidate the subject to make them crack under pressure.[citation needed]

The disadvantage of this technique is that it can be easily identified, and the "bad cop" may alienate the subject.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Susan Brodt & Marla Tuchinsky (March 2000). "Working Together but in Opposition: An Examination of the "Good-Cop/Bad-Cop" Negotiating Team Tactic". Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. 81 (2): 155–177. doi:10.1006/obhd.1999.2879. PMID 10706812.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  2. ^ Shonk, Katie (January 7, 2020). "The Good Cop, Bad Cop Negotiation Strategy". Harvard University. Archived from the original on March 18, 2019. Retrieved June 10, 2021.
  3. ^ "Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual" (PDF). Central Intelligence Agency. 1983. p. 26-27. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 25, 2017. Retrieved June 10, 2021.
  4. ^ Mark Homan (2010). Promoting Community Change: Making it Happen in the Real World. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-0840031952. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  5. ^ Roy J. Lewicki & Alexander Hiam (2011). Mastering Business Negotiation. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1118046944. Retrieved 24 January 2015.((cite book)): CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)