AskDefine | Define debrief

Dictionary Definition

debrief v : put someone through a debriefing and make him report; "The released hostages were debriefed"

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. To question someone after a military mission in order to obtain intelligence.
  2. To question someone, or a group of people, after the implementation of a project in order to learn from mistakes etc.
  3. To inform subjects of an experiment about what has happened in a complete and accurate manner.

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

A debriefing or psychological debriefing is a one-time, semi-structured conversation with an individual who has just experienced a stressful or traumatic event. In most cases, the purpose of debriefing is to reduce any possibility of psychological harm by informing people about their experience or allowing them to talk about it.

Military debriefing

Debriefings originated in the military. This type of debriefing is used to receive information from a pilot or soldier after a mission, and to instruct the individual as to what information can be released to the public and what information is restricted. Another purpose of the military debriefing is to assess the individual and return him or her to regular duties as soon as possible.

Crisis intervention

Debriefings are used by grief counselors and disaster workers as part of an emergency intervention to help people who have recently experienced major loss or suffering. These cases include hurricanes, earthquakes, school shootings, and other situations that involve fear, injury, extreme discomfort, property damage, or loss of friends and loved ones. The goal of the debriefing is to reduce the likelihood of post traumatic stress disorder, or other psychological problems. This type of intervention is routine in many countries, but the evidence for its effectiveness is somewhat lacking. Indeed, some evidence shows that early debriefing may not only be ineffective, but harmful.

Advertising debriefing

In the advertising industry a debriefing has another meaning. It's the follow up on a briefing session with a client and has been described by Mark Giesbers (Talpa Digital) as: A debriefing is a one-page insurance policy against screwing up later on.
Thus, the debriefing insures the agency that the questions have been interpreted correctly before they are transformed into creative answers.

Psychological research

In psychological research, a debriefing is a short interview that takes place between researchers and research participants immediately following their participation in a psychology experiment. The debriefing is an important ethical consideration to make sure that participants are fully informed about, and not harmed in any way by, their experience in an experiment. Along with informed consent, the debriefing is considered to be a fundamental ethical precaution in research involving human beings. It is especially important in social psychology experiments that use deception. Debriefing is typically not used in surveys, observational studies, or other forms of research that involve no deception and minimal risk to participants.
Methodological advantages of a debriefing include the ability of researchers to check the effectiveness of a manipulation, or to identify participants who were able to guess the hypothesis or spot a deception. If the data have been compromised in this way, then those participants should be excluded from the analysis. Many psychologists feel that these benefits justify a postexperimental followup even in the absence of deception or stressful procedures.


debrief in Spanish: Debriefing
debrief in French: Post-évaluation à chaud
debrief in Italian: Debriefing
debrief in Swedish: Debriefing

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

break up, brief, deactivate, demob, demobilize, detach, disband, discharge, disintegrate, dismiss, disorganize, disperse, dissolve, give a briefing, go separate ways, let go, muster out, part, part company, release, scatter, separate, split up
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