ArticlePDF Available

The need for a positive psychological approach and collaborative effort for improving practice in the interrogation room



The White Paper suggests important reforms that will reduce the likelihood of false confessions resulting from police interrogation. The research underlying these suggested reforms has yielded significant advances in our understanding of factors associated with false confessions. As we move forward, we encourage the development of empirically based approaches that provide a viable alternative to current practice. In doing so, we suggest that researchers pursue a positive psychological approach that involves partnering with practitioners to systematically develop interrogative methods that are shown to be more diagnostic. By taking such an approach, we believe that the recommendations offered in the current White Paper can be supplemented by methods that carry the support of both scientific and law enforcement communities.
The Need for a Positive Psychological Approach
and Collaborative Effort for Improving Practice
in the Interrogation Room
Christian A. Meissner Maria Hartwig
Melissa B. Russano
Published online: 15 January 2010
ÓAmerican Psychology-Law Society/Division 41 of the American Psychological Association 2010
Abstract The White Paper suggests important reforms
that will reduce the likelihood of false confessions resulting
from police interrogation. The research underlying these
suggested reforms has yielded significant advances in our
understanding of factors associated with false confessions.
As we move forward, we encourage the development of
empirically based approaches that provide a viable alter-
native to current practice. In doing so, we suggest that
researchers pursue a positive psychological approach that
involves partnering with practitioners to systematically
develop interrogative methods that are shown to be more
diagnostic. By taking such an approach, we believe that the
recommendations offered in the current White Paper can be
supplemented by methods that carry the support of both
scientific and law enforcement communities.
Keywords Interrogation Confessions
Deception detection
Police interrogations and confessions have been a topic of
scientific inquiry for several decades, including a number
of important field and archival studies conducted in the
United States and Great Britain in the 1980s and 1990s
(Drizin & Leo, 2004; Gudjonsson, 2003; Leo, 1996), and
more recent experimental research conducted over the past
15 years (Kassin & Kiechel, 1996; Russano, Meissner,
Narchet, & Kassin, 2005). The White Paper, authored by
Kassin, Drizin, Grisso, Gudjonsson, Leo, and Redlich
(2009), provides an important overview of this research
and highlights at least three important ‘‘risk factors’
associated with false confessions: investigative biases,
psychologically manipulative interrogation tactics, and
characteristics that make some individuals more suggest-
ible in the interrogation room. Kassin et al. conclude their
review by suggesting that several reforms be considered
within the U.S. legal system, including the mandatory
recording of all custodial interrogations, prohibiting the use
of certain interrogation approaches, and providing certain
protections to vulnerable populations. We agree with these
recommendations and believe they are well supported by
the research literature.
As we move forward, we believe it is important to
recognize that the responsibility to change interrogation
practice lies not only with policy makers and practitioners,
but also with the scientific community. Ultimately, the
challenge for future research is to begin the development of
evidence-based practices that might aid law enforcement in
eliciting more diagnostic confession evidence, and thereby
provide an alternative to the problematic methods that are
currently employed. If the research community is to
encourage such reform within the legal system, we believe
that two interrelated issues must become the focus of future
research efforts.
First, there is growing interest in the realm of positive
psychology as applied to the legal system, in which
research is oriented toward identifying accurate legal pro-
cesses or decisions rather than simply exposing biases or
documenting errors. Yet, to-date only a handful of studies
have taken a positive approach to the topic of police
C. A. Meissner (&)
University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, USA
M. Hartwig
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University
of New York, New York, NY, USA
M. B. Russano
Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI, USA
Law Hum Behav (2010) 34:43–45
DOI 10.1007/s10979-009-9205-9
interrogations in which researchers seek to systematically
identify or develop more diagnostic interrogative tactics (as
opposed to focusing solely on false confessions; e.g.,
Hartwig, Granhag, Stro
¨mwall, & Kronkvist, 2006; Meiss-
ner, Russano, & Narchet, 2010). As a result, although we
can offer law enforcement research-based guidance on
tactics to avoid during interrogation, at this point we are
somewhat limited in our ability to offer scientifically sup-
ported recommendations on eliciting true confessions.
Given the abundance of manuals and training programs
available to law enforcement agencies that promote flawed
interrogation tactics (Granhag & Vrij, 2005), we believe
that the ability to offer effective alternatives is of critical
importance. To address this situation, we encourage
researchers to adopt the approach often seen in the eye-
witness literature, in which considerable efforts have been
devoted to identifying alternative procedures that may
increase the diagnostic value of the eyewitness evidence
(Technical Working Group for Eyewitness Evidence, 1999;
Wells et al., 1998). We propose that a systematic, experi-
mental approach to identifying and developing more
diagnostic interrogative methods is ideal for at least two
reasons (see also Meissner et al., 2010). First, an experi-
mental approach allows researchers to generate and test
hypotheses about tactics derived from basic psychological
theory (Granhag & Hartwig, 2008). Second, experimental
research provides the possibility of systematic and con-
trolled tests of promising interrogation techniques in which
ground truth (and therein the diagnostic value of the
approach) can be established. Following initial develop-
ment in the laboratory, such methods can (and should) be
further examined in the field. This brings us to our second
In order to develop and implement more appropriate,
evidence-based interrogation methods, we also urge
researchers to seek opportunities to partner with police
investigators (see also Kassin & Gudjonsson, 2004). As
noted by Soukara, Bull, Vrij, Turner, and Cherryman
(2009), collaboration with law enforcement in Great Brit-
ain has played a significant role in the success of reforms
there (see also Bull, 1999). Collaborations here in the
United States should similarly seek to engage police
investigators in the scientific process and the critical
evaluation of interrogative methods. Of course, collabora-
tion requires willingness on the part of both research and
law enforcement communities. It is not unusual for law
enforcement to express a reluctance to cooperate on
research projects, and their lack of trust with the scientific
community represents a serious obstacle for progress on
these issues. Nevertheless, we believe that such efforts are
needed, as collaboration would not only result in the
development of better interrogative methods, but should
also encourage the continued evaluation of such methods in
the field—a process that Bull et al. have employed suc-
cessfully in Great Britain over the past decade (see Bull &
Soukara, 2010). We have begun to implement this collab-
orative strategy in recent and ongoing research efforts, and
have found investigators motivated both to engage in the
research process and to learn of alternative, scientifically
based strategies for interrogation and credibility assess-
ment (cf. Evans, Meissner, Brandon, Russano, &
Kleinman, in press). We encourage other researchers to
pursue such opportunities, as our success in reforming the
current system will ultimately depend upon our ability to
identify areas of mutual interest and collaboration with key
In summary, we believe it is important that researchers
adopt a positive, collaborative approach if we are to suc-
cessfully engage the criminal justice system in the reform
of interrogative practices. As a field, we must systemati-
cally develop alternative, evidence-based approaches that
improve the diagnostic value of confession evidence. By
partnering with investigators in this positive approach and
engaging them in the scientific process, the recommenda-
tions offered in the current White Paper can soon be
supplemented by research on productive and diagnostic
interrogative methods that carry the support of both sci-
entific and law enforcement communities.
Bull, R. (1999). Police investigative interviewing. In A. Memon & R.
Bull (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of interviewing (pp.
279–292). Chichester: Wiley.
Bull, R., & Soukara, S. (2010). Four studies of what really happens in
police interviews. In G. D. Lassiter & C. Meissner (Eds.), Police
interrogations and false confessions: Current research, practice,
and policy recommendations. Washington, DC: American Psy-
chological Association.
Drizin, S. A., & Leo, R. A. (2004). The problem of false confessions
in the post-DNA world. North Carolina Law Review, 82, 891–
Evans, J. R., Meissner, C. A., Brandon, S. E., Russano, M. B., &
Kleinman, S. M. (in press). Criminal versus HUMINT interro-
gations: The importance of psychological science to improving
interrogative practice. Journal of Psychiatry & Law.
Granhag, P. A., & Hartwig, M. (2008). A new theoretical perspective
on deception detection: On the psychology of instrumental mind
reading. Psychology, Crime, & Law, 14, 189–200.
Granhag, P. A., & Vrij, A. (2005). Detecting deception. In N. Brewer
& K. Williams (Eds.), Psychology & law: An empirical
perspective (pp. 43–92). New York: Guilford Press.
Gudjonsson, G. H. (2003). The psychology of interrogations and
confessions. Chichester: Wiley.
Hartwig, M., Granhag, P. A., Stro
¨mwall, L. A., & Kronkvist, O.
(2006). Strategic use of evidence during police interviews: When
training to detect deception work. Law and Human Behavior, 30,
Kassin, S. M., Drizin, S. A., Grisso, T., Gudjonsson, G. H., Leo, R.
A., & Redlich, A. D. (2009). Police-induced confessions: Risk
44 Law Hum Behav (2010) 34:43–45
factors and recommendations. Law & Human Behavior. doi:
Kassin, S. M., & Gudjonsson, G. H. (2004). The psychology of
confessions: A review of the literature and issues. Psychological
Science in the Public Interest, 5, 35–67.
Kassin, S. M., & Kiechel, K. L. (1996). The social psychology of false
confessions: Compliance, internalization, and confabulations.
Psychological Science, 7, 125–128.
Meissner, C. A., Russano, M. B., & Narchet, F. M. (2010). The
importance of a laboratory science for improving the diagnostic
value of confession evidence. In G. D. Lassiter & C. Meissner
(Eds.), Police interrogations and false confessions:Research,
practice, and policy recommendations. Washington, DC: Amer-
ican Psychological Association.
Russano, M. B., Meissner, C. A., Narchet, F. M., & Kassin, S. M.
(2005). Investigating true and false confessions within a novel
experimental paradigm. Psychological Science, 16, 481–486.
Soukara, S., Bull, R., Vrij, A., Turner, M., & Cherryman, J. (2009).
What really happens in police interviews of suspects? Tactics
and confessions. Psychology, Crime, & Law, 15, 493–506.
Technical Working Group for Eyewitness Evidence. (1999). Eyewit-
ness evidence: A guide for law enforcement. Washington, DC:
National Institute of Justice.
Wells, G., Small, M., Penrod, S., Malpass, R., Fulero, S., &
Brimacombe, C. (1998). Eyewitness identification procedures:
Recommendations for lineups and photospreads. Law and
Human Behavior, 22, 603–647.
Law Hum Behav (2010) 34:43–45 45
... The uptake of this model and the accompanying studies on its effectiveness can be seen as a promising indication of the model's potential (Griffiths & Milne, 2005;Mendez, 2016). Moreover, the successful collaboration between psychologists and law enforcement and the application of their work within police forces around England and Wales revealed the need and benefits of collaboration between academics and police forces (Meissner et al., 2010). ...
... Finally, it is incredibly important to facilitate collaborations between academic researchers and police forces/practitioners. The collaboration between (psychological) researchers and police within countries such as in England and Wales has been at the heart of their success in achieving evidence-based standards of policing, such as when it comes to investigative interviews (Meissner et al., 2010). ...
... Therefore, achieving EBP must be a joint venture between researchers and police forces. Collaborations should be bidirectional, such that academic researchers conduct research that can inform best-practice policing procedure, and should constantly evaluate the use of these procedures in the field by officers, and address any gaps by conducting further research when necessary (Wells & Quigley-McBridge, 2016;Meissner et al., 2010). The recent development of collaborative societies may also assist with reducing some of the barriers around implementing EBP, particularly when it comes to police having a lack of contact with researchers, or vice versa. ...
Full-text available
Psychological research has been pivotal in influencing the way police forces globally approach and undertake criminal investigations. Increasing psychological research in recent years has led to the development of best-practice guidelines for conducting police investigations, across a number of key areas of criminal investigation. For example, procedures for creating and conducting lineups as recommended by the American Psychology-Law Society (Wells et al., 1998), and the UK developed PEACE model for investigative interviewing, have both been of influence in Australia. However, it is unclear the extent to which these evidence-based recommendations have been incorporated into policing practice within Australia. In the current article, we conducted an exploratory review of publicly available policing documents within Australian states and territories, to determine the extent to which best-practice lineup identification and investigative interviewing procedures have been adopted into police practice. The review revealed that for lineup identification procedures, many of the basic recommendations for conducting lineups were not incorporated into publicly available policing manuals. For investigative interviewing, it appeared on the surface that elements of the PEACE model were implemented within most Australian jurisdictions, albeit this was often not explicitly stated within policing documents. A key issue identified was a lack of (understandable) public transparency of policing procedure, as a number of Australian jurisdictions failed to have publicly available policing manuals or handbooks in which to evaluate their procedures against. Therefore, we argue that there is a need for better collaboration between researchers and law enforcement in order to achieve evidence-based, transparent policing within Australia.
... For decades, our focus has been to assess factors that lead to errors within the legal system, most notably including wrongful conviction of the innocent. As one of us has argued elsewhere (see Meissner et al., 2010), a focus on the problems of current practice alone is simply insufficient to influence policymakers and practitioners-what is required is a positive psychological science that offers solutions. ...
Full-text available
Psycholegal research is, by design, a field devoted to evaluating and addressing issues that directly affect the justice system. At the same time, many scholars in the field have experienced first-hand the frustrations of bridging the divide between research and policy or practice. In this chapter we discuss key issues and challenges involved in bridging this divide by focusing on a number of cardinal questions: Why influence policy? When, where, and how might we do so? How much evidence must there be before adopting a particular policy? And what policies can (or should) we address? We argue that psycholegal research should operate within a translational research framework, and we encourage scholars to communicate their findings to a broader audience, spend time with the professionals for whom their research is intended, introduce students to best practices for conducting policy-relevant research, and reconsider how we evaluate one another’s contributions in the academy.
... In closing, I would be remiss if I did not urge scholars to pursue a positive, collaborative relationship with professionals (Evans, Houston, & Meissner, 2012;Meissner, Hartwig, & Russano, 2010). Over the past decade, I have been granted many opportunities to work with law enforcement, military, and intelligence professionals on a variety of projects. ...
The current article presents a series of commentaries on urgent issues and prospects in reforming interrogation practices in Canada and the United States. Researchers and practitioners, who have devoted much of their careers to the field of police and intelligence interrogations, were asked to provide their insights on an area of interrogation research that they believe requires immediate attention. The submitted independent commentaries covered a variety of topics – from police recruitment, interrogation training, use of proper interrogation practices, and the treatment of confession evidence in court. Common concerns from the contributions pertained to the lag between scientific knowledge on interrogations and the application of such knowledge in the justice system, and the glaring disparity between the treatment of similar issues in the interrogation context versus other criminal justice contexts. A primary intent of this collection of commentaries is to serve as a resource pointing researchers in the direction of the fundamental areas that require immediate consideration and encouraging them to simultaneously pursue solutions to the overarching concerns that emerged from this project.
... This thesis sets out to develop an interviewing framework for eliciting information from suspects and sources. For this purpose, the research presented here employed an experimental approach, which is useful for examining interviewing interactions in a controlled setting (Meissner, Hartwig, & Russano, 2010). This thesis starts with a brief overview of the current research on suspect and HUMINT interviewing. ...
Full-text available
Gathering information in human interactions is a critical aspect for police and intelligence interviewers. However, quite recently and rather slowly researchers have started to focus on using available information in order to collect case-related information in such interactions. This thesis advances this line of research by conducting three studies on how to use available information to elicit new information from sources and suspects. Two of the studies were about the Scharff-technique and one was about the Strategic Use of Evidence (SUE)-technique. Study I compared two combinations of the Scharff tactics and the Direct Approach. Participants (N = 93) took the role of a source and were instructed to strike a balance between not revealing too little or too much information. Overall, the sources in both Scharff conditions revealed more new information, perceived the interviewer to hold more knowledge, and found it more difficult to understand the interviewer’s information objectives, compared to the sources in the Direct Approach. The sources interviewed by the Scharff conditions underestimated how much new information they revealed, whereas the sources interviewed by the Direct Approach overestimated the amount of new information revealed. Study II examined two ways of introducing the presentation of the known information when using the illusion of knowing it all tactic of the Scharff-technique. Again, participants took the role of a source but without having the chance to reveal information. In two separate experiments (each N = 60), the sources’ perceptions of the interviewer’s knowledge and knowledge gaps were mapped. This study found that by just starting the presentation of the known information made the sources believe the interviewer had more knowledge and they searched less actively for gaps in the interviewer’s knowledge, compared to when the interviewer used an extreme convinced introductory statement about his or her case-related knowledge. Study III tested two different ways of eliciting and disclosing statement-evidence inconsistencies using the SUE-technique against an early disclosure of the evidence. Participants (N = 88) performed a mock crime and were instructed to claim innocence. Both SUE conditions resulted in more inconsistencies and the suspects overestimated the interviewer’s knowledge to a higher extent than the Early disclosure condition. However, only the non- judgemental version of the SUE-technique resulted in more new information (vs. the Early disclosure condition) and created a more fostering interview atmosphere (vs. the confrontational version of the SUE- technique). In line with the three studies, this thesis developed an interviewing framework consisting of a conceptual and tactical tier. The conceptual tier explains the cognitive and verbal processes of the sources/suspects in interviews and the mechanisms behind the Scharff and SUE tactics. The tactical tier includes the Scharff-technique and SUE-technique and shows ways in order to influence the sources’/suspects’ perceptions and verbal behaviours. Overall, the developed two-tier interviewing framework can help to train practitioners and initiate further research.
... The evidence-based practices described above are often a product of researcherpractitioner collaborations that have been facilitated over the past decade (see Meissner et al., 2010;Meissner et al., 2017). In fact, the current article is the product of exactly this type of collaboration: the first author (CAM) is a psychological scientist who has spent his career examining the psychological mechanisms underlying investigative interviews, and the second author (AML) is both a scholar (PhD) and a practicing attorney (JD) who currently serves as Associate Director of Equal Opportunity and Senior Deputy Title IX Coordinator. ...
Full-text available
Under Title IX, schools in the United States that receive federal financial assistance are legally required to provide a prompt and impartial process for investigating complaints of sex-based discrimination. These investigations critically rely upon information obtained in interviews. We provide an evaluation of interview training that is presently available to college and university Title IX investigators. Our review finds that while certain core interviewing skills align with evidence-based practice and available research, other suggested practices are at odds with the available science, and additional effective interviewing practices related to the retrieval of memory and the assessment of credibility are critically absent. We recommend a set of evidence-based practices for Title IX investigative interviews that are likely to (a) improve the development of rapport and cooperation with an interviewee, (b) elicit more accurate and relevant information from memory, and (c) enhance assessments of credibility when applying strategic questioning approaches.
... There is a risk that broadly suggesting to police that they cannot or should not use minimization will fall on deaf ears because it is likely to be perceived as being akin to taking away the fundamental tools of their trade, unless that policy prescription is accompanied by helpful advice on what they should or can do instead. If certain minimization techniques are diagnostic (i.e., they elicit true confessions, but not false confessions), then researchers should seek to identify and promote those techniques and/or help develop other diagnostic science-based approaches that provide law enforcement with alternatives to current problematic practices (Meissner, Hartwig, & Russano, 2010). ...
Full-text available
The concept of minimization has been a focal point of research on police interrogations in part because of its widespread use and endorsement in interrogation training. Minimization, however, refers to a wide range of specific techniques, and research into it has tended to focus almost exclusively on suspect admissions at the expense of other suspect behaviors. Our purpose in the present study was to scrutinize and closely examine minimization as a concept and an interrogation method. Using a sample of approximately 45 hr of recordings of American police interrogations of suspects later convicted of serious, violent crime, we operationally defined and measured three minimization techniques-appealing to the suspect's self-interest, appealing to the suspect's conscience, and offering rationalizations-and examined them in relation to three "suspect engagement" measures-crying, making excuses, or seeking information-and how each were related to suspect admissions. Descriptively, the minimization techniques were among the most commonly observed techniques in the sample and in bivariate analyses, appealing to the suspect's conscience was related to the suspect crying and appealing to self-interest was associated with seeking information. None of the techniques was positively associated with suspect admissions, but suspect crying and making excuses were. The final mediated models showed that several minimization techniques indirectly influenced admissions through suspect engagement variables. In short, this study presents a more complete picture of the relationship between common interrogation techniques and suspect admissions. Future research should account for these and other engagement measures to fully understand interrogation as the complex phenomenon it is.
Full-text available
Investigative interviews are an essential tool for any criminal investigation and are conducted across a variety of contexts and subject populations. In each context, key psychological processes function to regulate communication between an interviewer and a subject – from developing rapport and trust, to facilitating memory retrieval, to assessing credibility. Over the past 50 years, research on investigative interviewing has dramatically increased to include assessing cooperative interviews with witnesses/victims, interviews with more resistant suspects and sources, and interviewing to detect deception. We review the various topics that have been examined and discuss three fundamental challenges to eliciting the truth: (i) investigative biases, (ii) the frailty of human memory, and (iii) resistance to providing information. We then introduce a model of science-based investigative interviewing that encompasses both relational and informational tactics shown to be effective in developing rapport and trust, eliciting accurate information, and facilitating judgments of credibility. Finally, we discuss the policy and practice implications of this research, including recent efforts at reform around the world.
Full-text available
Although the historical roots, contemporary challenges, material as well as procedural law vary across different jurisdictions, all jurisdictions have one common and continuous denominator; they are all fundamentally dependent on the decision-making processes of humans operating inside of them. It has been said that: “if one were to attempt to identify a single problematic aspect of human reasoning that deserves attention above all others, the confirmation bias would have to be among the candidates for consideration” (Nickerson, 1998). Confirmation bias connotes the seeking and/or interpretation of evidence in ways that are partial to existing hypotheses and the relevance of this bias for the context of criminal investigations and proceedings has been confirmed by legal psychological research. So far, this research has focused almost exclusively on national jurisdictions while similar problems may very well arise in international investigations into core international crimes (war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide etc.). In this context, confirmation bias would strongly contradict legal demands on decision making such as the presumption of innocence and the prosecutor’s duty to investigate both incriminating and exonerating circumstances equally (Rome Statute of the ICC, Articles 66 and 54). This research explores manifestations of confirmation bias such as suspect-driven investigations and asymmetrical scepticism using examples such as The Ayyash et al case from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) and The Prosecutor v. Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé from the International Criminal Court (ICC). It also discusses the importance of confirmation bias in more specific investigative settings such as forensic investigation and analyses, identifications and interviews. Furthermore, explanations of confirmation bias stemming from cognitive, emotion/motivation, social and organizational psychology are addressed, as well as how these explanations can be converted into possible debiasing techniques. Such techniques involve for example structured analytical techniques, models for suspect interviews, contextual information management (CIM) and changing decision makers between different stages of the investigations and proceedings.
This book’s overriding objective is to convey how to conduct Miranda evaluations and consultations. Nonetheless, Miranda-experienced forensic psychologists and psychiatrists carry additional professional responsibilities for the further education and training of practitioners who seek to broaden their forensic competencies, and, this book is also dedicated to that goal. Beyond specialized training, the dissemination of Miranda-relevant knowledge extends to stakeholders in the criminal justice system, directly involving law enforcement, officers of the court, and all organizations dedicated to upholding Constitutional rights. Whether the role in question is that of a forensic practitioner or researcher, we submit that advocacy for fairness and transparency is both a desired aspiration as well as a professional obligation. Such initiatives may be undertaken at local, state, and national levels. Their objectives may range from policy change at the agency level to legislative action at the state or national level. For such objectives to be fully realized, they must consider fair procedural safeguards for arrestees as well as respect for the professional roles of those charged with protecting our society. Finally, the establishment of Miranda research agenda is a forward-looking process of examining priorities for the next generation of Miranda knowledge and problem-solving.
Full-text available
Recently, in a number of high-profile cases, defendants who were prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced on the basis of false confessions have been exonerated through DNA evidence. As a historical matter, confession has played a prominent role in religion, in psychotherapy, and in criminal law-where it is a prosecutor's most potent weapon. In recent years, psychologists from the clinical, personality, developmental, cognitive, and social areas have brought their theories and research methods to bear on an analysis of confession evidence, how it is obtained, and what impact it has on judges, juries, and other people.
Full-text available
The discovery of many cases of wrongful conviction in the criminal justice system involving admissions from innocent suspects has led psychologists to examine the factors contributing to false confessions. However, little systematic research has assessed the processes underlying Human Intelligence (HUMINT) interrogations relating to military and intelligence operations. The current article examines the similarities and differences between interrogations in criminal and HUMINT settings, and discusses the extent to which the current empirical literature can be applied to criminal and/or HUMINT interrogations. Finally, areas of future research are considered in light of the need for improving HUMINT interrogation.
Full-text available
An experiment demonstrated that false incriminating evidence can lead people to accept guilt for a crime they did not commit Subjects in a fast- or slow-paced reaction time task were accused of damaging a computer by pressing the wrong key All were truly innocent and initially denied the charge A confederate then said she saw the subject hit the key or did not see the subject hit the key Compared with subjects in the slow-pacelno-witness group, those in the fast-pace/witness group were more likely to sign a confession, internalize guilt for the event, and confabulate details in memory consistent with that belief Both legal and conceptual implications are discussed
Full-text available
To be able to assess the veracity of statements offered by suspects, witnesses and alleged victims is of paramount importance in legal settings. The aim of this paper is to provide an initial piece of scientific support for the idea that psychologically informed mind-reading can improve people's ability to detect deception. To this end, a theoretical framework is sketched; a framework resting upon psychological notions from three domains: (a) the psychology of mind-reading, (b) the psychology of self-regulation, and (c) the psychology of guilt and innocence. Importantly, the term mind-reading is used in an instrumental (vs descriptive) manner, where the goal is to improve the ability to predict a person's behaviour (not to read the content of a person's mind). It is argued that the mind-reading process can be facilitated by theoretical and empirical work pertaining to ‘the psychology of guilt’ and ‘the psychology of innocence’. Using psychologically informed mind-reading, predictions of guilty and innocent suspects’ behaviour are specified, and gauged against existing empirical work. Finally, a recently published training study is used to illustrate how the outcome of instrumental mind-reading can be translated into interview tactics, and ultimately improve interviewers’ ability to detect deception.
Full-text available
There exists very limited published research on what actually happens during police interviews with suspects, and the research which does exist has identified a number of weaknesses. In attempts to remedy this, some governments have brought in legislative changes and some police forces have sought to improve their training. The present study examined the extent to which a number of psychological tactics identified in the literature were actually used by a major police force in England. Audio tape recordings of interviews were assessed by a number of forensic psychologists. It was found that coercive tactics were used very infrequently but that tactics concerned with the seeking of information were common. There were relatively few correlations between (i) the extent to which suspects changed ‘position’ from denial toward confession and (ii) the degree of usage of each of the 17 tactics. Most of the tactics had a stronger degree of usage in interviews in which the suspects continued to deny/never confessed. The relationships between these findings and changes in relevant legislation and training are discussed.
Full-text available
There exist rather few published studies of what actually takes place during police interviews with suspects. Only a proportion of this small sample has provided data concerning the various tactics and skills used by such interviewers, and almost no studies have examined the possible relationship between actual tactic and skill usage and the elicitation of confessions (but see Pearse & Gudjonsson, 1999). The present chapter describes four interrelated studies that provide a significant addition to this limited literature. These four studies were conducted several years after a very major initiative was undertaken in England and Wales to improve and change the way police conduct interviews with suspects, witnesses, and victims. We now present four interrelated studies that were designed to examine not only the extent to which interviewers' beliefs and interviewers' actual performance were in line the PEACE approach but also which aspects of their performance (e.g., tactics, skills) might relate to suspects giving a confession. Study 1 found that the views of experienced interviewers and detectives in England appeared to be in line with the new approach (referred to as investigative interviewing) and its evolving training program (PEACE). One major aim of Studies 2 and 3 was to determine if actual police interviewing of suspects was in line with the philosophy behind investigative interviewing. These two studies found this to be the case to a considerable extent (e.g., the absence of oppressive coercive tactics), which clearly suggests that the PEACE approach can be accepted and used by police officers. However, some inappropriate tactics were used in a considerable number of interviews (e.g., leading questions, repeating the same questions, positive confrontation), although Clarke, Milne, and Bull (2009) found fewer leading questions. Studies 3 and 4 also had the major aim of trying to determine whether interviewer use of tactics and skills bore any relationship to the suspect confessing. Interviews largely using the noncoercive PEACE investigative interviewing approach still resulted in confessions. Contrary to what the limited previous research had found (e.g., Baldwin, 1993), most of the suspects who confessed did not do so very early on. This allowed, almost for the first time, examination of whether the interviewer's behavior influences confessing (as suggested by convicted persons in studies by Holmberg & Christiansson, 2002; Kebbell & Hurren, 2006). Of course, in our research studies it was not possible to determine whether use of the PEACE approach results in fewer false confessions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
This volume, a sequel to The Psychology of Interrogations, Confessions and Testimony which is widely acclaimed by both scientists and practitioners, brings the field completely up-to-date and focuses in particular on aspects of vulnerability, confabulation and false confessions. The is an unrivalled integration of scientific knowledge of the psychological processes and research relating to interrogation, with the practical investigative and legal issues that bear upon obtaining, and using in court, evidence from interrogations of suspects. Accessible style which will appeal to academics, students and practitioners. Authoritative integration of theory, research, practical implications and vivid case illustration. Coverage of topical issues like confabulation, false memory, and false confessions. Part of the Wiley Series in The Psychology of Crime, Policing and Law.
The Gudjonsson Suggestibility ScalesSuggestibility And Hypnotic SusceptibilityComplianceAcquiescenceCorrelations Between Suggestibility, Compliance And AcquiescenceSuggestibility and GenderSuggestibility and Ethnic Background Suggestibility and AgeSuggestibility and IntelligenceSuggestibility and MemorySuggestibility and AnxietySuggestibility and ImpulsivitySuggestibility and the Mmpi-2Suggestibility and Sleep DeprivationSuggestibility: Dissociation And Fantasy PronenessSuggestibility and Instructional ManipulationSuggestibility and the Experimenter EffectSuggestibility and Social DesirabilitySuggestibility and Coping StrategiesSuggestibility and AssertivenessSuggestibility and Self-EsteemSuggestibility and Locus Of ControlSuggestibility and Field DependenceSuspiciousness and AngerSuggestibility and Test SettingSuggestibility and Previous ConvictionsPolice Interviewing and SuggestibilityResisters and Alleged False ConfessorsSuggestibility and False ConfessionsSuggestibility and Eyewitness TestimonySuggestibility and Recovered MemoryConclusions
IntroductionInterrogationThe Interrogation of Terrorist SuspectsConfessions and Denials-Base RatesModels of ConfessionsInterrogation as an Interactive ProcessHow Interrogations can Go WrongFalse ConfessionsConclusions References