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Acute Suggestibility in Police Interrogation: Self-Regulation Failure as a Primary Mechanism of Vulnerability, Deborah Davis, University of Nevada, Reno, Richard A. Leo, University of San Francisco – School of Law, 2012

Anne Ridley, ed., Investigative Suggestibility: THEORY, RESEARCH AND APPLICATIONS (John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 2012)
Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper

This chapter examines the failure of police, attorneys, judges, and juries to appreciate the magnitude of acute impairments of will and cognition in interrogation. The authors explore sources of enhanced susceptibility to interrogative influence triggered by the nature of the suspect’s immediate circumstances, rather than by chronic personal characteristics, which they call “acute interrogative suggestibility.” The authors consider the role of “interrogation-related regulatory decline” or IRRD in producing acute interrogative suggestibility — that is, the decline in self-regulation resources necessary to control thinking and behavior in service of resisting interrogative influence. In particular, the authors concentrate on three common but underappreciated sources of IRRD in police interrogation, one or more of which are present in most cases involving claims of involuntary or false confession: acute emotional distress, fatigue and sleep deprivation, and glucose depletion. The chapter concludes by arguing that much more weight should be given to issues of acute sources of vulnerability to influence and suggestion than is presently the case.

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