False confessions anyone

The aim of this study was to model various social and cognitive processes believed to be associated with true and false confessions by exploring the link between investigative biases [1] and what occurs in the interrogation room. Using the Russano et al. (Psychol Sci 16:481–486, 2005) paradigm, this study explored how perceptions of guilt influenced the frequency and type of interrogation tactics used, suspect’s perceptions of the interrogation process, the likelihood of confession, and investigator’s resulting perceptions of culpability. Results suggested that investigator bias led to the increased use of minimization tactics and thereby increased the likelihood of false confessions by innocent participants. In contrast, the manipulation of investigator bias had no direct or indirect influence on guilty participants. These findings confirm the important role of investigator bias and improve our understanding of the decision-making process associated with true and false confessions.

Fadia M. Narchet, Christian A. Meissner and Melissa B. Russano, Modeling the Influence of Investigator Bias on the Elicitation of True and False Confessions, J. Law & Human Behavior (Dec. 2010).


[1]  Another term for confirmation bias.