Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 29–36 | Cite as

Coercive Interrogation of Eyewitnesses Can Produce False Accusations

Article

Abstract

In the current study we hypothesized – and found – that coercive interviewing increased the incidences of false accusations made by eyewitnesses. Fifty-nine university students participated in a laboratory study in participant-confederate pairs and were later interviewed about whether the confederate stole a research assistant’s cell phone. Participants interviewed using a Coercive Interview were significantly more likely to falsely accuse the confederate of stealing a cell phone than were participants interviewed using a non-coercive, Control Interview. Our findings raise questions regarding why participants gave false accusations and whether coercive methods could result in more accurate testimony from reluctant witnesses. We suggest the need for potential safeguards, such as the electronic recording of interviews of non-suspect witnesses to prevent or document the use of coercive methods.

Keywords

Interrogation Reid Technique Interviewing Eyewitnesses False Accusations False Confessions 

References

  1. Asch SE (1956) Studies of independence and conformity: A minority of one against a unanimous majority. Psychological Monographs 70(9):1–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bruck M, Melnyk L (2004) Individual differences in children's suggestibility: A review and synthesis. Applied Cognitive Psychology 18(8):947–996. doi:10.1002/acp.1070 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cialdini R (2009) Influence: Science and practice, 5th edn. Allyn & Bacon, BostonGoogle Scholar
  4. Cutler BL, Findley KA, Moore TE (2014) Interrogations and false confessions: A psychological perspective. Canadian Criminal Law Review 18:153–170Google Scholar
  5. Drizin SA, Leo RA (2004) The problem of false confessions in the post-DNA world. North Carolina Law Review 82:891–1007Google Scholar
  6. Fisher RP, Schreiber Compo N, Rivard J, Hirn D (2014) Interviewing Witnesses. In: Perfect T, Lindsay S (eds) The Sage Handbook of Applied Memory. Sage Publications, Los Angeles, pp 559–578CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Guyll M, Madon S, Yang Y, Lannin D, Scher K, Greathouse S (2013) Innocence and resisting confession during interrogation: Effects on psychological activity. Law and Human Behavior 37(5):366–375CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Inbau FE, Reid JE, Buckley JP, Jayne BC (2013) Criminal interrogation and confessions, 5th edn. Jones & Bartlett Learning, Burlington, MAGoogle Scholar
  9. Kaasa SO, Cauffman E, Clarke-Stewart KA, Loftus EF (2013) False accusations in an investigative context: Differences between suggestible and non-suggestible witnesses. Behavioural Sciences and the Law 31(5):574–592. doi:10.1002/bsl.2075 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kassin SM, Drizin SA, Grisso T, Gudjonsson GH, Leo RA, Redlich AD (2010) Police-induced confessions: Risk factors and recommendations. Law and Human Behavior 34(1):3–38CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Kassin S, Fein S, Markus HR (2011) Social psychology, 9th edn. Wadsorth Cengage Learning, Belmont, CAGoogle Scholar
  12. Kassin SM, Kiechel KL (1996) The social psychology of false confessions: Compliance, internalization, and confabulation. Psychological Science 7(3):125–128. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.1996.tb00344.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kelman HC, Hovland CI (1953) “Reinstatement” of the communicator in delayed measurement of opinion change. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 48(3):327–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Leo RA (1996) Inside the interrogation room. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 86(2):266–303. doi:10.2307/1144028 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Leo, R. A. & Davis, D. (2010). From false confession to wrongful conviction: Seven psychological processes. The Journal of Psychiatry & Law, 38/Spring-Summer, 9-56.Google Scholar
  16. Loftus EF, Pickrell JE (1995) The formation of false memories. Psychiatric Annals 25(12):720–725CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Moore, T. E., Cutler, B. L., & Shulman, D. (2014). Shaping eyewitness and alibi testimony with coercive interview practices. The Champion, October, 34-40.Google Scholar
  18. Moore TE, Fitzsimmons CL (2011) Justice Imperiled: False Confessions & the Reid technique. Criminal Law Quarterly 57(4):509–542Google Scholar
  19. Norris RJ, Redlich AD (2012) At-risk populations under investigation and at trial. In: Cutler BL (ed) Conviction of the innocent: Lessons from psychological research. American Psychological Association Press, Washington DC, pp 11–32Google Scholar
  20. Petty RE, Cacioppo JT (1986) Communication and persuasion: Central and peripheral routes to attitude change. Springer-Verlag, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Pornpitakpan C (2004) The persuasiveness of source credibility: A critical review of five decades’ evidence. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 34(2):243–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Russano M, Meissner C, Narchet F, Kassin S (2005) Investigating true and false confessions in a novel experimental paradigm. Psychological Science 16(6):481–486PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Tobin SJ, Raymundo MM (2009) Persuasion by casual arguments: The motivating role of perceived causal expertise. Social Cognition 27(1):105–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. R. v. Morgan, 2013 ONSC 6462, [2013] O.J. No. 5827.Google Scholar
  25. State v. Lawson, 352 Or. 724, 291 P.3d 673 (2012)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Society for Police and criminal Psychology 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Social Science & HumanitiesUniversity of Ontario Institute of TechnologyOshawaCanada

Personalised recommendations