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“I'm Innocent!”: Effects of Training on Judgments of Truth and Deception in the Interrogation Room

Abstract

The present research examined the extent to which people can distinguish true and false denials made in a criminal interrogation, and tested the hypothesis that training in the use of verbal and nonverbal cues increases the accuracy of these judgments. In Phase One, 16 participants committed one of four mock crimes (breaking and entering, vandalism, shoplifting, a computer break-in) or a related but innocent act. Given incentives to deny involvement rather than confess, these suspects were then interrogated. In Phase Two, 40 observers were either trained in the analysis of verbal and nonverbal deception cues or not trained before viewing the videotaped interrogations and making their judgments. As in past studies conducted in nonforensic settings, observers were generally unable to distinguish between truthful and deceptive suspects. In addition, those who underwent training were less accurate than naive controls—though they were more confident and cited more reasons for their judgments. The implications of these findings are discussed in light of what is known about police interrogations, false confessions, and the wrongful conviction of innocent suspects.

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Correspondence to Saul M. Kassin.

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Kassin, S.M., Fong, C.T. “I'm Innocent!”: Effects of Training on Judgments of Truth and Deception in the Interrogation Room. Law Hum Behav 23, 499–516 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022330011811

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Keywords

  • Social Psychology
  • Past Study
  • Police Interrogation
  • Wrongful Conviction
  • False Confession