Mock-suspects’ decisions to confess: the accuracy of eyewitness evidence is critical
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Forty participants were asked to commit a mock-crime that involved them stealing a cell-phone. Later the mock-offenders were questioned and evidence was presented to them from a witness who was said to have seen the offence. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions in which they were presented with a witness statement that either contained detailed information concerning their description and their actions, or not-detailed information. For half the participants in each condition the information was correct, while for the other half some of the information was incorrect. The results show that participants were more likely to confess if the evidence against them was accurate, but the level of detail of the evidence made no difference. Participants who had accurate evidence presented against them felt more guilty than those who had less accurate evidence against them. The results are discussed in relation to police interviewing techniques.
Applied Cognitive Psychology