False Confessions and the Use of Incriminating Evidence

Tim Cole, JC Bruno Teboul, David E Zulawski, Douglas E Wicklander, Shane G Sturman


To date, few experimental studies have looked at the factors that influence people’s willingness to confess to something they did not do.  One widely cited experiment on the topic (i.e., Kassin & Kiechel, 1996) has suggested that false confessions are easy to obtain and that the use of false incriminating evidence increases the likelihood of obtaining one.  The present research attempted to replicate Kassin and Kiechel’s (1996) work using a different experimental task.  In the present experiment, unlike Kassin and Kiechel’s (1996) study, the participants were completely certain that they were not responsible for what had happened, thereby providing a different context for testing the idea that false incriminating evidence increases the likelihood of obtaining a false confession.  The results are discussed with respect to factors that may or may not increase individuals’ willingness to offer a false admission of guilt.


false confession, subjective awareness, incriminating evidence, interrogation techniques

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/lesli.2013.4


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