Interrogations & Confessions

Research on police interrogations and confessions has generally examined the likelihood that certain techniques might lead individuals to falsely confess to an act that they did not commit (cf. Kassin & Kiechel, 1996).  The limitations of this approach, in which only false confessions were extracted for an act that was incidental in nature (accidental key press on a computer), seemed clear to us and thereby motivated us to create a new approach.  We have recently developed a novel experimental paradigm for assessing the diagnostic value of interrogation tactics in which both "innocent" and "guilty" participants are accused of cheating in an academic setting, and a confession is sought via a variety of techniques by an interrogator that is blind to the guilt-innocence of the participant.  Our research in this area has permitted us to explore common interrogation techniques that are advocated by modern interrogation manuals (e.g., the "Reid Technique"), including aspects of implied vs. direct leniency, minimization vs. maximization of the seriousness of the offense, and the presentation of false evidence.  We have also investigated the role of investigator bias in the implementation of longer and more coercive interrogations, and whether certain, less psychologically coercive, interrogation techniques might be created that could improve the diagnostic value of interrogations (i.e., increase true confessions while reducing false confessions).  Selected publications are provided below.  

Kassin, S. M., Leo, R. A., Meissner, C. A., Richman, K. D., Colwell, L. H., Leach, A-M., & LaFon, D. (2007). Police interviewing and interrogation: A self-report survey of police practices and beliefs. Law & Human Behavior, 31, 381-400.

Lassiter, G. D., Meissner, C. A., & Redlich, A. D. (under contract). False confessions. New York, NY: NYU Press.

Lassiter, G. D., & Meissner, C. A. (2009). Interrogations and confessions: Research, practice, and policy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Lassiter, G. D., Meissner, C. A., Ware, L. J., Marcon, J. L., & Lassiter, K. D. (in press). Interrogations and confessions: A conference long overdue. To appear in G. D. Lassiter & C. Meissnerís (Eds.) Interrogations and confessions: Research, practice, and policy. Washington, DC: APA.

Meissner, C. A., & Albrechtsen, J. S. (2007). Interrogation and torture. McGraw-Hill 2007 Yearbook of Science & Technology (pp. 125-127), New York: McGraw-Hill.

Meissner, C. A., Horgan, A. J., & Albrechtsen, J. S. (in press). False confessions. To appear in R. Kocsisí (Ed.), Applied criminal psychology: A guide to forensic behavioral sciences. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publisher, LTD.

Meissner, C. A., & Russano, M. B. (2003). The psychology of interrogations and false confessions: Research and recommendations. Canadian Journal of Police & Security Services, 1, 53-64.

Meissner, C. A., Russano, M. B., & Narchet, F. M. (in press). The importance of a laboratory science for understanding the psychological processes underlying interrogations and confessions. To appear in G. D. Lassiter & C. Meissnerís (Eds.) Interrogations and confessions: Research, practice, and policy. Washington, DC: APA.

Redlich, A. D., & Meissner, C. A. (in press). Techniques and controversies in the interrogation of suspects: The artful practice versus the scientific study. To appear in J. Skeem et al. (Eds.), Psychological science in the courtroom: Controversies and consensus. Guilford Press.

Russano, M. B., Meissner, C. A., Narchet, F. M., & Kassin, S. M. (2005). Investigating true and false confessions within a novel experimental paradigm. Psychological Science, 16, 481-486.

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Investigative Interviewing Research Laboratory
Eyewitness Memory  *  Detecting Deception  *  Interrogations & Confessions

Experimental Stimuli