January 24, 2013
"

It turns out it’s actually not all that hard to get a confession out of an innocent person. The same high-pressure psychological techniques meant to wear down a guilty suspect will make a lot of innocent people confess to something they didn’t do. Since innocent people are more likely than criminals to waive their right to remain silent, they’re put in a high-stress situation where they’re not even clear about what they’re being charged with. They also may feel guilt for some unrelated reason (they saw the crime and failed to report or stop it, for example). So, they say whatever they need to say to make the interrogation end.


For instance, one popular interrogation technique has the interrogator give a monologue claiming he already knows the subject is guilty, and then follows nine scripted steps to get a signed confession. It’s incredibly effective — it gets guilty suspects to confess nearly 84 percent of the time. Oh, and it gets innocent people to confess approximately 43 percent of the time. Add hinting at fake evidence, and you can up that false confession rate to about 94 percent.

"

Lillian Marx

Let’s take up that last sentence a few more times:

"Add hinting at fake evidence, and you can up that false confession rate to about 94 percent."

"Add hinting at fake evidence, and you can up that false confession rate to about 94 percent."

"Add hinting at fake evidence, and you can up that false confession rate to about 94 percent."

So, that leaves the question: how often to interrogators hint at fake evidence during interrogations?

If you guessed often, you’re on the right track.  If you guess quite often, you’d be correct.

Related: Perillo & Kassin (2010) (discussing the basis of the 94 percent figure).

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