The Social Psychology of Police Interrogation: The Theory and Classification of True and False Confessions

Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol. 16, 1997

32 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2008  

Richard A. Leo

University of San Francisco - School of Law

Richard J. Ofshe

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Sociology

Abstract

This article (1) develops a social psychological decision-making model that describes the methods of influence through which interrogation proceeds and identifies the factors leading the guilty and the innocent to decide to confess; (2) Specifies the sequence and effects of the tactical moves through which interrogators influence suspects decisions; (3) Describes the variety of types of confessions and their differentiating characteristics; and (4) Develops and illustrates through case materials of a classification system for categorizing types of statements made in response to interrogation. Together, the decision-making model and the expanded classification system provide a framework for explaining the process of police interrogation as it is practiced in the United States.

Keywords: Criminal procedure, criminal justice, law enforcement, police interrogations, false confessions

Suggested Citation

Leo, Richard A. and Ofshe, Richard J., The Social Psychology of Police Interrogation: The Theory and Classification of True and False Confessions. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1141368

Richard A. Leo (Contact Author)

University of San Francisco - School of Law ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States

Richard J. Ofshe

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Sociology ( email )

410 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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