Psychological and Cultural Aspects of Interrogations and False Confessions: Using Research to Inform Legal Decision-Making

PSYCHOLOGICAL EXPERTISE IN COURT: PSYCHOLOGY IN THE COURTROOM, Daniel A. Krauss, Joes D. Lieberman, eds., Ashgate, 2009

Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2011-06

34 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2010 Last revised: 25 Mar 2011

Richard A. Leo

University of San Francisco - School of Law

Mark Costanzo

Claremont McKenna College

Netta Shaked-Schroer

Claremont Colleges - Claremont Graduate University

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

False confessions are a major cause of wrongful convictions. In many countries, physical abuse and torture are still used to extract confessions from criminal suspects. Cultural orientations such as collectivism and power distance may influence the tendency to confess, and a suspect's past experience in a country that uses physical abuse during interrogations may render suspects fearful and more prone to falsely confess. After looking at interrogations outside the United States, we examine the issue of why false confessions sometime occur in the U.S. legal system. We prove an overview of the stages of a typical interrogation and provide a psychological analysis of the array of tactics used by police interrogators. Finally, we describe several reforms that hold the potential to dramatically reduce the risk of false confessions.

Keywords: wrongful convictions, false confessions, interrogations, police, law enforcement

Suggested Citation

Leo, Richard A. and Costanzo, Mark and Shaked-Schroer, Netta, Psychological and Cultural Aspects of Interrogations and False Confessions: Using Research to Inform Legal Decision-Making (2009). PSYCHOLOGICAL EXPERTISE IN COURT: PSYCHOLOGY IN THE COURTROOM, Daniel A. Krauss, Joes D. Lieberman, eds., Ashgate, 2009 ; Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2011-06. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1537331

Richard A. Leo (Contact Author)

University of San Francisco - School of Law ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States

Mark Costanzo

Claremont McKenna College ( email )

500 E. Ninth Street
Claremont, CA 91711
United States

Netta Shaked-Schroer

Claremont Colleges - Claremont Graduate University ( email )

150 E. Tenth Street
Claremont, CA 91711
United States

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