Selling Confession: Setting the Stage with the ‘Sympathetic Detective with a Time-Limited Offer’
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, Forthcoming
29 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2010 Last revised: 6 Dec 2010
Date Written: April 1, 2010
The effectiveness of an interrogation tactic dubbed the “sympathetic detective with a time limited offer” was tested. Participants read two versions of an interrogation transcript, with and without the tactic. Those who read the sympathetic detective version believed the detective had greater authority to determine whether and with what to charge the suspect, more beneficent intentions toward the suspect, and viewed confession as more wise. However, regression analyses indicated that for innocent suspects, only perceptions of the strength of evidence against the suspect and the detective’s beneficence and authority predicted the perceived wisdom of false confession. Interrogation tactics were generally effective, as indicated by participant recommendations of confession (versus invoking Miranda, denial, or continuing to talk without admitting guilt) for both innocent (16.7%) and guilty (74.4%) suspects; and reasons offered for participants’ recommendations for confession versus other choices generally conformed to those reported by real-life confessors and interrogation scholars.
Keywords: interrogation, false confession, sympathy, authority, beneficence
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