Acute Suggestibility in Police Interrogation: Self-Regulation Failure as a Primary Mechanism of Vulnerability

in Anne Ridley, ed., Suggestibility in Legal Contexts: Psychological Research and Forensic Applications, (John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 2013).

Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper

13 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2012 Last revised: 20 Apr 2016

Deborah Davis

University of Nevada, Reno

Richard A. Leo

University of San Francisco - School of Law

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

This chapter examines the failure of police, attorneys, judges, and juries to appreciate the magnitude of acute impairments of will and cognition in interrogation. The authors explore sources of enhanced susceptibility to interrogative influence triggered by the nature of the suspect’s immediate circumstances, rather than by chronic personal characteristics, which they call “acute interrogative suggestibility.” The authors consider the role of “interrogation-related regulatory decline” or IRRD in producing acute interrogative suggestibility -- that is, the decline in self-regulation resources necessary to control thinking and behavior in service of resisting interrogative influence. In particular, the authors concentrate on three common but underappreciated sources of IRRD in police interrogation, one or more of which are present in most cases involving claims of involuntary or false confession: acute emotional distress, fatigue and sleep deprivation, and glucose depletion. The chapter concludes by arguing that much more weight should be given to issues of acute sources of vulnerability to influence and suggestion than is presently the case.

Keywords: police interrogation, criminal law, criminal procedure, interrogation-related regulatory decline, self-regulation failure, false confession

Suggested Citation

Davis, Deborah and Leo, Richard A., Acute Suggestibility in Police Interrogation: Self-Regulation Failure as a Primary Mechanism of Vulnerability (2012). in Anne Ridley, ed., Suggestibility in Legal Contexts: Psychological Research and Forensic Applications, (John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 2013). ; Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2103410

Deborah Davis (Contact Author)

University of Nevada, Reno ( email )

Reno, NV 89557
United States

Richard A. Leo

University of San Francisco - School of Law ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States

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