Sleep Deprivation and False Confessions
PNAS, Vol. 113, No.8, 2016, pp.2047-2050
8 Pages Posted: 13 May 2016
Date Written: May 11, 2016
False confession is a major contributor to the problem of wrongful convictions in the United States. Here, we provide direct evidence linking sleep deprivation and false confessions. In a procedure adapted from Kassin and Kiechel [(1996) Psychol Sci 7(3):125–128], participants completed computer tasks across multiple sessions and repeatedly received warnings that pressing the “Escape” key on their keyboard would cause the loss of study data. In their final session, participants either slept all night in laboratory bedrooms or remained awake all night. In the morning, all participants were asked to sign a statement, which summarized their activities in the laboratory and falsely alleged that they pressed the Escape key during an earlier session. After a single request, the odds of signing were 4.5 times higher for the sleep-deprived participants than for the rested participants. These findings have important implications and highlight the need for further research on factors affecting true and false confessions.
Keywords: false confession, sleep depreivation, sleep
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