The combined effects of questioning technique and interviewer manner on false confessions

Wendy Paton, Stella A. Bain, Lynsey Gozna, Elizabeth Gilchrist, Derek Heim, Euan Gardner, David Cairns, Paul McGranaghan, Rico Fischer

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Abstract

While it is known that interrogation tactics can elicit false confessions and interviewer
manner may determine the outcome of an interview, the combined effects of questioning
technique and interviewer manner on false confessions has not been examined empirically.
Following a false accusation of theft, participants were interviewed in one of four questioning
conditions (minimisation, repetitive questioning, leading questions and non-leading
questions) in which interviewers adopted a stern or friendly manner. Perceptions of pressure
to confess and interviewer behaviours were measured. Significantly more false confessions
were elicited using non-leading questions rather than repetitive questioning. More false
confessions were elicited in the friendly interviewer condition than in the stern interviewer
condition. Neither interviewer manner nor questioning technique had a significant effect on
subjective ratings of pressure to confess. The finding that false confessions may be elicited in
the absence of coercive tactics may have implications for informing best practices in
investigative interviewing
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-349
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sep 2018

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  • Cite this

    Paton, W., Bain, S. A., Gozna, L., Gilchrist, E., Heim, D., Gardner, E., Cairns, D., McGranaghan, P., & Fischer, R. (2018). The combined effects of questioning technique and interviewer manner on false confessions. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 15(3), 335-349. https://doi.org/10.1002/jip.1513