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Cameras May Curb False Confessions

August 18, 2005
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Mandatory videotaping of all police interviews and interrogations may decrease false confessions.

Research described in a current issue of PsychologicalScience in the Public Interest reviews the science behind falseconfessions and argues for reform. Saul M. Kassin and Gisli H.Gudjonsson find that people sometimes confess to crimes they did notcommit for numerous reasons, and suggest recording the interviews andinterrogations as a way to curb these false statements.

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Theirresearch cites that age, amount of education, and mental health statusled to a higher number of individuals to falsely confess, as did sleepdeprivation and long periods of isolation. The study also addressespolice who are not properly trained to judge truth and deception, butare trained to use deceit to solicit confessions.

Explaining, "... modern police interrogations involve the use of high-impact socialinfluence techniques [and] sometimes people under the influence ofcertain techniques can be induced to confess to crimes they did notcommit." As a result, some people are eventually convinced of their ownguilt while others confess just to end the interrogation. Additionally,the authors address courts where juries are provided these voluntaryadmissions without instructions guiding them to make a judgmentnonetheless. People cannot readily distinguish between true and falseconfession and police-induced false confessions which often containvivid and accurate information.

In light of this, the authorscall for a collaboration among law-enforcement professionals, districtattorneys, defense lawyers, judges, social scientists, and policymakersto evaluate the methods of interrogation that are commonly used. Theybelieve that for people to accurately assess a confession, allinterviews and interrogations should be videotaped in their entirety.


This review is published in a current issue of Psychological Science in the Public Interest.

PsychologicalScience in the Public Interest provides definitive assessments oftopics where psychological science may have the potential to inform andimprove the lives of individuals and the well-being of society. It ispublished on behalf of the American Psychological Society.

SaulKassin is the Massachusetts Professor of Psychology and Founder ofLegal Studies at Williams College, in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Heis author of the several textbooks and has co-authored and edited anumber of scholarly books.

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The above story is based on materials provided by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. "Cameras May Curb False Confessions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 August 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050814174552.htm>.
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. (2005, August 18). Cameras May Curb False Confessions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050814174552.htm
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. "Cameras May Curb False Confessions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050814174552.htm (accessed January 30, 2015).

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