Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Videotaped Confessions Can Create Bias Against A Suspect

Date:
March 15, 2007
Source:
Ohio University
Summary:
Police often videotape interrogations of suspects for use in criminal trials. Video confessions that focus exclusively on the suspect, however, can bias judges and law enforcement officers to consider the suspect's statements as voluntary, according to a new Ohio University study.

In this mock interview, an innocent suspect can appear guilty when the video camera focuses primarily on the suspect.
Credit: Daniel Lassiter: Ohio University

Police often videotape interrogations of suspects for use in criminal trials. Video confessions that focus exclusively on the suspect, however, can bias judges and law enforcement officers to consider the suspect’s statements as voluntary, according to a new Ohio University study.

In more than 25 percent of wrongful convictions exonerated by DNA testing, innocent defendants made incriminating statements, delivered outright confessions or pled guilty, according to the Innocence Project. Police interrogation tactics – which include exaggerating the evidence against the suspect or implying the suspect could face an extreme sentence – can prompt a suspect to make a false confession, said Daniel Lassiter, an Ohio University professor of psychology.

In videotaped confessions, many law enforcement agencies focus the camera on only the suspect. Lassiter’s research shows that this practice creates what he calls a camera-perspective bias that leads trial participants to view the confessions as voluntary, regardless of how interrogators obtained them.

In the recent study, published in the March issue of Psychological Science, Lassiter and colleagues from Northwestern University and the American Bar Foundation asked 21 judges and 24 law-enforcement officers to view a videotaped mock confession. The researchers presented participants with different versions of the confession in which the camera focused on only the suspect, only the detective, or both suspect and detective. Participants assessed how voluntarily the suspect confessed in each case.

The study found that judges and law enforcement officers considered the suspect-focus version of the confession to be more voluntary than the equal-focus and detective-focus versions.

“The phenomenon (camera-perspective bias) is rooted in a naturally occurring perceptual bias that affects everyone and which cannot be readily overcome regardless of people’s expertise or the amount of professional training they have received,” Lassiter said.

Though some in the legal field have been skeptical of such research, this study’s use of judges and law enforcement officers as participants demonstrates the real-world relevance of the work.

“It’s a challenge in psychological research to move in a persuasive way from the laboratory setting, and this is an important next step that builds on the long program of research that Dr. Lassiter pioneered,” said Shari Seidman Diamond, Northwestern University Howard J. Trienens Professor of Law and co-author of the paper.

Lassiter’s two decades of videotape interrogation research have led to changes in law enforcement policy. New Zealand, Wisconsin and Virginia, as well as the Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing, have used his work to push for amended regulations. Lassiter hopes his research eventually will influence wider legislative reform that would require equal-focus videotaping.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Ohio University. "Videotaped Confessions Can Create Bias Against A Suspect." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070314093304.htm>.
Ohio University. (2007, March 15). Videotaped Confessions Can Create Bias Against A Suspect. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070314093304.htm
Ohio University. "Videotaped Confessions Can Create Bias Against A Suspect." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070314093304.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) Chinese researchers have expanded on Cold War-era tech and are closer to building a submarine that could reach the speed of sound. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) An acute coal shortage is likely to be aggravated as India's supreme court declared government coal allocations illegal, says Breakingviews' Peter Thal Larsen. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins