Peter Blair | June 3, 2015 | False Confession
A recent study published by Psychological Science Magazine suggests that most people, if interrogated long enough by the police, would be inclined to confess to a crime that he or she did not do. In is not uncommon for law enforcement to question a suspect for hours, putting a great deal of pressure on the individual to confess to committing a crime. According to the study in Psychological Science Magazine, after about three hours of interrogation, false memories can begin to set in. This means a person may start to believe he or she is guilty, in response to the police’s intense prodding to confess. The study showed that most individuals even began to add false details when admitting to a crime that they did not do.
The study participants were individuals who had never been arrested for a crime, the article Psychological Science Magazine states. Facts from the participants lives were gathered by forensic science lecturer Julia Shaw of the University of Bedfordshire and forensic scientist Stephan Porter of the University of British Columbia. After three, 45-minute interviews were conducted, 70 percent of the study participants were persuaded that they did, in fact, commit a crime. The study revealed that one participant even provided numerous false details, believing she truly did the crime at hand. It is important to note that the interrogators used small details from the lives of the study participants sprinkled in during the interrogation. These included the name of a friend or the place where they grew up. So a little bit of truth added to false information led people to start to believe they were there when the crime was committed even though they were not.
The takeaway from the study is that memories can be edited and even created. People’s imaginations lead them to see the experience, making for a false reality, University of California Irvine psychologist Elizabeth Loftus told Psychological Science Magazine.
Memories can be altered or edited depending on the narrative being fed, and once your brain believes it to be true, your mind fills in any gaps to complete the story, she explained to the magazine.
“When the patchwork of memory gets stitched together and internalized, truth and fiction become indistinguishable,” said Loftus.
The Ohio Innocence Project exists to speak up for those who have been wrongly convicted of a crime. After grooling interrogation sessions, the individuals the group advocates for confessed to crimes they did not commit. According to the Ohio Innocence Project, false confessions are quite common. The group claims individuals even confess to murder when they can’t even identify anything about the victim or the correct details of the crime.
The study in Psychological Science Magazine strongly urges individuals to seek legal counsel when being questioned by police and suggests invoking the right to remain silent when being accused of a crime by law enforcement. A skilled criminal defense attorney works on behalf of his or her client to fight against the charges and protect his client’s rights.