Effects of Personality, Interrogation Techniques and Plausibility in an Experimental False Confession Paradigm – Article Review Summary

Klaver, J. R., Lee, Z., & Rose, V. G. (2008).Effects of personality, interrogation techniques and plausibility in an experimental false confession paradigm.Legal and Criminological Psychology, 13.71-88.

Reason for Conducting the Study

The research was conducted to determine the effect of interrogation techniques, personality variables, and the alleged transgression plausibility level on the false confessions experimental elicitation. It aims at determining factors which might be associated with the false confessions experimental elicitation by use of paradigm. The paradigm aspects considered in this research include locus of control, self-esteem, interrogative suggestibility, and effect of compliance on internalization and false confession.

Research Question

Do suspect age, gender, ethnicity, personality variable and method of interrogation influence individual false confession behaviors?


The research hypothesis is that false confession is influenced by suspect age, gender, ethnicity, personality variables and method of interrogation

Independent and Dependent Variables and their Operationalization

The research focuses on determining factors that influence false confession and whether they are dependent on age, gender, ethnicity, level of education, interrogation techniques, and level of persuasion. Thus, independent variables included age, gender and ethnicity, level of education, interrogation techniques, and level of persuasion. The dependent variable is the false confession.

The Research Participants and the Instrument Used to Collect Data

The research engaged 219 western Canadian university students as the research participants. Participants were aged between 18 and 45 years. They included both male and female at the ration of 21% and 79% respectively. The 219 participants were from three different ethnicities where 36% were Asian, 49% were Caucasian and 15% originated from an ethnicity regarded as another and with different level of education. The research used four instruments to collect data or to conduct the required assessment. The first instrument was Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale (GSS), which is a memory task structured to assess interrogative suggestibility. The second Instrument wasGodjonsson Compliance Scale (GCS), which a self-report questionnaire with 20-item, assessing the tendency to obey to requests of others especially authority, and to avoid confrontation and conflict. Third Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, which is self-report 10-item scale assessing self-worth feelings.The fourth tool was Rotter Internal-External Locus of Control Scale which is a personal belies inventory containing self-report with 29-itemassessing the level to which a person feels in control of her or his life circumstances. The research investigated on participants typing skills, memory, and personality via self-assessment using the above identified tools.

The result of the analysis indicated that the general rates of false internalization and false confession across all situations were 10% and 43% respectively. Higher false confession behavior likelihood was related with the utilization of minimization interrogation methods, greater shift scores on GSS, and rise in the allegation plausibility. With regard to gender, female were highly probable to confess falsely compared to men in a highly plausibility situation. With regard to ethnicity, both Asian and Caucasian participants were equally probable to confess falsely. It was also established that Asians and males behavior was mostly influenced by personality variables like personality.

Researched Conclusion

According the researchers the study results provide an insight into behavior of false confession, where it is proposed that people who are inclined to change their answers in the negative feedback face might be more disposed to false confession behavior. The results also demonstrate the negativity of utilizing minimization interrogation method and illuminate the limited paradigm generalizability to conditions where in the assumed transgression is not reasonable.

Study Critics

Although the research focused on reviewing the aspects of age and education with regard to falsely confession, the final results do not give a clear cut on how the two can influence it. Moreover, the used paradigm is restricted by its aptitude to represent actual legal situations, thus this may not be practical.

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