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NCJ Number: 227794 Find in a Library
Title: Perceptions of Coercion in the Questioning of Criminal Suspects
Journal: Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling  Volume:4  Issue:2  Dated:June 2007  Pages:85-95
Author(s): Stephen Moston; Megan Fisher
Date Published: June 2007
Page Count: 11
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: Two hundred mock jurors in Australia (undergraduate students at an Australian university) were asked to rate the acceptability of 13 common police interviewing techniques used in attempting to gain confessions from suspects.
Abstract: Many of the interview tactics examined were rated by the mock jurors as 'acceptable', with 95 percent of the respondents viewing 'general prompts' as acceptable. Directly asking the suspect about his/her involvement in the crime 'direct approach' was also considered acceptable by the majority of participants. This tactic aims to appeal to the suspect on moral grounds, i.e., to relieve his/her conscience by telling the truth. Showing 'concern for suspect welfare' was among the more highly endorsed tactics; this tactic contributes to rapport building and conveys to the suspect that the interviewer values the suspect as a person and is not judging him/her. The results indicate, however that there is a continuum of acceptability for interrogation tactics; e.g., the majority of respondents indicated that 'pointing out contradictions' in the testimony of a suspect was acceptable, but 'directly challenging a contradiction' between the statement of a suspect and that of a witness did not receive the same level of endorsement. The three tactics rated as 'unacceptable' by the majority of respondents involved 'pointing out deception cues', 'minimization of the crime', and 'implied omnipotence'. These are all relatively common interview tactics. All three tactics involve an attempt by the interviewer to alter the suspect's perception of some aspects of their performance in the interview. None of the tactics were assessed on the basis of their evidence-based effectiveness in gaining confessions. They were assessed according to their level of acceptable coercion of the suspect, with unacceptable coercion viewed as manipulation likely to lead to false confessions or violations of suspects' rights. 2 tables and 32 references
Main Term(s): Police policies and procedures
Index Term(s): Australia; Foreign criminal justice research; Interview and interrogation; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Public Opinion of the Police
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