Date of Degree

9-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Psychology

Advisor

Saul Kassin

Committee Members

Angela Crossman

Charles Stone

Charles Honts

Timothy Luke

Subject Categories

Criminology and Criminal Justice | Psychology

Abstract

Confronting suspects with feedback, such as “We know you are lying, you need to tell us the truth,” during an interrogation is a common tactic used by police. Can this feedback influence the perceptions of factfinders who later observe video recordings of these sessions? Amrom et al. (2020) proposed two pathways through which feedback might affect observers: a direct feedback pathway by which observers infer the suspect’s credibility from the interviewer’s feedback, and an indirect misattribution pathway by which observers infer credibility from the suspect’s feedback-induced change in demeanor. Given the increasing frequency with which interrogations are video recorded for presentation in court, it is important to understand how information transmitted in these videos can influence factfinders’ perceptions of suspects.

This dissertation is an extension of research conducted by Amrom et al. (2020). The aims were twofold: (1) To strengthen the ecological validity by enhancing the feedback and the stakes for the participant suspects during an accusatory interview and (2) to explore how contextual information about the interviewer’s competence and the suspect’s incentives moderated this feedback effect.

To address these aims, three experiments were conducted. Although the results demonstrated that all suspects claimed to be innocent and extremely truthful during the interview (Study 1), observers’ perceptions of guilt and truthfulness were influenced by the interviewer’s feedback. Specifically, evidence for the indirect misattribution hypothesis was found with regard to perceptions of guilt in Study 2. Additionally, support for the direct feedback hypothesis with regard to perceptions of truthfulness was found in Study 3. The findings are discussed in relation to the impact of presenting interrogation videos in court to jurors.

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