Making False Confessions Essay

Making False Confessions Essay

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Psychological research and application have established that it is not only people with learning disability or major mental illness that are susceptible to make false confessions. In order for a confession to be false, a person must either confess to a crime that he or she is completely innocent of or overstate his or her involvement in the crime. False confessions can be either voluntary or coerced. Although it is methodologically difficult to establish the frequency of false confessions, anecdotal evidence such as self-reports and case studies indicate that reported cases are only the ‘tip of the iceberg’. It appears that young people are particularly vulnerable and often make false confessions in order to protect others. Standardized psychological tests have been devised in order to assess personality factors such as suggestibility and compliance that render some people more vulnerable than others. The reason people make false confessions is typically due to a combination of factors such as psychological vulnerabilities, nature of the custodial confinement and the police interviewing tactics. Notorious cases of false confessions which have lead to the wrongful convictions of innocent people subsequently spending years in prison represent some of the worst cases of miscarriage of justice in Britain. One such cases, that of Engin Raghip of the so-called ‘Tottenham three’ will be discussed in the context of admissibility of psychological evidence in order to demonstrate how the judiciary has increasingly come to accept the psychological notion that most people, under certain circumstances, are susceptible to making false confessions.

In order to better understand why people confess to crimes they have not committed, Kassin an...


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...expert testimony in assessing the reliability of disputed confessions. The reason people make false confessions is typically due to a combination of factors such as psychological vulnerabilities, nature of the custodial confinement and the police interviewing tactics. Standardized psychological tests have been devised in order to assess personality factors such as suggestibility and compliance that render some people more vulnerable than others but these should never bee looked at in isolation. Studies indicate that reported cases are only the ‘tip of the iceberg’. It appears that young people are particularly vulnerable and often make false confessions in order to protect others. It is not only people with learning disability or major mental illness´ that are susceptible to make false confessions; depending on the context, anybody can.














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