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How downplaying or exaggerating crime severity in a confession affects perceived guilt

Citation

Holt, G and Palmer, MA, How downplaying or exaggerating crime severity in a confession affects perceived guilt, Psychiatry Psychology and Law ISSN 1321-8719 (2020) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© 2020 The Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law

DOI: doi:10.1080/13218719.2020.1837027

Abstract

This study investigates how judgments of guilt are influenced by factual errors in confessions that either amplify or downplay the severity of the crime. Participants read a confession statement and police report in which either the confession was consistent with the police report, the suspect admitted to a worse crime or the suspect admitted to a lesser crime. Mediation analyses showed that, compared to consistent confessions, both types of directional errors reduced judgments of guilt. Inconsistencies that made the suspect look better – but not those that made the suspect look worse –also increased judgments of guilt via a direct effect. Confessions that contain errors that appear to exaggerate the severity of the crime prompt no higher judgments of suspect guilt; however, errors in confessions that are perceived to downplay the severity of the crime can prompt an increased perception of suspect guilt compared to a consistent confession.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:attribution theory, false confession, juror decision-making, inconsistencies, wrongful conviction
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Applied and developmental psychology
Research Field:Forensic psychology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:Palmer, MA (Associate Professor Matt Palmer)
ID Code:143206
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2021-03-05
Last Modified:2021-05-26
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