Deceiving suspects about their alibi is equally harmful to the innocent and guilty

Melanie Sauerland*, Alana C. Krix, Anna Sagana

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

A common belief in police officers is that guilty suspects' statements are less consistent than innocent suspects'. This could leave guilty suspects more vulnerable to missing inconsistencies externally induced into their alibis. Source monitoring and cognitive load approaches suggest that untruthfulness rather than guilt should predict proneness to such deception. Manipulating both guilt and truthfulness, we tested these opposing hypotheses. One hundred twenty‐six participants were accused of stealing gift vouchers after wandering about a building. When interviewed several days later, participants rarely detected alterations in their alibi (23–29%). Unexpectedly, for one of three detection measures, untruthful participants detected more manipulations than did truthful participants. Guilt did not moderate detection rates. Manipulations were equally harmful for guilty and innocent suspects, and blindness to the alibi manipulations was not useful for discriminating innocent from guilty suspects. Because blindness effects are easy to elicit in the legal context, techniques that externally induce inconsistencies should be avoided.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1238-1246
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Volume33
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

Keywords

  • choice blindness
  • deceptive interrogation
  • decisional blindness
  • inconsistency
  • misinformation
  • FORENSIC CONFIRMATION BIAS
  • DECEPTION DETECTION
  • CHOICE BLINDNESS
  • MEMORY
  • BELIEVABILITY
  • RECOGNITION
  • CONSEQUENCES
  • GENERATION
  • ILLUSION
  • FAILURE

Cite this

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title = "Deceiving suspects about their alibi is equally harmful to the innocent and guilty",
abstract = "A common belief in police officers is that guilty suspects' statements are less consistent than innocent suspects'. This could leave guilty suspects more vulnerable to missing inconsistencies externally induced into their alibis. Source monitoring and cognitive load approaches suggest that untruthfulness rather than guilt should predict proneness to such deception. Manipulating both guilt and truthfulness, we tested these opposing hypotheses. One hundred twenty‐six participants were accused of stealing gift vouchers after wandering about a building. When interviewed several days later, participants rarely detected alterations in their alibi (23–29{\%}). Unexpectedly, for one of three detection measures, untruthful participants detected more manipulations than did truthful participants. Guilt did not moderate detection rates. Manipulations were equally harmful for guilty and innocent suspects, and blindness to the alibi manipulations was not useful for discriminating innocent from guilty suspects. Because blindness effects are easy to elicit in the legal context, techniques that externally induce inconsistencies should be avoided.",
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language = "English",
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Deceiving suspects about their alibi is equally harmful to the innocent and guilty. / Sauerland, Melanie; Krix, Alana C.; Sagana, Anna.

In: Applied Cognitive Psychology, Vol. 33, No. 6, 11.2019, p. 1238-1246.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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AB - A common belief in police officers is that guilty suspects' statements are less consistent than innocent suspects'. This could leave guilty suspects more vulnerable to missing inconsistencies externally induced into their alibis. Source monitoring and cognitive load approaches suggest that untruthfulness rather than guilt should predict proneness to such deception. Manipulating both guilt and truthfulness, we tested these opposing hypotheses. One hundred twenty‐six participants were accused of stealing gift vouchers after wandering about a building. When interviewed several days later, participants rarely detected alterations in their alibi (23–29%). Unexpectedly, for one of three detection measures, untruthful participants detected more manipulations than did truthful participants. Guilt did not moderate detection rates. Manipulations were equally harmful for guilty and innocent suspects, and blindness to the alibi manipulations was not useful for discriminating innocent from guilty suspects. Because blindness effects are easy to elicit in the legal context, techniques that externally induce inconsistencies should be avoided.

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