False confessions in the laboratory: Do plausibility and consequences matter?

R. Horselenberg*, H. Merckelbach, T. Smeets, D. Franssens, G.J. Peters, G. Zeles

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleProfessional


The present paper describes three studies that examined false confessions in the laboratory. Studies 1 (N=56) and 2 (N=9) relied on the by now classic computer crash paradigm introduced by Kassin and Kiechel (Psychological Science, 7, 125-128, 1996). Study 3 (N=12) employed a novel paradigm in which undergraduate participants were falsely accused of exam fraud. Our data indicate that false confessions do occur, even when conditions become more ecologically valid. Furthermore, we explored whether individual differences in compliance, suggestibility, fantasy proneness, dissociation, and cognitive failures are related to false confessions. Of these, only fantasy proneness was associated with false confessions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-76
JournalPsychology Crime & Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006

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