Exploring False Admissions

Exploring False Admissions and using the Prisoner’s Dilemma Paradigm

Co-Researcher: Robert Norris 

Abstract
The Prisoner’s Dilemma, one of the most well-known psychological paradigms, is also a recommended and effective police interrogation technique. Several wrongful conviction cases involving false confession cases and snitches have involved co-suspects informing on another. Using the Prisoner’s Dilemma, we examine decisions to confess when suspects and co-suspects were guilty versus innocent, and when the co-suspect was a best friend versus an acquaintance. We found main effects of guilt-innocence and friend condition, as well as interactions between these factors. The present study has implications for false confessions and snitch testimony, two leading causes of wrongful convictions. Understanding the circumstances under which suspects do and do not confess and inform on co-suspects can help prevent these miscarriages of justice.