Comparison of the Effects of Two Types of False Evidence on Rates of False Confessions in a Reid Technique-Style Interrogation Paradigm

Of the first 250 convicted persons later proven innocent through DNA evidence, 16% had falsely confessed during the police investigation. Law enforcement interrogators' increasingly psychological methods frequently employ deception and manipulation accompanied by false evidence during these investigations, despite the fact that many studies have found that such evidence can greatly increase false confessions. Building on the literature, this experiment is the first to compare and contrast the impact of two particular types of false evidence on false confession rates during a Reid Technique-style interrogation: polygraph readings and a confederate accusation. The initial hypothesis posited that the polygraph equipment would elicit more false confessions than the confederate accusation. Because a small sample size precluded formal statistical analysis, the researchers are uncertain as to the broad applicability of these findings, but the results appear to indicate that statements made by a confederate "eyewitness" are more likely to induce false confessions than falsified polygraph data.