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

Holt, G and Palmer, MA ORCID: 0000-0002-3467-3364 2020 , 'How downplaying or exaggerating crime severity in a confession affects perceived guilt' , Psychiatry Psychology and Law , doi: 10.1080/13218719.2020.1837027.

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

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Holt, G and Palmer, MA
Keywords: attribution theory, false confession, juror decision-making, inconsistencies, wrongful conviction
Journal or Publication Title: Psychiatry Psychology and Law
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 1321-8719
DOI / ID Number: 10.1080/13218719.2020.1837027
Copyright Information:

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

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