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Doctoral Dissertation Research:  “It’s (Not) Your Fault” – The Influence of Blame Mitigation and Guilt Induction on True Versus False Confessions

False confessions remain an important social problem facing our criminal justice system. Research suggests that interrogation themes (which are similar to blame mitigation techniques; Malle, Guglielmo, & Monroe, 2014) can increase false confessions by minimizing a suspect’s perceptions of the consequences associated with confession (Horgan, Russano, Meissner, & Evans, 2012; Kassin et al., 2010). Proponents of these methods, however, assert that interrogation themes can minimize a suspect’s perceptions of moral responsibility independently from perceptions of legal consequences (Inbau, Reid, Buckley, & Jayne, 2011). However, blame mitigation research suggests that perceptions of responsibility are closely tied to decisions regarding punishment (e.g., Shultz, Schleifer, & Altman, 1981). Additionally, interrogation themes are designed to reduce a suspect’s feelings of guilt (Inbau et al., 2011), which may actually inhibit confessions from guilty suspects; true confessions are related to feelings of guilt and remorse (Houston, Meissner, & Evans, 2014). Thus, it may be beneficial to induce guilt rather than mitigate blame. The proposed dissertation addresses two primary aims: (1) to test practitioners’ assumption that blame mitigation can influence a suspect’s perceptions of his or her moral responsibility without also affecting perceptions of legal responsibility (i.e., punishment), and (2) to assess whether guilt induction as an interrogation technique produces more diagnostic outcomes (i.e., higher true-to-false confession ratio; Russano, Meissner, Narchet, & Kassin, 2005) when compared with blame mitigation or a direct questioning control method, and whether feelings of guilt and perceptions of responsibility and punishment mediate these effects.
 

Researcher(s) 

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CHRIS MEISSNER, Ph.D., PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Iowa State University

Professor

Department of Psychology







 Woestehoff  

SKYE WOESTEHOFF

The University of Texas at El Paso

Ph.D. Student

Department of Psychology 

 

MeissnerWoestLab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Effectiveness of Army Field Manual Interrogation Techniques Through the Development of Specific Dimensions of Rapport”

Executive Order 13491 limited interrogators to the use of interrogation approaches listed in the Army Field Manual 2 22.3. Very little research has evaluated these approaches. The proposed study will examine the effectiveness of Change of Scenery and We Know All Approaches, in combination with other approaches, with 120 participants. There is no research examining the independent use of either of these approaches. However, they have been referenced in the scientific literature on interrogation as being useful for educing information from sources. In addition, this study will evaluate how these approaches may impact specific dimensions of rapport, and how the effectiveness of the approaches may depend upon personality characteristics of the source. These goals will be accomplished through the implementation of an experimental study utilizing a tested interrogation research paradigm that retains psychological realism. It is anticipated that the Change of Scenery and We Know All Approaches will be effective above and beyond Direct Questioning in obtaining source cooperation.


Researcher(s)
 

Duke Isty
 
MISTY DUKE, PH.D, PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellow

National Security Studies Institute

  

  

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JAMES WOOD, Ph.D, CO-PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Graduate Program Director and Assistant Chair

Department of Psychology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research on Offender Decision-Making and Desistance from Crime

Theories of criminal behavior emphasize different thinking styles as a key factor that underlies offenders’ motivation to commit crime.  Relevant disciplines (sociology, behavioral economics, psychology, etc.) deferentially focus n whether offenders (a) believe crime’s rewards outweigh its costs, (b) perceive crime as a legitimate response to their circumstances, (c) consider non-criminal opportunities, or (d) behavior without thinking (impulsively or emotionally).  Researchers have not integrated these elements into one cohesive explanation of how thinking styles predict criminal behavior while utilizing a longitudinal design. Analysis will test whether thinking patterns are related to behavior ratings recorded by supervision officers, and official records of reoffending collected over a one-year period.

Researcher(s)

Caleb LLoyd
 
CALEB LLOYD, Ph.D., PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

The University of Texas at El Paso
Assistant Professor

Curriculum Vitae  

 

Sex Differences in the Mechanisms that Promote Nicotine Reward and Withdrawal

This project includes behavioral (place conditioning paradigm) and neurochemical (in vivo microdialysis) approaches to examine the mechanisms that mediate developmental sensitivity and sex differences to nicotine reward and withdrawal.

Researcher(s)

1

LAURA O’DELL, Ph.D., PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

The University of Texas at El Paso

Associate Professor

Department of Psychology

Publications

 

Insulin Mechanisms of Diabetes-Evoked Enhancement of Nicotine Reward

This project examines the neurochemical mechanisms by which insulin promotes the rewarding effects of nicotine.

Researcher(s)

1

LAURA O’DELL, Ph.D., PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

The University of Texas at El Paso

Associate Professor

Department of Psychology

Publications

 

Evaluation of a Law Enforcement Motor – Vehicle Crash Prevention Program

This project will provide support to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Safety Research, in the development, implementation and management of a collaborative research project entitled “Evaluation of Law Enforcement Motor-Vehicle Crash Prevention Program”. The purpose of this research project is to evaluate the effectiveness of a comprehensive motor vehicle crash prevention program in a large metropolitan police departments in reducing the incidence of motor vehicle crashes and motor vehicular injuries and to develop a dissemination plan to transfer the program to other law enforcement agencies if found to be effective.

Researcher(s)

jefr

Dr. Jeffrey Rojek

The University of Texas at El Paso

Associate Professor

Department of Criminal Justice

Research

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