PSC 153 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Innocence Project, Fundamental Attribution Error, Implicit Memory

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2 Oct 2016
PSC 153 Lecture 2 False Confessions and Interrogations
Central Park Five (1989)
False confessions about beating and raping a jogger
Police officers estimate suspects confess about 68% of the time
Objective Data: 39-48% confess, 13-16% partially admit(involuntarily)
Confessions are very influential according to Justice Brennan and mock juror data
supports this
For confessions, there is a 73% conviction rate, and for Eyewitness, there is a 59%
conviction rate
Desirable piece of evidence for prosecution
Can save time and money to avoid trial
Have the potential for coercion likely immoral and possibly illegal
Coerced confession, in theory, should be discounted by jurors
However, clearly coerced confession has a 31% increase in conviction
Social Psychology
Priming activation of a cognitive representation increases its accessibility and the
likelihood that it will be used
Form of implicit memory
Effects can be long-lasting
Cannot un-ring a bell inadmissible evidence is almost impossible to ignore
Causal attributions of behavior why do people do what they do?
Dispositional (internal) attribution
Situational (external) attribution
Fundamental Attribution Error tendency to overestimate dispositional and
underestimate situational factors when explaining other peoples behavior
Discounting principle when situational influence on behavior is obvious, internal
attribution is less likely
Augmenting principle When behavior is opposite of what situation calls for, internal
attribution is more likely
Potential for coercion = potential for false confessions
Innocence Project 344 individuals exonerated through DNA testing (Sept. 2016), false
confession was involved 25% of the time
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