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Chapter 2

Psychology 2990A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Full Confession, A Confession, Miranda Warning

Course Code
Doug Hazlewood

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Chapter 2- Psych of police investigations
Police Interrogations
Confession is prosecutor’s most potent weapon
In North America a confession usually has to be backed up by some other form of evidence
Ppl who confess to a crime are more likely to be prosecuted & convicted
One of the main goals of police interrogation is to obtain a confession
Although overt physical coercion tactics have become less frequent they have been replaced with more
subtle, psychologically based interrogation techniques such as lying about evidence, promising lenient
treatment and implying threats to loved ones
Police interrogation: process whereby the police interview a suspect for the purpose of gathering
evidence and obtaining a confession
Box 2.1 The Mr. Big Technique
Undercover police pose as members of a criminal organization and attempt to lure suspect into a
Suspect is made to commit minor crimes and then once committed interviews of r a higher level
job but first needs to confess to a crime to the boss
Need to confess because: “form of insurance for gang”, “Mr. Big can draw on his influence and
connections and make evidence or problem disappear”
This was used in the Mayerthorpe RCMP murders in 2005 when James Roszko shot and killed 4
police officers Mr. Big operation was set up to see how 2 of his acquaintances were involved in the
Ethical issues entrapment? Would the person have committed this crime usually? probably
not because the operation is designed to elicit a confession regarding an event that already occurred
The Reid Model of Interrogation
Police officers in England & Wales are trained to use less coercive techniques in interrogation in order to
avoid false confession
Reid Model: Nine step model of interrogation used in North America to extract confessions from subjects
It consists of a 3 part process:
o Gather evidence related to crime and interview witnesses and victims
o Conduct a nonaccusatorial interview of the suspect to assess evidence of deception
o Conduct accusatorial interrogation of the suspect to secure a confession 9 steps
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9 Steps:
1. suspect is confronted with her guilt police can hide fact that they do not have evidence against the
suspect if they do not and even can pretend they do
2. psychological themes are developed that allow suspect to justify, rationalize and excuse the crime
(ex: tell a rapist that the victim must have been asking for it or that a victim of a murderwas a criminal
“who had it coming”)
3. interrogator interrupts statement of denial to ensure suspect does not get upper hand
4. interrogator overcomes suspect’s objections to the charges to a point which suspect becomes quiet
and withdrawn
5. once suspect is withdrawn interrogator ensures that suspect does not tune out of the interrogation
by reducing psychological distance between them and physically moving closer
6. interrogator exhibits sympathy and understanding and urges them to come clean
7. suspect offered face saving explanations for the crime (i.e instead of saying that suspect has been
involved in an intentional homicide, interrogator may say that the crime was accidental)
8. once suspect accepts responsibility for crime interrogator develops this admission into full
9. write and sign a full confession
Other techniques are to use plainly decorated room, evidence folder in your hand, make sure suspect is
alone before interrogating
The model is based off the fact that the suspects fear potential consequences that will happen if they
confess and also that this fear is not sufficiently outweighed by internal feelings of anxiety with
remaining deceptive
The goal of Reid model makes consequences more desirable than the anxiety of deception
2 general categories of interrogation:
Minimization techniques: soft sell tactics used by police interrogators that are designed to lull the
suspect into a false sense of security sympathy, excuses, justifications (saying that by killing this
person a suspect made everyone a favor, as that guy was a drug dealer)
Maximization techniques: scare tactics used by police interrogators that are designed to intimidate a
suspect believed to be guilty exaggerate seriousness of offence & by making false claims about
evidence (refer to the non existing eyewitnesses)
The Use of the Reid Model in Actual Interrogations
When observing videotapes of interog. In Canada, it occurred that:
very few coercive strategies observed in interrogations but many suspects were not read their rights to
silence and legal counsel
more confessions when greater proportion of Reid techniques but there are many other explanations for
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631 police investigations about interrogation
officers rated never to always how often they used different type of techniques
many of the techniques included the Reid model but the frequency of use varied across techniques
interrogators almost always used techniques such as isolating suspects from friends and family and trying to
establish rapport with suspects to gain their trust
other common but less frequent are confronting them with their guilt and appealing to their self interest
less common were providing justifications for crime and implying or pretending to have evidence
rare were instances of threatening with consequences for not cooperating and physically intimidating
but this is based on self report
Potential Problems with Reid Model
Issue of whether investigators are effective deception detectors especially when using Reid because the
actual interrogation begins only after an initial interview allowed the interrogator to determine if the
suspect is guilty. Also due to false deception interrogator might believe that the person is guilty, when
he is in fact not. Third problem is using coercive techniques that lead to false confession
Detecting Deception
Even with a lot of training there is not a lot of evidence that anyone is good at detecting deception so the
decision to interrogate will often be based on incorrect determination that suspect is guilty
Miranda Rights in US are safeguards to protect an individual during the interrogation
In Canada the rights are in Charter of Rights and Freedoms such as rights to silence and legal counsel
In Canada and US it is only when suspects knowingly and voluntarily waive these rights that their
statements can be used as evidence against them
But a problem is that many people do not understand their rights when they are read to them
Sampled undergrads and nearly half enrolled in police recruitment program
They were presented with 2 legal cautions that are supposed to be presented to Canadian suspects first
in verbal and then in written format
E.i you need not say anything, you have nothing to hope from any promise or favor, you have nothing
to fear from any threat
After each type of presentation they recorded their understanding of the caution and rated how
confident they were with their answer
Participants had difficulty understanding each of the cautions, particularly certain elements but
presenting the cautions in written format one element at a time allowed for more comprehension
Self reported comprehension was not a good predictor of comprehension and demographic variables
were not related to comprehension
o So Canadian suspects are not always being protected
o Certain populations (ie youth, intellectually impaired) are particularly vulnerable to misunderstanding
their rights
o Students exhibit ~40% of comprehension when are presented w waivers in oral format
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