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PEERS: Group bias in the detection of false confessions

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Nils Rei

on 12 April 2013

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Transcript of PEERS: Group bias in the detection of false confessions

Hypotheses Problem Method Results Group bias
in the detection of false confessions Central Park Jogger Case Brutal rape and near-fatal beating of a woman
Arrest of 5 teenagers (14-16 years) 5 detailed confessions to group rape after ~28 hours of interrogation

All 5 were convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison sentences. In 2002, a confession by an imprisoned rapist overturned the convictions Psycholegal research: Police coercion, interrogation times, youth as a risk factor Colour and false convictions All 5 were people of colour.

civil rights lawsuit (Kassin & Gudjonsson, 2004) Why are people of colour at risk of falsely confessing? Causes of false confessions Taslitz, 2006: Police officers hold stereotypes against Black suspects.
=> They presume guilt rather than
innocence. Taslitz, 2006: => Police exerts more pressure on suspects
and are less likely to look at
conflicting evidence. Najdowski, 2011: People of colour are aware of stereotypes about criminality.
=> They try hard to appear innocent,
making them suspicious.
(stereotype threat) Kassin, Meissner, & Norwick, 2005: poor accuracy

investigator guilty response bias Does a guilt bias towards people of colour hinder the detection of false confessions? The power of social categorisation Even most trivial categorisation makes people: Minimal group paradigm* * Billig & Tajfel, 1973 judge members of their group as (1) more similar to them and (2) more positively.
allocate more resources to their in-group

perceive members of an out-group as more similar to each other In-group favouritism Out-group homogeniety 1. 3. 2. Pager (2005): (1) observers extend their self-perception (being honest) witnesses of the same ethnic group
(2) witnesses from another group are likely to be perceived as dissimilar (dishonest) 1st Hypothesis: Participants will be more likely to believe statements of in-group members. 2nd Hypothesis: Participants will more readily accept confessions by out-group members as true. People are likely
(1) to identify as law-abiding, moral
citizens and
(2) to extend this notion to in-group
members. 3rd Hypothesis: The out-group guilt bias will overrule or moderate the effect of veracity in the detection of false confessions. Kassin et al., 2005: Confession-specific bias towards accepting confessions as true = guilt bias Design Video statements Procedure Lie vs. true statement: False vs. false confession True vs. false confession Coverstory:
Test of a programme of group exercises
to improve lie detection abilities
Blue and yellow headbands were used to create minimal groups
Videotaped statements and confessions were used to test for (1) in-group/out-group effects and (2) detection abilities. Group sessions of 10 participants: 0:05h Introduction to coverstory
0:08h Headbands
0:10h Group exercises
0:30h Videos and detection assessment
0:35h Post-experimental questionnaire
0:40h Debriefing For each of the four statements, a pair of two videos was shown (forced choice).
Each person in each video pair was recorded wearing a blue and yellow headband. (counterbalancing)
Each video pair was introduced by an explanation of the statement's background. (2nd video pair)

"I saw a black card." (3rd video pair)

"I was selfish and kept all the money to myself." (1st & 4th video pair) "I drove through a red light in my car."
"I once deflated another person's bicycle tire." Participants 6 participants were excluded post-hoc
N = 33
Mean age = 21.5 years
28 women & 5 men

Show-up rates for the 5 group sessions varied from 6(3)/10 to 9/10
Reward of either 1 research credit point or a VVV voucher of 7.50 € Results: Accuracy 13 of 33 (39%; 95% CI [23%, 56%]) were able to identify the true confession in the first video pair.

=> Poor accuracy in in-group/in-group
comparison Results: Group bias => Non-significant and/or unexpected trends Results: Truth x Group bias Poor accuracy
No interaction with group effect Conclusion: No/contradicting evidence for the hypothesised out-group guilt bias Why was no/contradicting evidence found? References: Questions? Methodological issues: Internal validity
Group salience:
Instructions, group composition
Forced-choice & guilt bias

External Validity
Severity of confessions Alternative theories: Group bias influences trait ratings and resource allocation, but not FC detection.

(Implicit) stereotyping influences juries' and judges' evaluation of a defendant.

Stereotype threat renders defendants' demeanour in court less credible. (Berg, Dickhaut, & McCabe, 1995) Berg, J., Dickhaut, J., & McCabe, K. (1995). Trust,
reciprocity, and social history. Games and
Economic Behavior, 10, 122-142.
Billig, M., & Tajfel, H. (1973). Social categorization
and similarity in intergroup behavior. European
Journal of Social Psychology, 3, 27-52.
Duru, N. J. (2004). The Central Park Five, the Scottsboro Boys, and the myth of the bestial black
man. Cardozo Law Review, 25, 1315-1356.
Gross, S. R., Jacoby, K., Matheson, D. J., Montgomery,
N., & Patil, S. (2005). Exonerations in the
United States 1989 through 2003. The Journal
of Criminal Law and Criminology, 95, 523–560.
Innocence Project. (2009). In their own words.
Innocence Project in Print, 5, 16-17.
Kassin, S. M., & Gudjonsson, G. H. (2004). The
psychology of confessions: A review of the
literature and issues. Psychological Science in
the Public Interest, 5, 33-67.
Kassin, S. M., Meissner, C. A., & Norwick, R. J. (2005).
“I’d know a false confession if I saw one”: A
comparative study of college students and
police investigators. Law and Human Behavior,
29(2), 211-227.
Mullen, B., Brown, R., & Smith, C. (1992). Ingroup
bias as a function of salience, relevance and
status: An integration. European Journal of
Social Psychology, 22, 103-122.
Najdowski, C. J. (2011). Stereotype threat in criminal
interrogations: Why innocent black suspects are
at risk for confessing falsely. Psychology, Public
Policy, and Law, 17, 562-591.
Pager, C. K. W. (2005). Blind justice, colored truths
and the veil of ignorance. Willamette Law
Review, 41, 373-434.
Taslitz, A. E. (2006). Wrongly accused: Is race a
factor in convicting the innocent? Ohio State
Journal of Criminal Law, 4, 121-133.
The Sentencing Project. (2012). Trends in U.S.
corrections. Retrieved June 20, 2012 from
publications/inc_Trends_in_Corrections_Fact_ sh
U.S. Departement of Justice. (2009). Arrests by race,
2009. Retrieved June 20, 2012 from
http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/data/table _4
3.html Concluding remarks > 60% of prisoners in the USA are people of colour

No empirically tested account of colour as a risk factor for false confessions (The Sentencing Project, 2012)
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