Examining the Causes and Consequences of Confession-Eliciting Tactics during Interrogation

Joeann M. Salvati, Shannon C. Houck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Research suggests interrogation techniques used by U.S. law enforcement can yield false confessions. To investigate, participants (n = 151) were randomly assigned to complete one of two simulated interrogation exercises designed to model different interrogation tactics: (a) the accusatorial Reid Technique, one of the most widely-used interrogation approaches by U.S. law enforcement; or (b) the information-gathering "Compliance" model. False confession rates were examined. The underlying emotional and cognitive themes in participants’ written confessions and open-ended responses were also examined using the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) and Automated Integrative Complexity systems. Results revealed no differences in false confession rates between conditions. However, participants exposed to Reid-based questioning used comparatively more negative, angry, and close-minded (cognitively simple) language when describing their interrogator and less certainty in confessions. The emergent differences in emotional and cognitive reactions inform our understanding of the effects of interrogation approaches used by law enforcement in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-256
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Applied Security Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2019


  • Interrogation
  • Reid
  • false confession
  • information-gathering
  • simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research
  • Law


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