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Horselenberg False Confessions Essays

Confessions are central to criminal investigations. Although an increasing amount of attention is being drawn to the phenomenon of false confessions the majority of research focuses on psychological factors of false confessions. This study instead uses narrative analysis to examine the language of true and false confession narratives, with a focus on how evaluative devices convey degrees of guilt and blame. Justifications and deflection of blame were found to characterize true confessions, while false confessions did not place a primacy on these elements. Furthermore, the actual events of the crime were highly evaluated in true confessions, while false confessions left these events unevaluated. Although generalizability of these findings should be treated with caution, meaningful differences between true and false confessions occur at the level of discourse which may assist investigators in uncovering motives, key events, and the confessor’s state of mind, and may help guide interrogators’ questioning patterns.

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Psychological research and application have established that it is not only people with learning disability or major mental illness that are susceptible to make false confessions. In order for a confession to be false, a person must either confess to a crime that he or she is completely innocent of or overstate his or her involvement in the crime. False confessions can be either voluntary or coerced. Although it is methodologically difficult to establish the frequency of false confessions, anecdotal evidence such as self-reports and case studies indicate that reported cases are only the ‘tip of the iceberg’. It appears that young people are particularly vulnerable and often make false confessions in order to protect others. Standardized…show more content…

voluntary false confessions are offered without any external pressure and coerced false confessions are elicited by the police.
According to the framework, voluntary false confessions result from one of the following: a morbid desire for notoriety, which is probably due to a personality disorder; inability to distinguish facts from fantasy, which is probably due to distorted thinking such as in schizophrenia; need for punishment, which is probably associated with depressive illness; hope for leniency;• or a desire to protect the real perpetrator (Kassin and Wrightsman, 1985; Gudjonsson, 1993).
Coerced false confessions are divided in two groups, compliant and internalized. Both are elicited by the police. As a result of coercive police interviewing or custodial setting, a coerced-compliant false confession occurs when a suspect gives up and falsely confesses in order to escape from a psychologically intimidating situation for some instrumental gain. The suspects might think they will be allowed to go home by confessing and the truth might come out eventually; they might be claustrophobic; they might have a drug addiction that needs feeding, or just want the interview to end (Gudjonsson, 1991).
A coerced-internalized false confession occurs when suspects start to believe (internalize) their guilt whilst being interviewed by the police, despite having no recollection of committing the crime. For example, the suspect might have been heavily

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