Author Topic: Three hours is enough to convince most people they have committed a crime?  (Read 870 times)

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Offline SCarpelan

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A group of 60 volunteer university students were interviewed about two incidents in their teenage years. One of these incidents had really happened and the other one was fictional but was built around factual details from their past. For half of the group the fictional incident was an innocent but emotional one, for the other half the incident involved criminal activity. For both of these groups, three 40 minute friendly interviews were enough to create so convincing false memories that over 70% believed the fictional incident was real and provided detailed information about it.

All participants need to generate a richly detailed false memory is 3 hours in a friendly interview environment, where the interviewer introduces a few wrong details and uses poor memory-retrieval techniques.

(There seems to be a conflict with the discussed interview lengths but I suppose the subjects spent an hour in the test environment each time with the actual interviews taking the mentioned 40 minutes. It's a minor detail that doesn't really matter, anyway.)

One more study that proves that police needs to be very carefully trained on interrogation methods. Flawed methods may give false confessions even if the interrogators are well-meaning. I assume it would be more difficult to create false memories of more recent events but how difficult exactly? That's something that needs to be studied further.

The abstract of the study can be found in
« Last Edit: January 20, 2015, 08:31:02 pm by SCarpelan »

Offline Ironchew

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The human brain is notoriously poor at accurate recollection of past events.

It's one of the reasons why an ethical court system shouldn't accept eyewitness testimony or confessions without supporting physical evidence.
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Offline Ultimate Paragon

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This is an important study.

Offline Art Vandelay

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Human memory is in fact far far less accurate than people seem to believe. It's not that you simply don't remember details, your mind actively fills in the blanks. So when remembering anything less than recent, a lot of that memory is actually entirely fabricated, and you can't tell what's accurate and what's not. As such, it's quite easy to exploit this little quirk to give someone highly convincing false memories, if you know what you're doing.

Offline Sigmaleph

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There's a relatively famous case of supposed "satanic ritual abuse", based entirely on lies and fabricated memories. The man in question, Paul Ingram, could be made to confess to pretty much anything under the right circumstances, including raping his daughters.

I always figured he was somehow anomalous, but apparently he was just a more extreme version of a normal human trait.

Offline Old Viking

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I was going to comment on this, but I forget what I wanted to say.
I am an old man, and I've seen many problems, most of which never happened.

Offline I am lizard

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This is also another reason why torture is a terrible means of extracting information.