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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

People can be convinced they committed a crime that never happened

Association for Psychological Science
Press Release on January 15, 2015

Evidence from some wrongful-conviction cases suggests that suspects can be questioned in ways that lead them to falsely believe in and confess to committing crimes they didn't actually commit. New research provides lab-based evidence for this phenomenon, showing that innocent adult participants can be convinced, over the course of a few hours, that they had perpetrated crimes as serious as assault with a weapon in their teenage years.

The research, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, indicates that the participants came to internalize the stories they were told, providing rich and detailed descriptions of events that never actually took place.

"Our findings show that false memories of committing crime with police contact can be surprisingly easy to generate, and can have all the same kinds of complex details as real memories," says psychological scientist and lead researcher Julia Shaw of the University of Bedfordshire in the UK.

The entire article is here.