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Interrogation and false memories

According to research published in a psychological journal, persons accused of a crime in states such as Texas can be easily led to produce a false memory of a crime they never committed. The research is based on a lab study done in British Columbia. It concludes that false memories can be produced in normal individuals in as short a time as three hours with the right inducements.

The study participants were 60 university students. Their parents or other caregivers were asked to relate actual stories about the childhood of each of the students in detail. The students were then asked to participate in three 40-minute interviews. During the interviews, researchers began with actual events that occurred in the life of the student and added other events that had not occurred. A friendly atmosphere was used to attempt to convince the students that the false events had occurred.

The students were then asked to use memory techniques to recount the false memories. Over half of the study participants not only falsely remembered the event, but also described it in vivid detail, including accounts of the way the event made them feel. The lead researcher in the study concluded that the results point out the need for law enforcement professionals to take a closer look at the interrogation techniques they are currently using in order to prevent creating false memories of crimes among the accused.

Law enforcement uses several different means to induce an individual to confess a crime, such as a lengthy interrogation process. In some cases, false memories of crimes have been produced. Persons who believe that they have been influenced to recount a false memory of a crime can contact a lawyer for assistance.

Source: Association For Psychological Science, "People Can Be Convinced They Committed A Crime That Never Happened," Jan. 15, 2015

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