EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION: Interrogations and Confessions

Article excerpt

The first ever Conference on Interrogations and Confessions was held at the University of Texas at El Paso in September 2007 (Meissner & Lassiter, 2007).* The event was supported by a Conferences Grant Award from the American Psychological Association Science Directorate to the coorganizers, G. Daniel Lassiter (Ohio University) and Christian A. Meissner (University of Texas at El Paso). Over 200 academics, law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, public defenders, judges, clinical practitioners, and legislators attended the two-and-a-half-day conference, representing over 15 states in the US, as well as Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Japan, and Australia. At the conference, social scientists, legal scholars, and practitioners critically examined the state of research underlying the psychology of interrogations and confessions, and explored possible policy recommendations. The organizers identified 21 of the most prominent researchers and practitioners in the areas of social psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, criminology, personality and individual differences, clinical forensic psychology, and legal scholarship who had developed well-recognized programs of research on the topics of interrogative interviewing, false confessions, the detection of deception in forensic interviews, individual differences, and clinical forensic evaluations.

The conference program included individual research presentations and panel discussions that provided a forum for debating future directions in research and approaches for influencing public policy based upon best-practice models. The event provided an important opportunity for researchers and practitioners to consolidate their knowledge and to prepare for the future of research and policy reform in this area. An edited volume featuring many of the conference presenters has been prepared (Lassiter and Meissner, 2009).

This special issue of the Journal of Psychiatry & Law continues the process, with original articles by many of the same prominent researchers and practitioners. These articles describe continuing developments in the psychology of interrogations and confessions.

Leo and Davis examine seven psychological processes linking false confession to wrongful conviction and failures of post-conviction relief. Gudjonsson, Sigurdsson, and Sigfusdottir investigate the relationship between false confessions during custodial interrogation and group bullying. Vrij, Granhag, and Mann tap deception theory, people's views about how liars respond, impressionformation theory, and persuasion theory to identify 18 attributes that may be present in a good liar. Walsh and Bull examine investigative interviews in investigations regarding benefit fraud. …