False confessions among 15-and 16-year-olds in compulsory education and the relationship with adverse life events

Gisli Gudjonsson*, Jón F Sigurðsson, Inga Dóra Sigfúsdóttir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study investigates the relationship between false confession during interrogation and background life adversity. It was hypothesised that life adversity is significantly related to a history of having made a false confession to police. The participants were 7149 pupils in the last two years of their compulsory education (aged 15-16). They completed a questionnaire in class, which included 14 background variables related to life adversity and further questions about experience of police interrogation and false confessions. Out of the 14 background variables, 12 significantly discriminated between the two groups, with the largest odds ratios being a victim of sexual abuse, the death of a parent or sibling, and having witnessed or experienced serious violence at home. The findings suggest that major life adversity leaves young persons vulnerable to giving a false confession when arrested and questioned by police as a suspect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)950-963
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology
Volume20
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009

Other keywords

  • Adolescent
  • False confession
  • Interrogation
  • Victimisation
  • Criminology

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