Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive Psychology - The main focus of the research...

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The main focus of the research study, "The Social Psychology of False Confessions," performed by Saul Kassin and Katherine Kiechel, was to address the notion that a person's memory may be manipulated in such a way that one is lead to believe that he or she is guilty of committing a crime that, in actuality, they are entirely innocent of. In today's law, criminal confessions are a source of much controversy - how can we tell whether a confession is made of a person's own free will, or whether is was coaxed or forced out? Confessions are controversial not only because of the methods by which they are extracted, but also because they are problematic when used in a court trial. If a jury hears a confession that is later found to be false, will the jury be able to dismiss the confession, or will it inevitably affect the outcome of a trial? This article questions the methods of interrogation used by your policing system today - how various tactics, especially fabricated evidence, affects the validity of criminal confessions. On the same note, the article provides research which shows that, by and large, the general publics believes it a stretch to think that any person would confess to a crime that he or she did not commit. The researchers behind this article sought to provide empirical evidence which shows that a person's memory can, indeed, be altered by the presence of false evidence, and, on a larger scale, to prove that people can be convinced to accept guilt for crimes they have not committed - and, in some cases, sincerely believe they have committed the crime in question. This article stands out above the rest for several reasons. I believe that the research done in this article is significant to the broader community in that firm, empirical evidence which proves that false confessions are legitimate and do occur in our society could help save
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innocent people from being wrongly convicted. As a Justice Studies and Psychology dual major, this article is of great interest because it delves into the psychology of law and of people - how our criminal justice system uses psychological tactics to extract information, and how a person's memory can be manipulated into the complete opposite of the truth. In order to conduct this study, Kassin and Kiechel selected an even mixture of 69 college undergraduate men and women to participate in a "reaction time experiment." The students were randomly split up into four different groups, based on which level of the experiment they were to participate in - high versus low vulnerability (fast- or slow-paced), and the presence or absence of a false incriminating witness. In order to appear as a legitimate experiment, each subject was asked to fill out a brief questionnaire on his or her typing experience and ability, spatial awareness, and speed of reflexes. For each session, one subject was seated at a desk with an experimental confederate, and an experimenter who sat
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Cognitive Psychology - The main focus of the research...

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