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Relationship Between Attribution of Blame for Criminal Offences and the Reasons Why Suspects Confess During Custodial Interrogation

NCJ Number
Journal of the Forensic Science Society Volume: 32 Issue: 3 Dated: (1992) Pages: 209-213
G H Gudjonsson
Date Published
5 pages
Data from 60 male criminal offenders in Northern Ireland were used to examine the relationship between the reasons given for confessing to the police during interrogation and their perceptions and feelings about the crime.
The participants had an average age of 33.9 years and were serving prison sentences for property and sexual offenses. They completed the Gudjonsson Confession Questionnaire, which had been used during an earlier study in Iceland. The results confirmed the earlier study's findings. Most offenders confessed because of one or more of the following reasons: internal pressure, which was associated with the need to get it off their chests; external pressure, which was related to police behavior and custodial factors; and perception of proof, where the offenders saw no point in denying their involvement in the offense. In addition, the need to confess to the police because of internal pressure was associated with feelings of remorse about the offense and the extent to which the offense was perceived as having arisen out of mental or stress-related problems. However, strong blame attribution factors were associated with strong inhibitions about confessing. Findings also suggested the reasons for the effectiveness of interrogation techniques that are adjusted to respond to the suspect's level of remorse and the possibility that manipulative interrogation techniques undermine the voluntary nature of the confession and distort the perceptions of the jury against the defendant. Table, study instrument, and 6 references


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