Project Title

Friend or Foe?: Blame-Taking and Informant Behavior Among Friends and Strangers

Academic department under which the project should be listed

RCHSS - Psychological Science

Faculty Sponsor Name

Jennifer WIllard

Abstract (300 words maximum)

2021 Symposium of Student Scholars

Abstract Submission due 03/22/2021

Erika Rodriguez Rivera

erodri57@students.kennesaw.edu

Alex Goldstein

agoldst6@kennesaw.edu

Andrew Manocchio

amanocch@students.kennesaw.edu

Naomi Katz

nkatz@students.kennesaw.edu

Jennifer Willard

Jwillar3@kennesaw.edu

Friend or Foe?: Blame-Taking and Informant Behavior Among Friends and Strangers

Approximately 36% of DNA exonerees have falsely confessed or pleaded guilty (The Innocence Project, 2021). Some individuals report falsely confessing or pleading guilty in order to protect the true perpetrator (Mallory et al., 2014). In these cases, false confessors and perpetrators typically have a pre-existing relationship (Gudjonsson et al., 2007). The current study examined whether relationship status (stranger versus friend) impacts false confession rates and informant behavior. Pairs of strangers or friends volunteered for a study purported to examine communication. Participants then completed tasks designed to support the cover story. Midway through the study, one participant from each pair was randomly enlisted as a confederate who was given two tasks. First, they would cheat on an experimental assessment and thereafter send a text message plea asking their innocent partner to take the blame. The innocent partner was then confronted about the cheating and provided with the opportunity to confess to the violation. We were thus interested in the innocent participant’s choice to either falsely confess, maintain their innocence, or maintain their innocence and provide evidence against the perpetrator (i.e., participant confederate). We expected that innocent participants will be more likely to provide a false confession when the perpetrator is their friend rather than a stranger. Furthermore, innocent participants who maintain their innocence will be less likely to provide evidence against the perpetrator who is a friend versus a stranger. These data may help individuals in the legal system to determine under what conditions false confessions and informant behavior occur.

Keywords: False confessions, Relationship, Cheating, Interrogation, Informant

Reference List

Gudjonsson, G. H., Siguardsson, J. F., & Einarsson, E. (2007). Taking blame for antisocial acts and its relationship with personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 3–13. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2006.11.002

Innocence Project Fact Sheet. (2011). Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://innocenceproject.org/research-resources/

Malloy, L. C., Shulman, E. P., & Cauffman, E. (2014). Interrogations, confessions, and guilty pleas among serious adolescent offenders. Law and Human Behavior, 38, 181–193. doi:10.1037/lhb0000065

Project Type

Event

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Friend or Foe?: Blame-Taking and Informant Behavior Among Friends and Strangers

2021 Symposium of Student Scholars

Abstract Submission due 03/22/2021

Erika Rodriguez Rivera

erodri57@students.kennesaw.edu

Alex Goldstein

agoldst6@kennesaw.edu

Andrew Manocchio

amanocch@students.kennesaw.edu

Naomi Katz

nkatz@students.kennesaw.edu

Jennifer Willard

Jwillar3@kennesaw.edu

Friend or Foe?: Blame-Taking and Informant Behavior Among Friends and Strangers

Approximately 36% of DNA exonerees have falsely confessed or pleaded guilty (The Innocence Project, 2021). Some individuals report falsely confessing or pleading guilty in order to protect the true perpetrator (Mallory et al., 2014). In these cases, false confessors and perpetrators typically have a pre-existing relationship (Gudjonsson et al., 2007). The current study examined whether relationship status (stranger versus friend) impacts false confession rates and informant behavior. Pairs of strangers or friends volunteered for a study purported to examine communication. Participants then completed tasks designed to support the cover story. Midway through the study, one participant from each pair was randomly enlisted as a confederate who was given two tasks. First, they would cheat on an experimental assessment and thereafter send a text message plea asking their innocent partner to take the blame. The innocent partner was then confronted about the cheating and provided with the opportunity to confess to the violation. We were thus interested in the innocent participant’s choice to either falsely confess, maintain their innocence, or maintain their innocence and provide evidence against the perpetrator (i.e., participant confederate). We expected that innocent participants will be more likely to provide a false confession when the perpetrator is their friend rather than a stranger. Furthermore, innocent participants who maintain their innocence will be less likely to provide evidence against the perpetrator who is a friend versus a stranger. These data may help individuals in the legal system to determine under what conditions false confessions and informant behavior occur.

Keywords: False confessions, Relationship, Cheating, Interrogation, Informant

Reference List

Gudjonsson, G. H., Siguardsson, J. F., & Einarsson, E. (2007). Taking blame for antisocial acts and its relationship with personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 3–13. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2006.11.002

Innocence Project Fact Sheet. (2011). Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://innocenceproject.org/research-resources/

Malloy, L. C., Shulman, E. P., & Cauffman, E. (2014). Interrogations, confessions, and guilty pleas among serious adolescent offenders. Law and Human Behavior, 38, 181–193. doi:10.1037/lhb0000065