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False Confessions and the Relationship with Offending Behaviour and Personality Among Danish Adolescents

NCJ Number
Legal and Criminological Psychology Volume: 12 Issue: Part 2 Dated: September 2007 Pages: 387-296
Gunnthora Steingrimsdottir; Hrafnhildur Hreinsdottir; Gisli H. Gudjonsson; Jon Fridrik Sigurdsson; Thomas Nielsen
Date Published
September 2007
10 pages
This study examined false confessions by Danish adolescents to police, parents, and teachers and their relationship to personality and self-reported offending.
Of the 715 study participants, 73, or 10 percent, said they had been interrogated by the police, of whom 37, or 51 percent, said they had committed the offense. Five (7 percent) said they had given a false confessions to police, whereas 107 (15 percent) of the total sample said they had given false confessions to parents or teachers. False confessions to teachers and parents were best predicted by the rate of self-reported offending and high compliance. The single most commonly reported reason for making a false confession was to protect a friend. These findings corroborate many of those found in similar Icelandic studies. The study indicates that false confessions to police do happen on occasion which needs to be recognized by the authorities. This study is based on participants’ self-report of having undergone police interrogation and their guilt or innocence regarding the alleged offense. Their self-reported accounts could not be independently corroborated; a serious limitation to this research. In view of the low rate of false confessions in the total sample (n=5), it was not possible to study differences between the personality and offending behavior of those and the other participants. References


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