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He's Guilty!: Investigator Bias in Judgments of Truth and Deception

NCJ Number
Law and Human Behavior Volume: 26 Issue: 5 Dated: October 2002 Pages: 469-480
Christian A. Meissner; Saul M. Kassin
Date Published
October 2002
12 pages
This article explores whether training or experience improve an individual’s ability to discern between truth and deception during a police interrogation.
The authors note that previous research concerning the influence of training and experience on the deception-detection skills of police investigators is sparse. In light of the profound implications of investigator error in this regard, the authors designed a research project using signal detection theory (SDT) to investigate deception-detection ability. Forty-nine law enforcement investigators viewed crime interview tapes and then identified whether the criminal suspect was lying or telling the truth. The law enforcement participants also answered questionnaire data concerning their training in deception-detection and their prior experience with interrogations. The results indicate that although training and/or experience increase an individual’s ability to discern between truthful and deceptive target people, it does not improve their ability to discern between truth and deception. In fact, the results revealed that training and experience might actually increase bias when making decisions of guilt or innocence. Pre-interrogation interviews and investigation may bias an officer’s view of the criminal suspect, thus clouding their ability to accurately discern truth. Given the implications of this research, the authors call for increased awareness of police bias in the interrogation room and further research into the effects of bias. Tables, references