Effects of Rapport Building on Confessions in an Experimental Paradigm

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Recently, several studies in Western countries have experimentally investigated interviewing techniques designed to elicit true confessions from guilty suspects and to minimize false confessions by innocent suspects. This study was the first to explore these issues in Japan, with special focus on a rapport-based approach using a modified version of the experimental paradigm devised by Russano, Meissner, Narchet, and Kassin (2005). Experienced police officers interviewed 234 20- to 50-year-old male participants to ascertain whether they broke an experimental rule during a problem-solving session. Among 114 guilty participants (i.e., those who broke the experimental rule), 74 confessed to cheating, whereas none of the innocent participants (i.e., those who did not break the rule even though a confederate attempted to get them to do so) falsely confessed. Further analyses showed that guilty participants who were interviewed using a relationship-focused approach that emphasized rapport building were more likely to confess than those in a control condition; the presence of a camera had no effect on the difference between the 2 interview conditions. Furthermore, there were no significant interviewing style differences in the participants’ perceptions of fairness or suggestiveness.

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