A Biphasic Process of Resistance Among Suspects: The Mobilization and Decline of Self-Regulatory Resources

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Abstract

We conducted two experiments to test whether police interrogation elicits a biphasic process of resistance from suspects. According to this process, the initial threat of police interrogation mobilizes suspects to resist interrogative influence in a manner akin to a fight or flight response, but suspects’ protracted self-regulation of their behavior during subsequent questioning increases their susceptibility to interrogative influence in the long-run. In Experiment 1 (N = 316), participants who were threatened by an accusation of misconduct exhibited responses indicative of mobilization and more strongly resisted social pressure to acquiesce to suggestive questioning than did participants who were not accused. In Experiment 2 (N = 160), self-regulatory decline that was induced during questioning about misconduct undermined participants’ ability to resist suggestive questioning. These findings support a theoretical account of the dynamic and temporal nature of suspects’ responses to police interrogation over the course of questioning.

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