Individual Differences and False Confessions: A Conceptual Replication of Kassin and Kiechel (1996)
In their study, Kassin and Kiechel (1996) falsely accused students of causing a computer crash and found that 69% of them were willing to sign a false confession, 28% internalized guilt, and 9% confabulated details to support their false beliefs. The authors interpreted these results to mean that false confessions can be easily elicited. However, in their study, false confessions were explicitly not associated with negative consequences. The current study examined whether false incriminating evidence may elicit false confessions in undergraduate students when such confessions are explicitly associated with financial loss. We also explored whether individual differences in compliance, suggestibility, fantasy-proneness, dissociation, and cognitive failures are related to false confessions. The large majority of participants (82%) were willing to sign a false confession. In about half of the participants, false confessions were accompanied by internalization and confabulation. There was no evidence that individual differences modulate participants' susceptibility to false confessions. Taken together, our study replicates previous findings of Kassin and Kiechel.