PSYC367 - False Confessions (Coral Dando) Example Exam Question (II)


Inbau & Reid (1967) developed a set of interrogation tactics for use with those suspected of comitting crimes, with the aim being to obtain a confession. Two of these tactics are "maximisation" and "minimisation". Describe them, and discuss why many psychologists believe these techniques may be unethical.

A confession is where an individual, often suspected of committing a crime, admits guilt for commiting or being involved in the commission of a criminal offense. Interrogation is a method of interviewing with the main aim to obtain a confession from the individual suspected of committing the crime. Interrogation is a method used widely in the United States and differs largely from the investigative interviewing process used within the United Kingdom. This essay will outline the differences in techniques between interrogation and investigative interviews and will argue that methods of interrogation are viewed as unethical by psychologists are they lead to greater instances of false confessions.

Section I
In the United States an interrogation method of interviewing is used with the main aim of obtaining a confession from the individual bought forward for investigation. This differs largely from the investigative interviewing approach where suspects are interviewed with the view of gathering as much information relating to the crime as possible (Cortex, 2004), a non-confession orientated approach. Within the USA certain techniques are still permitted which have been condemned in the UK by the PACE Act (1984). One such technique is the maximiation technique.

Maximisation is one of the psychological oppressive techniques, used by interrogators in order to obtain a confession. Maximisation is where an interrogator exaggerates the seriousness of the crime the individual is being accused of, as a means of obtaining a confession (Soukara, 2009).  Furthermore, this is where the interrogator aims to scare the suspect into submission so that they are practically forced to admit guilt for the crime (Moffa, 2007). Another technique which is employed in maximisation is the use of false evidence ploys, another technique which was dismissed by the PACE Act (1984) in the UK. A false evidence ploy is where an interrogator presents evidence to the suspect which suggests that is undeniable evidence that the individual has committed the crime, for example DNA samples from the murder weapon. Furthermore this technique can be described as one of the harshest physical and psychological techniques that can be employed to gain a confession (Pearse, 2010).

The maximisation technique is a technique which can be deemed as an unethical approach to suspect interviewing, due to its propensity to increase…


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