Go ahead and sign& An experimental examination of Miranda waivers and comprehension

Kyle C. Scherr, Stephanie Madon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

This research examined whether the protections afforded by Miranda are compromised by two situational factors that may be present during the Miranda administration process. The factors examined were the police tactic of trivializing the importance of a waiver and the stress that accompanies an accusation of serious misconduct. All participants (N = 89) were accused of misconduct on an experimental task and were led to believe that they would have to discuss the incident with the professor in charge of the experiment. In addition, all participants were asked to sign a waiver of their right to have a student advocate present during that meeting, after which their comprehension of the waiver was assessed. To manipulate the police tactic of trivializing a waiver, participants were told that the waiver had important or trivial implications for their future outcomes. To manipulate stress, participants were told that their misconduct was either a serious or minor violation of the experiment. Results indicated that participants were more likely to sign the waiver and had worse comprehension of its content when it was described as trivial versus important. Participants' comprehension of the waiver was also worse when their misconduct was described as a serious versus a minor violation of the experiment. These findings have implications for policy regarding the standardization of Miranda administration protocols as well as for future research aimed at understanding the influence of situational factors on Miranda waivers and comprehension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-218
Number of pages11
JournalLaw and Human Behavior
Volume37
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2013

Keywords

  • Miranda
  • comprehension
  • social influence
  • waivers

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