Suspects have a preexisting vulnerability to make short-sighted confession decisions, giving disproportionate weight to proximal, rather than distal, consequences. The findings of the current research provided evidence that this preexisting vulnerability is exacerbated by factors that are associated with the immediate interrogation situation. In Experiment 1 (N = 118), a lengthy interview exacerbated participants' tendency to temporally discount a distal consequence when deciding whether or not to admit to criminal and unethical behaviors. This effect was especially pronounced among less serious behaviors. In Experiment 2 (N = 177), participants' tendency to temporally discount a distal consequence when making admission decisions was exacerbated by the expectation of a lengthy interview; an effect that became stronger the longer the interview continued. These findings suggest that conditions of the immediate interrogation situation may capitalize on an already-present vulnerability among suspects to make short-sighted confession decisions, thereby increasing the chances that even innocent suspects might confess.
- police interrogation
- temporal discounting