Overcoming Innocents' Naiveté: Pre-interrogation Decision-making Among Innocent Suspects

Kyle C. Scherr, Kimberly M. Alberts, Andrew S. Franks, Ian Hawkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Suspects, especially innocent ones, are highly susceptible to waiving their interrogation rights. This research tested the ability of two strategies to overcome innocent suspects' willingness to waive their rights. One strategy was based on the social influence of scarcity (i.e., not constraining the pre-interrogation time limit). The other strategy focused on disrupting individuals' cognitive fluency during the decision-making process (i.e., violating their induced expectation of offering a waiver). Disrupting innocent individuals' cognitive fluency increased their willingness to invoke their rights and, notably, was not qualified by interactions with any other factors. However, scarcity did not influence individuals' pre-interrogation decision-making. Results also further established the association between innocent individuals' naïve mindset and their willingness to waive their rights - specifically, innocents' willingness to waive their rights increased with the strength of their just world beliefs. The theoretical and applied implications of these findings are discussed. The importance and benefit of reforming pre-interrogation protocols using fair and feasible strategies that would disrupt suspects' cognitive fluency are emphasized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)564-579
Number of pages16
JournalBehavioral sciences & the law
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


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