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Innocent people can be convinced they have committed crimes

People who live in New York might find a recent study involving false memories interesting. The research involved individuals who were wrongly convicted of a crime and states that it is possible for some questioning practices to falsely convince a person that they have committed a crime, even if they have not. The research indicates that the lab-based confirmation shows proof that innocent parties are able to be persuaded to believe that they are responsible for committing a crime within only a few hours.

The 60 participants who took part in the study were students from the University of British Columbia who had never previously been involved in any of the crimes they were convinced by researchers they had committed. The two individuals who conducted the study first contacted each student's primary caregivers and asked them to fill out a questionnaire about the student concerning certain events that took place from the ages of 11 to 14.

Researchers then compiled a true and false event and presented the accounts to each student. The false event did include some elements of truth in nature. When the students were asked to cite the two events back to the researcher, some of them had difficulty remembering the details of the false event. They were encouraged to use certain memory strategies in order to be able to recall the details of the event.

The results showed that a surprising number of participants became convinced that they had committed a crime in their teenage years. Many of the students could even remember their specific dealings with authorities, and others had developed false memories about the event. The results could have an interesting effect on the way some criminal law cases are addressed. A criminal defense lawyer might argue that an individual might not have committed a crime and confessed falsely.

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Lerner & Lerner, P.C.

Former prosecutors with more than 50 years of combined experience

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