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Confessions, when true, are an important tool in convicting criminals. But false confessions frequently play a major role in convicting innocent people. Experiments show that juries and potential witnesses are influenced by confessions even if they know they were coerced. Also in the lab, experienced polygraph examiners, fingerprint experts, and other experts, when informed of a confession, see what they expect to see — that is, evidence of guilt…
To back up these findings with real-life data, the psychologists thoroughly reviewed the trial records of 241 people exonerated by the Innocence Project since 1992. Of these, 59 — or 25 percent — involved false confessions, either by the defendant or an alleged accomplice. One-hundred eighty — or 75 percent — involved eyewitness mistakes. The analysis revealed that multiple errors turned up far more often in false confession cases than in eyewitness cases: 69 percent versus fewer than half. And two thirds of the time, the confession came first, followed by other errors, namely invalid forensic science and government informants.
Kassin believes the findings “greatly underestimate the problem” because of what never shows up in court: evidence of innocence. Told the suspect confessed, “alibi witnesses back out, thinking they’re mistaken,” police stop searching for the real culprit. “We show that confessions bring in other incriminating evidence that is false. What we don’t see is a tendency to suppress exculpatory evidence.”
The study throws doubt on a critical legal concept designed to safeguard the innocent: corroboration. Appeals courts uphold a conviction even if a false confession is discovered, as long as other evidence — say, forensics or other witness testimony — independently shows guilt. “What these findings suggest is that there may well be the appearance of corroboration,” says Kassin, “but it is false evidence that was corrupted by the confession — not independent at all.” -Science Daily
Writing Prompt: Write a story or scene about a coerced confession and its fallout.
Journaling Prompt: What would it take to get you to admit to something you didn’t do?
Art Prompt: Coercion
Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Write about a coerced confession that was recanted and how the case ended up.
Photo Credit: andrewrennie on Flickr
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Tagged with: acquiesce • art prompt • behavior • bias • blame • confession • conflict • consequences • criminal • decisions • guilt • harassment • human nature • innocence • intimidation • journaling prompt • manipulation • mistake • psychology • speechwriting prompt • truth • victim • writing prompt
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“We often hear that people who feel envious of their colleagues try to bring them down by spreading negative rumours, withholding useful information, or secretly sabotaging their work,” says Prof. Aquino, who conducted the study with colleagues from the University of Minnesota, Clemson University in South Carolina and Georgia State University.
However, Aquino says envy is only the fuel for sabotage. “The match is not struck unless employees experience what psychologists call ‘moral disengagement’ — a way of thinking that allows people to rationalize or justify harming others.”
The researchers explain that moral disengagement is most likely to occur when an envious co-worker feels disconnected from others in the workplace. -Science Daily
Writing Prompt: Write a character sketch for someone who is morally disengaged. What motivates his or her bad behavior?
Journaling Prompt: Write about an office gossip you have known.
Art Prompt: Morally disengaged
Photo Credit: bareknuckleyellow on Flickr
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Tagged with: art prompt • avoidance • behavior • betrayal • bullying • character sketch • competition • conflict • dysfunction • envy • ethics • gossip • harassment • intimidation • journaling prompt • magical thinking • morality • office • psychology • rumors • sabotage • sociopath • stress • work • writing prompt
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There have always been bullies in schools, but now we are finally starting to understand the consequences of letting this behavior go unanswered. In today’s reading of research from University of Illinois psychology professor Karen Rudolph, we learn the strategies kids use when they are being bullied.
Consciously or not, children tend to adopt one of three approaches…
“Some are focused on developing their relationships. They want to improve their social skills. They want to learn how to make friends,” she said.
Others are most interested in “demonstrating their competence,” she said. They may try to demonstrate their competence by enhancing their status or seeking approval from their peers. “These are kids who say: ‘I want to be cool. I want lots of kids to like me. I want to hang out with the popular kids.’ “
Or they may try to demonstrate their competence by avoiding negative judgments. “These are the kids who say, ‘I’m not going to do anything that’s going to draw negative attention, that’s going to make me look like a loser, that’s going to embarrass me,’” Rudolph said.
…children who were most interested in developing relationships “had more positive perceptions of themselves and were more likely to say that they would cooperate and work to reduce conflict with other kids,” Rudolph said. When other kids harassed them, these children were “more likely to engage in proactive strategies to solve the problem,” she said. This might involve asking a teacher for advice, or getting emotional support. Students with these goals also were less likely to engage in other impulsive responses to harassment, Rudolph said.
Children who wanted to be perceived as “cool” or competent “were less likely to use those kinds of thoughtful, careful strategies” when dealing with harassment, Rudolph said. “And they were more likely to retaliate.” These children also had more negative perceptions of their peers, Rudolph said.
Those who wanted to avoid negative judgments were less likely to retaliate against their peers. “But they were also more passive. They just ignored what happened,” she said. This approach might be useful in some circumstances, particularly for boys who tend to be more physically aggressive and more likely to retaliate than girls, Rudolph said. But passive responses also may increase a bully’s willingness to “up the ante,” she said. -Science Daily
Writing Prompt: Write a scene in which a youngster is dealing with being bullied at school.
Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when you were bullied or you saw someone being bullied.
Art Prompt: Bully
Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Write an informative article or speech on how to handle bullies.
Photo Credit: Chesi – Fotos CC on Flickr
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