False confessions

Other Names:
Self-incrimination by the innocent
False confessions by the innocent
Coerced compliant confession
Interrogative suggestibility

Certain people confess to having committed crimes of which they are not guilty, including serious crimes such as murder. Aside from confessions by eccentrics, the criminal justice also has to distinguish coerced compliant confessions by people who know they have not committed the crime but confess to gain some immediate result, such as being released from custody (possibly in the hope of establishing the truth at a later stage). A second form is that of the coerced internalized confession in which a suspect is persuaded by the interrogation process, possibly only temporarily, that he might have committed the crime in the light of the suggestions made by the interrogators that he had suppressed the memory of it (especially in the case of traumatic crimes). Such interrogative suggestibility is the tendency to accept uncritically information communicated during questioning. Highly suggestible people are more likely to make coerced internalized confessions whereas compliant people are more likely to make coerced compliant confessions. Such confessions may be made in the absence of any particular mental disorder.


Most well-publicized serious crimes result in confessions by eccentrics, whether because of a desire for publicity or because of fantasies about having committed the crime. Some 200 people confessed to the kidnapping of the child of Charles Lindbergh in 1932.

Broader Problems:
False statements
Related Problems:
Guilt of bystanders
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST