College of Psychology Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

College of Psychology

First Advisor

David L. Shapiro

Second Advisor

Lenore E. Walker

Third Advisor

Christian DeLucia

Abstract

Research has suggested that the interrogative suggestibility levels play an important role in the elicitation of a false confession within a police interrogation. The Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale (GSS-1) is currently the only validated assessment tool that measures interrogative suggestibility levels, and it is frequently used in forensic evaluations to help support or refute false confession claims. While it is imperative that the GSS-1 readily differentiate between those who are genuinely suggestible and those who are feigning higher suggestibility levels, past researchers have raised concerns regarding the layperson’s ability to feign higher suggestibility levels as measured by the GSS-1. This paper examines the ability to feign higher interrogative suggestibility levels as measured by the GSS-1 following instructions and incentive to engage in the manipulation. Undergraduate students from a local university (n=32) were randomly assigned to instructed feigners and a control group, and administered the GSS-1, as well as additional assessment tools with embedded validity indicators. Statistical Analyses, including one-way analysis of variances (ANOVA) and one-sample t-tests were employed. Results indicate that while instructed feigners can successfully decrease their free recall scores when compared to controls, they cannot successfully manipulate principle measures on the primary GSS-1 scales. These findings support claims that the GSS-1 is robust to feigning efforts when administered as outlined in the instruction manual, as well as in conjunction with sufficient distractor tasks. These findings are explored in the context of the current feigning literature, and recommendations for future use of the GSS-1 in false confession evaluations are discussed.

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