Blindness in the Interrogation Room: A review article about the potential role of choice blindness during suspect interrogations

Marian Schneider


Research indicates that humans display a phenomenon called choice blindness. When we choose between alternatives, we are sometimes blind to the mismatch between our original choice and its outcome. Taking the initial findings about choice blindness as a starting point, this article explores whether choice blindness could also play a relevant role in interrogation situations. The explorations revolve around a hypothetical scenario: An innocent suspect is faced with an interrogation situation in which the investigator manipulates the testimony and thus introduces a mismatch between the original testimony and the manipulated one. Could this mismatch go unnoticed by the suspect due to choice blindness? Recent experimental evidence with a focus on this question is reviewed. It is generally concluded that the role of choice blindness in eliciting outright false confessions to extreme allegations is limited; however, it can still pose a threat to innocent suspects by leading them to give contradictory testimony in interrogations. Suggestions for future research are made and advice on the practice of law enforcement is given.

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