Criminal logo

Psychological War & The Art of Deception

Interrogation Tactics & False Evidence Ploys

By SchmalzPublished 2 years ago 8 min read
Psychological War & The Art of Deception
Photo by Jonny Clow on Unsplash

Nobody would ever confess to a crime they didn’t commit right? People wouldn’t ever lie about committing some abhorrent crime in which they were innocent. A still all too commonly held belief in society. A common misconception that doesn’t reveal the full art of deception and warfare on the human mind that occurs during the interrogation process. Every person has their breaking point on a spectrum of mental fortitude that varies. Again every single person can be convinced into conspiracy even if against themselves after a certain amount of psychological warfare has been waged against them.

Police are only human beings, thus meaning that police are just as vulnerable to human error as anyone else. However, in an interrogation room where stakes are far higher and confirmation bias allows them to get blinded by the interrogation process. Not to mention police have the right to use false evidence ploys, lies, placing suspects in socially isolated rooms for hours on end, and a variety of other tools of deception while interrogating potential suspects that lead to false convictions. Police are trained in asking leading questions, finding incongruity in answers, and incentivized by overtime to continue interrogations for as long as they see fit.

A report by the University of San Francisco School of Law showed that 81% of suspects waive their miranda rights during a police interrogation. What are miranda rights? This is a persons’ right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. EVERYONE has Miranda rights but everyone can waive their Miranda rights as well. If someone gives an unclear response to the interrogating officer such as. “I may want an attorney” this person surely will not be given one. It has to be definite that the suspect refuses to speak until an attorney is present. Such as, “I refuse to speak until a lawyer is present.” Without such a statement the interrogating officer is free to employ as much of their interrogation tactics that will lead to one form or another of self incrimination. The same study by the University of San Francisco School of Law showed that 68% of these interrogations led to self-incriminating information. Police use something known as the reasonable person standard when it comes to invoking one's miranda rights during an interrogation. That means any reasonable person would already know not only that they could request a lawyer's services during an interrogation but also that they would know that they’re free to leave at any point during the interrogation because they’ve yet to be arrested and read their miranda. Someone might be thinking in their head of course I would know that! But psychology on the other hand offers a differing opinion. A study done by Mindthoff published in Psychology, Public, Policy, and Law found that “81% of innocent suspects accused of a mock crime waived their rights compared to 36% of guilty suspects.” This illuminates the idea that only those who are in need of their Miranda rights are too naive to know it insofar they’re actually innocent while guilty suspects are more likely to invoke their Miranda.

How many of us leave work at the end of the day with a mind that needs a break? Again this lies on a spectrum that can vary from person to person but everyone hits a point where they need to leave. Now imagine instead you find yourself stuck in a room with no windows, fluorescent lights, and being asked the same rounds of questions over and over again. Not to mention that the interrogating officer has spent time building rapport with the suspect and discovering their self interests. By the way during this time the suspect has been isolated from speaking to anybody else. During this time the interrogating officer will often conduct an interview session in order to collect information about the subject, searching for incongruity, or deception from the suspect. This also includes behavioral analysis such as a person shifting that informs the officer whether or not the suspect is lying. If the interrogator detects any sign of mischief from the suspect confirmation bias becomes of primary concern because once the officer becomes convinced the suspect is guilty the all too human problem of tunnel vision blocks alternative ideas of innocence. And that is when the interview portion ends and interrogation begins. Only to further complicate this process, research done in Behavioral Confirmation in The Interrogation Room: On the Dangers of Presuming Guilt points out that no empirical evidence shows that police can accurately determine guilt based on behavioral analysis. The problem is that even after police have received education about the problems with believing in behavioral analysis it doesn’t improve their ability to detect what is a lie and what is true.

Once the police have begun interrogation they have confirmed in their minds that the suspect is guilty and the waging of psychological warfare has been declared. This is when interrogation tactics formerly mentioned begin to take place piece by piece. The interrogator will confront the suspect with the supposed crime, creating a theme that is built upon the information gathered during the interview process, interrupting any objections the suspect might try to point out, handling the suspect's emotions, and then repeating the same process always returning to the self imagined theme the officer created. This opens up a plethora of psychological issues regarding the officer, the suspect, and the problems of being human. Chiefly this illuminates how strenuous a police interrogation is on a person psychologically; primarily because this same pattern of events can continue for hours on end in many cases.

An additional tool that the interrogator brings to the room is the power of false evidence ploys which are the leading cause of false confessions. Here again it is necessary to reconcile with the common belief that nobody would confess to something they didn’t do. Imagine sitting in a lonely room being constantly threatened by lies, deceptions, being interrupted, continuously getting accused of a crime, and being offered a confession as the only way out. The reality is false confessions are something that every single person would do. False confessions are something everyone is capable of giving. The difference is in a spectrum in which each individual has their own breaking point in order to be removed from such an excruciating experience. Police can use a variety of false evidence and coercion to get the answer that they determined was true from the start, the suspect's guilt. As such the coercion and false evidence doesn’t matter because in the eyes of an interrogator the means of deception do not matter so long as their end is achieved, the suspect's guilt is their only end. In Behavioral Sciences & the Law a study that had all participants perceive all false evidence ploys as at least moderately coercive and deceptive. These are powerful tools in the hands of investigators because if the suspect gives a confession of the crime they no longer need to pursue the scientific evidence to prove their case. Allowing police officers to interrogate serves as a crucial function of their job, but makes it all the more important for citizens to understand the dangers of false evidence ploys because it can be extremely detrimental to finding the truth of a case. Therefore, disabling anyone from serving justice. Often when there is a false confession the interrogation has lasted an extremely long time. Being interrogated anywhere from six to twenty four hours one might imagine the enormous amount of stress, anxiety, etc which can launch people into weaker states of mind making them more vulnerable to giving a false confession. As Behavioral Confirmation in The Interrogation Room: On the Dangers of Presuming Guilt states an, “Archival study of 125 proven false confessions, where 34% of interrogations lasted 6 to 12 hours, 39% lasted 12-24 hours, and the mean was 16.3 hours.” This showcases the great amount of mental stress that is being forced upon someone being interrogated over and over again for immense periods of time. The suspect wants to do anything in order to get out of that room because it has become a place of such high stress for so long.

Clearly there are flaws in the way police interrogate individuals but it is not the case of them making errors as police officers; it is that they suffer from the same mistakes, those all too human mistakes. Very human mistakes. New guidelines that can constantly update to account for these all too human flaws will lead to greater police work insofar as they’re applied in a manner to cut out confirmation bias, increase interrogation transparency, and ensure that suspects get the proper protections they need when facing down the deep shadow of the justice system.

The system itself places many new challenges for the suspect where they are placed before a jury who is asked to do the impossible; presume innocence. Once again a challenge for the American mind. Of course I think someone is innocent before guilty many might be thinking, however once again psychology offers a different answer. But this will be shelved for now. Jurors are just as susceptible to these deceptions and judges should create a more transparent courtroom to allow jurors to fully understand the suspect and the case.

Ultimately, always invoke your Miranda rights and never revoke them. A lawyer on the defense side should always be present. Do not speak and do not let your conscience guilt you into speaking out of fear for how that will be perceived. Everything you say can and will be used in the court of law. Till that time withdraw and do not engage. Everyone will say something of an incriminating offense. Be aware, keep calm, and stay silent. What is your breaking point? And who is guilty?


About the Creator


Welcome to my page! I am a writer whose interests are vast and believes in the art of the word. In my writing you will find Non-Fiction, Fiction, and poetry in pursuit of the value of language.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.