Confessing to an immoral act: Consequences to moral beliefs and inferences about moral dispositions

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter considers the dilemma of people who confess to immoral acts that they did not commit. In law enforcement, an all too common occurrence is for police to convince suspects to confess to a crime that they actually did not commit. In the ordinary business of life, people occasionally admit to transgressions that are untrue. Sometimes, the confession is made to protect someone else as a gesture of prosocial morality. According to Kassin and Wrightsman the most damning evidence given in court is a confession. Since most cases that are presented to juries involve not-guilty pleas, the confessions in question have typically been given to police prior to trial. What is sometimes lost in discussions of false confessions is the effect of confessions on the perpetrator. The chapter demonstrates the new empirical work, that people can be induced to confess to immoral actions, even when their behavior was in fact moral, ethical, and legal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Social Psychology of Morality
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781317288251
ISBN (Print)9781138929067
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Psychology


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