False Confession Experiment

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Research Question

The research question in the article, Innocent but Proven Guilty: Eliciting Internalized False Confessions Using Doctored-Video Evidence by Nash and Wade (2008), is: Could fake-video evidence lead people to believe they committed an act they never did? This research question is interesting as it reveals how people may be driven to make false confessions when presented with a fake-video evidence (Nash & Wade, 2008). It further shows that the criminal justice system may be apprehending people, who have made false confessions, and deeming them guilty of actions they have not committed. The real criminals are left free to continue to commit more criminal offences. The research questions, therefore, attempts to investigate the probability and possibilities of people being proven guilty based on fabricated evidences.

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Research conducted by several scholars has indicated that most innocent people are proven guilty for criminal offences they did not commit. Such people end up behind bars serving time for offences they were not part of. Fake evidence is the main contributing factor to innocent people being locked in prisons. Fake evidence, such as fake eyewitness testimonies and fake-video evidence, pushes innocent people to make false confessions. With the advances in technology, more sophisticated and affordable computers, digital machines, and desk-top video editing machines have become more popular. These digital devices have also made it easier for people to recreate past events and use them against other people. When people view these videos, they are forced to believe that they were part and parcel of past criminal offences. The implication is false confessions by these people. Fake eyewitnesses may also convince people that they are guilty of committing various crimes through their fake testimonies. Fake eyewitnesses may also convince these people by suggesting that there are videos, which recorded them committing the criminal offences. As a result, these innocent people end up making false confessions. The main purpose of this paper is to investigate how fake-video evidences make people to believe they committed an act they never did.


The researchers, Nash and Wade, compared between fake-video evidence and fake eyewitness testimonies in order to illustrate whether fake-video evidence could lead people to believe they committed a criminal offence they never did before. The researchers, further, employed a metacognitive model, which helped them to make a clear comparison. Three tests were also conducted (Nash & Wade, 2008). These tests include investigating whether fake-video evidence generated more false confessions that fake eyewitness evidence, find out a new model for examining the impact of fake evidence on false confessions, and to collect data on cognitive forces. The task the subjects performed is likely to be very important but the exact nature of their stimuli is not.


The main findings of the research were that the participants believed to have committed criminal offences when presented with false evidence. 93% of the total subjects internalized and signed the confessions forms. 87% out of the 93% signed the confession papers on the first request while 7% signed after the second request. In experiment one and two, 67% and 73% of the subjects believed they committed the criminal offences after viewing the fake-video evidences (Nash & Wade, 2008). On the other side, experiment one and two showed that 60% and 13% of the subjects respectively made false confessions when presented with fake eyewitness evidence. These figures answer the research questions by suggesting that there is a high likelihood of people making false confessions when presented with fake-video evidences.


Nash and Wade found out that fake-video evidences produced false confessions from innocent people. The implication of the experiments is that most of the subjects believed that the main aim of the research was to investigate their gambling habits and not false confessions, compliance issues, and memory distortions among many others. This reveals how the topic on false confessions is not always a product of the many experiments that are often conducted by scholars. An effective model should, therefore, be developed to deal with the fabricated evidence presented to innocent people. Future research should be carried out to find the frequency of fake-evidence videos resulting into false confessions. The impacts of the fake-video confessions on false confessions should be investigated. Lastly, effective strategies should be researched to get rid of the fake-video evidences and fake eyewitness evidences in order to prevent the justice system from apprehending the wrong people.


In my opinion, the article, Innocent but Proven Guilty: Eliciting Internalized False Confessions Using Doctored-Video Evidence by Nash and Wade (2008), is very resourceful how fake-video evidences results into false confessions. The research design of the article makes sense. The research design was also perfect for answering the research question. No other research design could be used to answer the research question. I would involve the criminal justice officials in further experiments. The criminal justice officials, such as criminal detectives, could be used to convey the fake evidences. Such an experiment would show whether the frequency of fake-video evidence and fake eyewitness evidences in producing false confessions would be equal or not. An example of such an experiment with a similar research question was conducted recently by Frances Chapman in 2006 in his article, Coerced Internalized False Confessions and Police Interrogations: The Power of Coercion. Frances Chapman conducted a research on how people fall victims of coerced internalized false confessions.

In his experiment, Frances investigated how police interrogations resulted into coerced internalized false confessions. He further investigated the Billy Wayne Cope case in order to come up with a conclusive argument. The article by Frances Chapman (2006) is similar to Nash and Wade’s article (2008) as it attempts to point out how the criminal justice system or rather the legal system apprehends people on the basis of false evidence. France shows how the interrogators use fake-video evidences and fake eyewitness evidences to convince their suspects of taking part in various criminal offences. Both articles show how the suspects are made to believe that their lack of memory brought about by alcohol, stress, and blackout may have driven them to forget their involvement in certain criminal offences.


In conclusion, fake-video evidence results into coerced internalized false confessions. Human beings are made to believe that they committed various criminal offences even when they never did. Fake-video evidences and fake eyewitness evidence are the main contributors of innocent people being proven guilty. However, Nash and Wade reveal in their article, Innocent but Proven Guilty: Eliciting Internalized False Confessions Using Doctored-Video Evidence (2008), that the frequency of fake-video evidence resulting into false confessions is higher compared to the fake eyewitness evidences.


Robert Nash & Kimberley Wade. (2008). Innocent but Proven Guilty: Eliciting Internalized False Confessions Using Doctored-Video Evidence, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 1-28.

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False Confession Experiment. (2018, Dec 18). Retrieved December 9, 2022 , from

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