Police suspect interviews with autistic adults: The impact of truth telling versus deception on testimony

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Abstract

Investigative interviews by police are socially and cognitively demanding encounters, likely presenting significant challenges to those on the autism spectrum. Behavioral and communication differences mean that autistic people may also be more likely to be perceived as deceptive in the context of an investigative interview. In the present study, 32 autistic and 33 (age and IQ-matched) non-autistic adults took part in a novel virtual burglary scenario in either an ‘innocent’ or ‘guilty’ condition. In a subsequent mock-police interview, innocent suspects were instructed to tell the truth about what they did, while guilty suspects were instructed to lie in order to convince the interviewer of their innocence. In the mock-interviews, innocent autistic mock-suspects reported fewer details that would support their innocence than non-autistic mock-suspects, although both innocent and guilty autistic and non-autistic mock-suspects reported similar levels of investigation-relevant information and had similar levels of statement-evidence consistency. In post-interview questionnaires, innocent and guilty autistic mock-suspects self-reported greater difficulty in understanding interview questions, higher anxiety and perceived the interview as less supportive than non-autistic participants. Implications for investigative interviewing with autistic suspects and cues to deception are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1117415
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was conducted as part of PhD research undertaken by RB, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (2096910).

Data availability statement
The raw data supporting the conclusions of this article will be made available by the authors, without undue reservation.

Keywords

  • Investigative Interviewing
  • Autism
  • Deception
  • Social Perception
  • Virtual Environment
  • deception
  • virtual environment
  • autism (ASD)
  • investigative interviewing
  • social perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology

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