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Opposing determinants of compliance and interrogative suggestibility

Baxter, James and Bain, Stella and Pringle, Andrew and Fowler, Holly and Tafili, Tedis (2013) Opposing determinants of compliance and interrogative suggestibility. Personality and Individual Differences, 54 (8). pp. 918-924. ISSN 0191-8869

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The Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scales (GSS 1 & 2) can illustrate why interviewees yield to pressure from interrogators. Variations of the GSS procedure can help isolate individual factors contributing to interrogative suggestibility. Induced malingering is one variation, instructing participants to ‘fake bad’ on the GSS. The present study used this method in an attempt to reconcile the conflicting findings of previous malingering studies. An innovation was to pre-test participants on the standard GSS 2 to allow them to be categorised as showing Low, Medium, or High interrogative suggestibility. These three groups then undertook the parallel GSS 1, under instruction to role-play a suspect attempting to appear abnormally suggestible. Results showed marked differences in the direction in which faking scores changed, from those at pre-testing, between the Low and the High groups. The High group showed decreased GSS scores and the Low group an increase: the Medium group scores followed the trend of the Low group scores. These results may explain previous inconsistencies between studies and may also show how differing expectancies and levels of interpersonal trust may affect forensic interviewees’ waiving of their right to silence.