Remorse in oral and handwritten false confessions

Gina Villar, Joanne Arciuli, Helen M. Paterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose The search for objective markers of a true versus false confession is an important but under-researched area. In the first study of its kind, we examined the utility of expressions of remorse as a marker of a true compared with a false oral versus written confession. Methods We elicited both written and oral false confessional statements and true accounts from 85 participants. Results Results showed that the proportion of remorseful words that participants produced was significantly higher in their true compared with their false confessions, in both oral and written confession modalities. Furthermore, an acoustic analysis of oral confessions revealed that participants' remorseful utterances were significantly louder in their true compared with their false confessions. Conclusions These findings suggest that the presence and nature of remorseful utterances in oral and written statements are useful in the identification of true versus false confessions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-269
Number of pages15
JournalLegal and Criminological Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Criminology
  • False confessions
  • Remorse


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