‘What Would You Say if You Were Guilty?’ Suspects' Strategies During a Hypothetical Behavior Analysis Interview Concerning a Serious Crime


Jaume Masip, Department of Social Psychology and Anthropology, School of Psychology, University of Salamanca, Avda. de la Merced, 109-131, 37005 Salamanca, Spain.

E-mail: jmasip@usal.es


Previous research has shown that the Behavior Analysis Interview (BAI) indicators of guilt or innocence are merely commonsense notions. In this study, we examined whether this would lead suspects of a serious crime to try to manipulate their behavior during a BAI in order to look innocent. A serious crime was described to 74 undergraduates who were asked to imagine that they were guilty or innocent. They then completed a questionnaire about the strategies that they would use during a BAI. Both guilty and innocent suspects were more willing to show the innocence rather than guilt indicators of the BAI. Innocent suspects had a blind faith in the power of innocence to demonstrate that they were not guilty. The general (non-BAI) strategies coincided with those of previous studies; this indicates that prior findings on strategies can be generalized to serious crimes and that strategies can be examined with uncomplicated procedures such as the one used in this study. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.