Investigating the Effects of Repeated Miranda Warnings: Do They Perform a Curative Function on Common Miranda Misconceptions?

Authors


  • This study was supported by grants (0817689 and 1219430) from the Law and Social Sciences Program, National Science Foundation, to Richard Rogers as the principal investigator. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Correspondence to: Richard Rogers, Department of Psychology, University of North Texas, 1155 Union Circle #311280, Denton, TX 76203-5017, USA. E-mail: Richard.Rogers@unt.edu

Abstract

In Miranda v. Arizona (1966), the Supreme Court of the United States required that custodial suspects be apprised of their Constitutional rights against self-incrimination. The Court could not have anticipated the rampant popularization of Miranda warnings in subsequent movies and television dramas. Influenced by public media, many arrestees assume that they already “know” their rights, with no awareness of their misconceptions. The current investigation examines whether repeated exposures to Miranda warnings performs any “curative” function (i.e., dispelling common Miranda misconceptions held by pretrial defendants). The accumulative effects of five different Miranda warnings were tested over a several-hour period on 260 detainees. For the nearly half (113 or 43.5%) with three or more misconceptions, improvement (i.e., ≥2 fewer misconceptions) occurred for only 35 defendants. Predictably, this improved group also tended to display a better understanding of Miranda-relevant vocabulary words and a better recall of the administered Miranda warnings than their unimproved counterparts. On average, the improved group also performed better on general measures of intelligence, and listening and reading comprehension, while still evidencing substantial cognitive deficits. The curative function of Miranda advisements is considered in light of these findings. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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