Negative emotional states, life adversity, and interrogative suggestibility



Purpose. Interrogative suggestibility has been shown to vary according to cognitive and personality factors and if reliably measured may predict performance in real forensic interviews. It is therefore of both theoretical and practical interest to identify which psychological factors are most closely related to suggestible responding. This study examines the extent to which individual differences in negative emotional states predict performance on a measure of interrogative suggestibility and also tests the assumption that self-reports of negative life events are associated with suggestibility.

Method. A non-clinical sample (N= 80) of participants was administered the brief form of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS-21), the Life Experiences Survey (LES), and the Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale (GSS-1).

Results. Negative emotional states were found to correlate positively, although moderately, with all of the suggestibility measures. Multiple regression analyses found significant predictive models emerged for Yield 1, Yield 2, and Total Suggestibility. Each of these predicted a small proportion of the variance. Negative life event impact ratings were not associated with interrogative suggestibility.

Conclusions. The findings suggest that brief self-report measures of negative emotional states are limited as predictors of interrogative suggestibility. The results also call into question the predictive utility of traditional checklist measures of life adversity for forensic purposes.