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Remorse in oral and handwritten false confessions




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.


We elicited both written and oral false confessional statements and true accounts from 85 participants.


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.


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.