False confession to robbery: the roles of suggestibility, anxiety, memory disturbance and withdrawal symptoms

Pekka Santtila, P Alkiora, M Ekholm, P Niemi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This article describes a case of a post-office robbery in which two validated false confessions were made. A young man, Mr S, made a detailed confession to the actual robbery whereas his partner, Ms A, confessed to having been present when Mr S and his accomplice left to carry out the robbery as well as to hearing Mr S confess to the robbery. Both of these confessions later turned out to be false. Mr S's confession had the hallmarks of a coerced-internalized false confession, compared with Ms As, which was more likely a coerced-compliant false confession. The individual and situational factors that probably contributed to these false confessions are described. Mr S had high suggestibility, low memory ability, and high anxiety. Ms A did not have these vulnerabilities. Both had been drinking alcohol and using drugs for an extended period of time, thus resulting in relative lack of memory for the day of the robbery as well as withdrawal symptoms while incarcerated which may have contributed to the confessions. Aspects of Mr S's confession that pointed to its unreliability are also described.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)399–415
Number of pages17
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • coerced-compliant
  • coerced-internalized
  • drug withdrawal
  • false confession
  • interrogative suggestibility
  • memory disturbance

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