Issues Related to Fabricated Reports

Fabricated reports occur more frequently in forensic interviews than is commonly recognized (Ekman, 1992; Porter & Yuille, 1996). Even experienced professionals, however, have considerable difficulty in detecting such deception (Ekman & O’Sullivan, 1991). In the Province of Nova Scotia in Canada, up to 189 people are under investigation for fabricating sexual abuse incidents and defrauding millions of dollars from government programs (Porter, Yuille & Lehman, 1999).

Compared to reports of actual memories, fabricated memories appear equally clear and vivid, and seem to be narrated with confidence equal to actual memories (Porter, Yuille & Lehman, 1999). Juror simulation studies, however, demonstrate that jurors are unable to accurately identify children who are fabricating.  These findings are particularly important because the mock jurors in this study were 987 adults residing in the Buffalo, New York area.  In other words, the mock jurors in this study approximated the average jury pool (Orcutt et al., 2001).

In-group vs. Out-group Effects

People characteristically attribute positive qualities to their own in-groups; and simultaneously, they attribute negative qualities to out-group individuals. These dynamics are especially pronounced under conditions of inter-group conflict (Brewer, 1979). In particular, out-group individuals are stereotyped as untrustworthy, deceitful, and hostile (Schopler & Insko, 1992). “Ultimate attribution error” – Negative acts exhibited by out-group members are attributed to internal dispositions of the actor’s personality.  In contrast, positive acts of out-group members are explained away by attributing them to luck or unusual circumstances (Pettigrew, 1979). In-group members exaggerate the differences between themselves and out-group individuals. These exaggerated differences are then attributed to conditions that identify the in-group as superior. (Hewstone, 1990). Exaggerated differences between in-groups and out-groups results in the “out-group homogeneity effect.” This effect leads in-group members to regard out-group members as more homogenous or similar to each other compared to the presumed heterogeneity of the in-group (Park & Judd, 1990).

When encountering difficult circumstances such as a crisis, in-group members will assign responsibility for the crisis to out-groups (Tajfel & Forbes, 1981). In-group members can also confirm their assumptions regarding out-group individuals via “self-fulfilling” prophecies.  This outcome prevails when: (1) In-group members endorse biased assumptions regarding an out-group. (2) The biased assumptions influence in-group treatment of out-groups. (3) Out-group individuals react to this biased treatment in ways that confirm the biased assumptions of the in-group (Rosenthal & Rubin, 1978).