On Saul Kassin: Our Letter To Dr Douglas Starr Who Wrote An Effusive Profile In The “New Yorker”

Dr Douglas Starr
Co-director of Science Journalism Program
Co-director, Center for Science & Medical Journalism
Professor of Journalism
College of Communication
Boston University

Dear Dr Starr

We would like to take issue with your article “The Interview: Do police interrogation techniques produce false confessions?” in the Dec 2013 New Yorker.

Specifically the effusive passages on the New York psychologist Saul Kassin. Dr Kassin was a hired gun in the annulled 2011 appeal of the Amanda Knox case in Italy. In our assessment he has widely conflated the defense’s (spurious) position he was paid for with an objective academic analysis.

Our posting community consists of professionals in legal and criminal-science fields, and we have quite detachedly uncovered over 50 false claims in Kassin’s widely-promoted papers and TV and conference appearances.  The presumed intent of those was to spark more paid court business and more academic advancement.

Amanda Knox was confirmed guilty for lying about her so-called confession a year ago by the Italian Supreme Court, and her sentence of three years was confirmed. This is the same “confession” Kassin builds huge castles upon, the false accusation which had placed an innocent man in jail for three weeks, during which time Knox never recanted.

So exactly what is left standing of Kassin’s position today is hard to discern. However, instead of exposing him and chastizing him, your New Yorker piece seems to have set out without due caution - no buyer-beware - to make your readers respect and associate with him.

This matter isnt over in Italy, because those many framed by Kassin are unhappy about baseless claims of illegal acts presented at a global John Jay College conference and many other forums and tv shows. Any one of those who feel impugned can trigger a felony investigation for poisoning American opinion in an attempted obstruction of Italian justice. Out of which, Kassin might find himself fighting charges incurring possible prison time.

If credible crime experts here in the United States such as yourself now come down in support of those falsely impugned in Italy, and in rejection of Kassin’s categoric false claims, it might assist to defuse a tense and ugly situation, and might keep Kassin’s legal troubles to a minimum. We dont speak on behalf of the officers framed in Italy but we might have some sway as we accept no payment from anyone and are widely trusted there. 

We would like to ask you to read these various posts explaining where Kassin went wrong, particularly the fourth one, and then decide what you might like to do. It would be good if this could include inserting an addendum into the New Yorker explaining that due caution should be observed toward Kassin’s claims.

If it would help I will need to be soon in Boston and could sit with you. I can also suggest several experts that you might like to consult with.

Kind regards

Peter Quennell
Editor True Justice

[Everything in this letter applies equally to the ludicrously inaccurate claims of ex FBI “mindhunter” John Douglas in his books and lobbying at the State Department.]

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Previously Kassin has tried to dismiss these posts calling him out for framing fine justice officials in the same way as the Wizard Of Oz: “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”.

Perhaps he will also try this with Dr Starr, who might be better served instead to read all the posts carefully as this could be a legal situation.

Scott Sleek (image below) posts without any checking Kassin’s new false claims below that he was attacked purely on “personal grounds” by “Knox hate groups” and is a good scientist.

Really??? In framing many good Italians, far away in America (and only in English), wasn’t it Kassin himself who was propagating hatred and personal threats?


More recently, APS Fellow Saul Kassin of Williams College, who studies the factors that lead criminal suspects to make false confessions, found himself the focus of intimidating emails and disparaging blog posts. In Kassin’s case, the criticism was aimed not at his research per se, but at the application of it. The trouble began after Kassin authored a paper titled “Why Confessions Trump Innocence” published in 2012 in The American Psychologist.  In that paper, he argued that a false confession can cascade into other evidence.

“Studies (as well as real-life cases in the United States) also specifically show that the presence of a confession, because it creates a strong belief, can contaminate latent fingerprint judgments, eyewitness identifications, and interpretations of other types of evidence,” he wrote.

But what particularly inflamed the blogosphere was Kassin’s use of a headline-grabbing example — the case of Amanda Knox, an American college student who was convicted of murder. Kassin had provided a pro bono analysis of Knox’s case in her appeal to the Italian court, recommending that her confession be treated with caution. He noted that Knox had been immediately identified as a suspect and presumed guilty, confessed after three days of denials and interrogations, and did not have any attorney present when undergoing questioning. In addition, Kassin pointed out, her statements were not recorded.

“I used it as an example, not realizing the depth of a couple of Amanda Knox hate groups that track professionals who support Amanda Knox,” he said.

Kassin said the hate emails he received, and the blog posts criticizing him, didn’t focus on the science itself, but on his motives for analyzing Knox’s case. In essence, the attacks were personal. Some of the messages he received felt threatening, he said, and included statements such as: “We know where you work.” A few bloggers also wrote posts lambasting Kassin’s integrity, in one case even calling him a “shill.”

That’s Scott Sleek below who wrote this above and was another dupe taken in by Kassin’s frame-up.  There are far more highly trained professionals on this site than anywhere. It is pretty obvious.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/14/14 at 08:13 PM | #

Starr’s New Yorker article was in the DECEMBER 9, 2013 Issue:


“The Interview:  Do police interrogation techniques produce false confessions?


The article describes and discusses False Confession, praises Kassin, but does not mention Kassin’s allegation’s re Knox.

Pioneers who describe actual phenomena may deserve credit. When they claim their existence even when they are actually absent, they deserve discredit.

Kassin used misinformation, disinformation, and blatant falsehoods wrt Knox, presumably hoping to further his reputation.

Kassin’s ambitions were overweening wrt Knox.

For that Kassin deserves the discredit you show him to have earned.

Pete, we await Starr’s response to your articulate challenge to Kassin’s authority.

Posted by Cardiol MD on 03/14/14 at 11:51 PM | #

The criticisms of Professor Kassin was many fold, and legitimate:

He relied on defense assertions alone and a brief reading of the Massei Report after the fact.

He submitted a paper on false confessions which the defense team stove piped to Judge Hellmann without him appearing in court for cross examination.

Never met with or interviewed Amanda Knox yet accepted her claim she had been coerced into accusing Patrick Lumumba.

In doing so, he went against his own thesis of the circumstances under which people can be coerced to make false confessions; she clearly did not fit his own criteria.

Avoiding fair criticism by applying the ‘hate group’ canard.

Oh well. He hung his professional integrity on a case which is now lost, and will follow him whenever he shows up in a court room again.

They might try to resurrect him IF Knox’s appeal to the ECtHR is accepted. It might be in his own best interests to lie low then 😊

Posted by Ergon on 03/15/14 at 12:06 AM | #

(1) Note similarities of Kassin to Doug Preston and Nina Burleigh who also spun fiction into fact.

They also bark at the messengers instead of coming clean and owning up to their myriad mistakes.

However Preston’s colleague in his own bizarre pro-Knox anti-Italy campaign, Spezi, is losing defamation suit after defamation suit.

Kassin, Preston and Burleigh could all face the same fate.

Also Spezi is likely facing prison under a Cassation ruling against him for interfering with the MOF/Narducci case. Mignini won big.

Note how Kassin, Preston and Burleigh have been pretty quiet of late. None have commented on the confirmed guilty verdict outcome by the Nencini court.


(2) Note similarities of Kassin to John Douglas the profiler who pats his own back in many books:

John Douglas in two books has come out with a false scenario of Knox’s interrogation remarkably similar to Kassin’s own.

He invents much more detail so the mistakes number up in the hundreds.- the most foolish take ever published on the events.


John Douglas has not commented on the confirmed guilty verdict outcome by the Nencini court.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/15/14 at 03:20 PM | #

Kassin will become more famous in Italy soon, and not in a good way, when the investigations into the false claims in Knox’s book are complete.

Knox gave Kassin a starring role in the book, as the last link in the post above describes. Here is the link again.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/15/14 at 03:35 PM | #

Now we hear there is even more trouble that Saul Kassin has got himself in.

He should have taken our warnings and responded smartly, instead of babbling on about haters and personal attacks. 

His name is coming up in the examination of the Hellmann appeal court of 2011 and how it became corrupt - along with Hampikian’s name.

It seems Kassin may have somehow got his “scientific thinking” about coerced confessions directly to Judge Hellmann and the thinking may have had a big effect.

This really IS obstruction of justice stuff - equally it would be for an American judge and court. A foolish man.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/15/14 at 07:42 PM | #

Kassin’s Academic Publications focus on techniques that persuade suspects to confess to crimes they did not commit - implicitly creating interrogator-forced False Confession.

In Knox’s case Kassin uses his own selective technique to create his self-fulfilling conclusion. (self-fulfilling prophecy?)

As Pete points out, Kassin is involved in Obstruction of Justice.

Standing-back, one realises that literature and history are replete with instances of voluntary, false-confession, NOT interrogator-forced False Confession.

Isn’t Sidney Carton’s voluntary submission to the Guillotine, in A Tale of Two Cities, constructively a Voluntary False Confession?

A man who wasn’t even in England when it began, confessed to starting The 1666 Great Fire of London, and was executed for it.

Many Police Stations are said to attract voluntary false-confessors they nickname Edward the Confessor (or Edwina).

Some people who have mentioned having-read certain writings, are so embarrassed by the shocked response of their audience that they then pretend they did NOT read it. Isn’t that Voluntary False Confession?

Posted by Cardiol MD on 03/15/14 at 10:53 PM | #

Hi Cardiol. All so true - and amusing.

Theres been chat on the PMFs that the profiling/false confession movement has fallen on hard times; its reliability is a lot less than it needs to be to be considered as science, and its made some bad mistakes and hindered police who need good evidence fast to keep all of us safe.

Already all over the world it is hard enough for police to keep us safe (this missing Malaysian aircraft now looks like a crime) and John Jay College where Kassin works is primarily a police academy. Maybe they will throw Kassin out on his ear as he blames police far too readily and in Amanda’s case very nastily.

What Kassin and also John Douglas have done in cooking the books for Amanda (as the third link above, the post by Fuji, shows) are potentially a real disaster for the wider profiling/false confession movement and make Knox’s whole defense look phony.

BRMull called it a crime against the science and if Kassin and John Douglas dont now act smart as this gets out (and the Italians impugned have ways to escalate it as the post explains) they will be shunned by colleagues world-wide.

This is a heavily science-driven site (see especially our DNA posts and psychology posts and your medical posts) and it is written by and attracts many professionals. Kassin is silly to stick his fingers in his ears and dismiss it as the work of haters. He shoots himself in the foot by doing so. Our advice is timely.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/16/14 at 11:48 AM | #

There is no evidence of hate speech on any of the postings here that would substantiate this claim: “I used it as an example, not realizing the depth of a couple of Amanda Knox hate groups that track professionals who support Amanda Knox,” he said.

A few bloggers also wrote posts lambasting Kassin’s integrity, in one case even calling him a “shill.”? Even calling him a “shill”? That sounds horrible! Has he ever recovered from that quasi-accurate description? Oh my! As if “shill” rises to the level of hate speech - and I’m not even sure anyone here ever used that word to describe him. 

I see a couple things happening here. First, the innocensors (my own invention - no hate in it) seem to be pulling out the canard of “hate groups” and “hate speech” as a way of preventing intelligent, informed debate. I know for a fact that the FOA sites will invect the most horrible hate on anyone who is not an innocensor, spewing the most incredible vile bile possible.

This leads me to my second point, which is that there is no evidence to disprove the hypothesis that the FOA themselves are sending shills to threaten some of their own. Nothing like a nice false flag operation to stir up the mud and dust and cover the tracks of the true crime.

Given Saul Kassin’s massively inaccurate description of AK’s so-called confession, I would add “quack” to “canard” and give the duck the voice he has earned. Is it hate speech to call a “quack” a “quack”?

Posted by Patrizio on 03/16/14 at 05:32 PM | #

Hello Pete, and all.

The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘confession’ thus:

1 an act of confessing, especially a formal statement admitting to a crime.
2 an account of one’s sins given privately to a priest.

Therefore, strictly speaking, Kassin’s work - whatever its merits- is inapplicable or invalid in Knox’s case, as she most certainly didn’t admit to the crime. So there was no confession, false or otherwise.

She admitted someone else to the crime, or falsely accused someone else of the crime of murder. Psychologically, as well as legally, this is entirely different.

Kassin would do well to heed Pete’s advice : from a psychological perspective he is getting into deep and tricky waters in leaving his position as it stands.

The most that Knox could have been said to confess to is being at the scene of the crime in its duration. And this, far from being shown to be false, has in fact been affirmed by both forensic and witness evidence.

(Also, as is transparently clear, both formal statements were written voluntarily, in response to her own requests to do so. There was no co-ercion to write statements. She begins by saying she feels most comfortable in writing things down.

Her latter statement, in addition, ‘hedges her bets’ by saying she is not sure if what she previously wrote was true, it may be, but then again maybe not.

At what point in time did she ‘remember’ that it wasn’t Patrick, and why leave him suffering in jail for 3 weeks? Why has she never apologized for this,  nor given him his court- ordered compensation?

These remain unanswered.)

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 03/16/14 at 08:36 PM | #

Hi Patrizio

Good on the FOA. If whoever is still part of the FOA is still fighting mightily behind the scenes to keep Kassin on a short chain, it’ll be because they think he is vital to the million-to-one long shot by Knox at the ECHR.

Kassin should read these posts (especially James Raper’s which shows how Knox’s claims were extensively contradicted - by herself) very closely if he is tempted to grandstand again, this time in Strasbourg.

By Kermit: http://truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/amanda_knox_lies_again_to_get_herself_into_another_european_court/

By James Raper: http://truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/note_for_strasbourg_court_and_state_department_/

By FinnMacCool: http://truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/multiple_provably_false_claims_about_false_confession/

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/16/14 at 11:42 PM | #

Hi Patrizio

Good in renouncing the “haters” being those here on the side of justice for the real victim and good science and the good name of Italy, and against the multi-million-dollar strongarm effort to poison American opinion against them.

You could also take exception to Kassin’s claims about Knox’s “experts” which he makes sound as if there is a whole raft of them. There really isnt..

1) No credible lawyer has taken up James Raper’s challenge, and Ted Simon and John Q Kelly essentially talk nonsense and do Knox harm by suggesting to her that she still has a chance.


2) Some with genuine expertise spoke up about the DNA but invariably got basic facts wrong.

After the Carabinieri lab work (which demonstrated the appallingness of the Cont-Vecchiotti work and the shoddy state of their own lab) and the Cassation requirement that contamination claims must be proven or not accepted) experts dried up sharply on that front.

The one DNA expert for Knox possibly still in the running is Greg Hampikian of Boise State University - who is in fact a biologist, with no court record. Like Kassin, Hampikian flew to Italy, and did murky things behind the scenes there, for which he is now being investigated.

Andrea Vogt uncovered the fact that a lot of public tax money went into supporting Hampikian and she rattled the university with her investigation. Let us guess. He is off the radar. 

3) Were there any other Knox experts? If so, other than the foolish Kassin and John Douglas, they have long ago jumped ship.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/16/14 at 11:47 PM | #

Hi SeekingUnderstanding

As you are a highly trained scientists in your own right, it would be good if you could comment from the perspective of a scientist on the “normalness” or otherwise of Kassin’s methods. Specifically:

1) Kassin’s target group

Not only did Knox not confess, as you define it, but Fuji in the third post linked to in the letter to Dr Starr said that according to Kassin’s own criteria Knox was far away from fitting within the vulnerable group as he himself defined it.


2) Kassin’s sources

We know for a fact from Perugia that Kassin made zero effort to interview any of those in the questura who had anything to do with Knox’s witness interview on the night in question.

Some 100% of his “fact base” comes from highly tainted sources like Bruce Fischer and Nina Burleigh, a PR shill for certain who has her own legal difficulties. Could sources be any more slanted than that?

3) Kassin’s peer review

BRMull could find zero proof that Kassin was ever properly peer-reviewed by anybody, although Kassin gave a KEYNOTE address with his Knox claims front-and-center to a global John Jay College conference, and the college president warmly introduced him.

Plus Kassin’s paper was published by the journal American Psychologist. http://truejustice.org/ee/documents/Perugia/AmericanPsychologistKassin.pdf

How could that happen without that paper being subject to peer review? My universal experience is good scientists WELCOME peer review. Here Kassin seems to have totally avoided it.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/17/14 at 12:01 AM | #

We still look forward to Kassin’s explanation of why Sollecito cracked so easily.

Kassin may not know who he is, not having actually read up on the case, but Sollecito was the guy in a nearby room who cracked when shown his phone-call records which proved he had been lying.

Then he pointed the blame at Knox. Read Sollecito’s second alibi.


That happened in mere minutes. No tag teams of interrogators, no days and days without food and water, no yelling or bright lights or threats of 30 years behind bars.

Definitely some of Kassin’s science should be applied to explaining this.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/17/14 at 02:48 AM | #

We dropped Grahame’s frustrated comment for the moment while I tell him all that is going on. We’ll email anyone we know the same email if they ask.

We are on quite a roll but wont be able to cause surprise if we tell the whole world in advance. One thing we can share is the Italian translation of Kassins wrong claims.

http://truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmkgiustiziameredith  There is some framing to be added tomorrow to that. More such translation from English to Italian is in the works.

Feel free to guess why!

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/17/14 at 06:49 AM | #

Given that there was not a false confession but only a false accusation - which inadvertently, through verbosity, placed AK at the scene of the crime - one can nevertheless look at Pete’s 3 points above [03/16/14 at 06:01 PM] hypothetically:

1) Target group? it was very striking to me that AK did not meet Kassin’s very own criteria. In no way could one say she was low in self-assertiveness. How could somebody with timidity have implicated Patrick? (And subsequently not recant).

It’s unthinkable. Likewise it cannot be claimed she is in any way cognitively impaired. She is very articulate, and thinks fast.

It might just be possible to make a case that she was traumatised in some way by the event - but Kassim’s own criteria stipulates that the person must be persuaded by the authorities to really believe that this said trauma was the reason they now have amnesia.

Her own statements throw doubt on such a belief, and propagate confusion and ambivalence, to me, rather than trauma. One would have to have been at the scene to assess the trauma incidence. Which brings one to point 2:

2) Souces? This is the part that makes another professional feel uncomfortable. In our work, source and authenticity are vital.

One is not there for the client as an advocate for any position they put forward. As in law, one cannot defend a position one knows to be indefensible. One can also say very little with absolute certainty.

One to one contact is the preferred source (and then there is client confidentiality) - failing that - close, listening, contact with those who have had this, or were there. In this case knowledge of Italian, culture and language, would also be a factor.

Professionally, one is taught to gently suggest to the client, when necessary - re something they are asserting, - that this may be ‘how they perceive it’, ‘how it seems to them’. Or, ‘let’s unravel this’...This is preferable to telling the client bluntly that what they are saying is untrue or a lie.

One brings to the fore the principle that the client is, ultimately, subjective, and there may be things the client does not know and needs to learn. (This is an important part of my work). Likewise, there are things the therapist needs to learn. Without the therapist’s own humility, the client will gain nothing, and no progress towards truth can be made.

If you notice, I am always careful to say : ‘it would appear to be’...‘it seems’...‘there is the impression’...’‘as far as one can assess’...and ‘sometimes’...‘possibly’... ‘In this interpretation’... etc.

This allows for the fact that none of us know the whole truth, and none of us were there, and none of us have had access to the court’s confidential psychiatric reports. If Kassin has, then professionally this should be stated.

(Also of course there are the inherent limitations of psychology itself, still a growing and evolving science).

I am extremely uncomfortable with categoric assertion.

3) Peer review? The point above relates to what one could call ‘team behaviour’. However, I am not acquainted with the behaviour of American professionals, which may differ from in England. The impression I sometimes have is that self-promotion is more acceptable in the US than here.

All I can say is that respect for the informed opinions of one’s colleagues is paramount to the integrity of any work.

(Chami might be able to add a little re professional and peer practice.)

I hope this helps.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 03/17/14 at 11:08 AM | #

Just to be clear (especially re point 2):

I am unhappy about any psychologist who hasn’t been officially involved in the case (from the Italian courts) making categoric judgements, about definitive guilt or innocence.

Only someone with access to primary sources (preferably not historically) as well as ALL the evidence, carefully considered, is in a position even to have such a categoric position.

The correct people to pronounce judgement upon guilt or innocence are the qualified judiciary. The name of the appropriate person is ‘Judge’.

I see the psychologist’s role not as someone who judges, but as one where he/she helps to explore - in a professional manner - deeper, usually hidden, factors, thereby allowing the truth to reveal itself.

To me that is where one’s special skill lies - allowing truths to surface in such a way that they speak for themselves, and so become authentic, reliable, and useful. But such revealing has to have a scrupulous internal consistency. (In other words, for example, if one has criteria for a technique/ theory, these must be adhered to).

Obviously this is my own position.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 03/17/14 at 02:50 PM | #

Beautiful beautiful to see the BRMull mention in Peter Quennell comment. He has been vindicated by the Nencini ruling after FOA tried to trash him for seeking justice.

The Moores even visited his family members to silence him, and now two courts in Italy uphold Mull’s thinking.

Beautiful also how SeekingUnderstanding explains the humility and caution of the true professional, the wisdom to know one’s limits. A lack of some of this and a mere surface examination and too little knowledge along with a large dose of Mellox koolaid may explain some of the skewed Kassin thinking with its wrong application to Knox.

As PQ points out, what can explain Raffaele’s hasty divulging to police that he was lying to them about Knox, and that she was not in his apartment all evening. He ‘broke’ rather quickly, so will Kassin assume this is also the result of illegal force? Knox was Raf’s Lumumba, he hinted she had done the crime without him, all from the stress of having his shoes removed at Questura?

It’s more likely that the tremendous guilt that creates panic and fear inside the perp is what makes him vulnerable to honest questioning. The very lies they resort to in an attempt to relieve the mental pressure show police what’s in the perp’s mind.

Shake up a container, whatever is inside it is the only thing that will come out. That something HAS to be inside the container already.

Knox squirreled around and tried to use cunning. She threw Lumumba to the wolves to buy time to think and to find a way out, a far cry from some halfwit acceding to whatever the cops suggest. She was fencing with them furiously.

She wanted to keep them confused about Patrick until Mom had sprung her.

I am continuing to reflect on the three defendants and how they might represent negative people in one’s own childhood whose influcence reached a flashpoint in the lives of those drawn to defend Meredith.

Posted by Hopeful on 03/17/14 at 03:40 PM | #

To Peter
Thank you so ever much for the update. If the forces of evil knew the advance information there would be even more panic among them.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 03/17/14 at 04:32 PM | #


Just for fun, I compiled a list of titles of publications of S.M. Kassin from 2012 using scopus. I cannot see the full text of any (they are asking for money!) but I find the free abstracts. Some of them explicitly mentions Amanda Knox.

Most of the abstracts suggest that the contents are rather in the form of opinions. You can perhaps comment better.

Appleby, S. C., Hasel, L. E., & Kassin, S. M. (2013). Police-induced confessions: An empirical analysis of their content and impact. Psychology, Crime and Law, 19(2), 111-128. 
Dror, I. E., Kassin, S. M., & Kukucka, J. (2013). New application of psychology to law: Improving forensic evidence and expert witness contributions. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 2(1), 78-81. 
Honts, C. R., Kassin, S. M., & Craig, R. A. (2013). ‘I’d know a false confession if I saw one’: A constructive replication with juveniles. Psychology, Crime and Law, 
Kassin, S. M. (2012). Paradigm shift in the study of human lie-detection: Bridging the gap between science and practice. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 1(2), 118-119. 
Kassin, S. M. (2012). Why confessions trump innocence. American Psychologist, 67(6), 431-445.
Kassin, S. M., Bogart, D., & Kerner, J. (2012). Confessions that corrupt: Evidence from the dna exoneration case files. Psychological Science, 23(1), 41-45.
Kassin, S. M., Dror, I. E., & Kukucka, J. (2013). The forensic confirmation bias: Problems, perspectives, and proposed solutions. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 2(1), 42-52. 
Kassin, S. M., Kukucka, J., Lawson, V. Z., & DeCarlo, J. (2014). Does video recording alter the behavior of police during interrogation? A mock crime-and-investigation study. Law and Human Behavior, 38(1), 73-83. 
Kukucka, J., & Kassin, S. M. (2013). Do confessions taint perceptions of handwriting evidence? an empirical test of the forensic confirmation bias. Law and Human Behavior, 
Wallace, D. B., & Kassin, S. M. (2012). Harmless error analysis: How do judges respond to confession errors? Law and Human Behavior, 36(2), 151-157.

Most of his papers have been cited only a few times.

Some sample of the references cited in one of his publications is seen below. Many of these papers have been highly cited.

Cues to deception (2003) Psychological Bulletin, 129 (1), pp. 74-118.

Ekman, P., Friesen, W.V. Detecting deception from the body or face (1974) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 29 (3), pp. 288-298.

Ekman, P., O’Sullivan, M. From flawed self-assessment to blatant whoppers: The utility of voluntary and involuntary behavior in detecting deception (2006) Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 24 (5), pp. 673-686.

Freud, S. Fragments of an analysis of a case of hysteria (1905) Collected papers, 3. Cited 12 times. Basic Books, New York, Reprinted in 1959

Garrett, B.L. (2011) Convicting the innocent: Where criminal prosecutions go wrong. Cited 47 times. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA

Inbau, F.E., Reid, J.E. (1962) Criminal interrogation and confessions. Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore

Inbau, F.E., Reid, J.E., Buckley, J.P. (1986) Criminal interrogation and confessions. Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore

Inbau, F.E., Reid, J.E., Buckley, J.P., Jayne, B.C. Criminal interrogation and confessions (5th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett, in press.

Kassin, S.M., Drizin, S.A., Grisso, T., Gudjonsson, G.H., Leo, R.A., Redlich, A.D.
Police-induced confessions: risk factors and recommendations. (2010) Law and human behavior, 34 (1), pp. 3-38.

Kassin, S.M., Fong, C.T. ‘I’m innocent!’: Effects of training on judgments of truth and deception in the interrogation room (1999) Law and Human Behavior, 23 (5), pp. 499-516.

Kleinmuntz, B., Szucko, J.J. Lie detection in ancient and modern times: A call for contemporary scientific study (1984) American Psychologist, 39 (7), pp. 766-776.

Loftus, E.F. Intelligence Gathering Post-9/11 (2011) American Psychologist, 66 (6), pp. 532-541.

Lombroso, C. L’homme criminel (2nd French ed., 1895). Cited in P.V. Trovillo, a history of lie detection (1939) Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology and Police Science, 30, pp. 848-881.

Meissner, C.A., Kassin, S.M. “He’s guilty!”: Investigator bias in judgments of truth and deception (2002) Law and Human Behavior, 26 (5), pp. 469-480.

Porter, S., Brinke, L.T. Reading between the lies: Identifying concealed and falsified emotions in universal facial expressions (2008) Psychological Science, 19 (5), pp. 508-514.

Weinberger, S. Airport security: Intent to deceive? (2010) Nature, 465 (7297), pp. 412-415.

Vrij, A., Granhag, P.A. Eliciting cues to deception and truth: What matters are the questions asked (2012) Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 1 (2), pp. 110-117.

Vrij, A., Mann, S., Fisher, R.P. An empirical test of the behaviour analysis interview (2006) Law and Human Behavior, 30 (3), pp. 329-345.

I cannot access most of the paper but the titles are illuminating (only the chosen part is illuminated and the rest are kept in dark). I must frankly confess that this is not my area of specialization and the most of the papers in these area look very similar (excuse me!).

I feel that he should not have explicitly used her name in any formal publications. I do not understand why the reviewers did not point it out (that makes it a very specific case and the focus should be on general aspects).

The titles of his papers have a distinct style: just compare them with the titles of the references he himself has cited (ignore the self citations).

Posted by chami on 03/17/14 at 06:03 PM | #

Sorry to go off topic but this might be of interest:


“...The Court of Florence had made an application to extradite Mr Abdi Badri to Italy, but the claim was rejected on the grounds that assurances given about Italian prison conditions were not sufficient.”

I hope the Knox team don’t get any ideas…

Posted by Odysseus on 03/17/14 at 07:02 PM | #


I have personally visited a police station several times and several courts of justice and medical doctors so often (I am supposed to get a heart operation but I am still bargaining!). The aspect that has not been covered by any of the articles: the authority!

A police officer, in his proper uniform, wields enormous power in terms of authority. Just think a doctor asking a police officer to remove his clothes and lie down for an examination! Or a judge in the court asking him to shut up!

The power works very well with common man- with poor education, poor understanding of the rules and poor knowledge of his rights and general awe of the power of the privileged.

It works best with people who are usually scared of the authority. If you add to this people who are psychologically weak to resist pressure, this becomes a golden combination.

The real question is whether Amanda Knox was convicted for her confession? Was there no other evidences before the judges and juries?

Amanda Knox had a great advantage (most politicians use it whenever they can): as she had to depend on a translator, she was getting considerably time to think and plan her response. Her poor boyfriend of one week was denied that benefit!

It is patently unfair to compare police in the US with police in the continent. US police is typically arrogant.

Posted by chami on 03/17/14 at 07:04 PM | #

“I feel that he should not have explicitly used her name in any formal publications. “
You are absolutely right: it is normal professional etiquette not to refer to case studies by actual reference (or, if doing so, to change the name to a pseudonym ).
There is client confidentiality, which has strict rules, and there is also, as said above, the important principle that the psychologist is not an advocate, or spokesperson for the client / case, but a professional whose practice requires a substantial degree of objectivity and honesty.
In other words, if one finds evidence that contradicts - and therefore dilutes - one’s main thesis, one is still honour bound (to use that phrase!) to give all sides to the question.
It is a basic, and very important premise in all science (as I’m sure you know) that the researcher does not give in to the temptation to find what he/she would like to find. One sets out to find the truth - whatever that might be. One may not like it when it is found - but that is what science is, and that too, is what makes for paradigm shifts and genuine discoveries…eventually!
Team work is important in science, because everyone can nudge each other into greater precision, and greater truthfulness.

Time will make a great deal clearer, and give a much needed perspective, on the Knox and Sollecito case - of this I’m sure.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 03/17/14 at 07:11 PM | #

SeekingUnderstanding once again impresses! Further, where is any “hate speech” above? Just excellent analyses through and through.

Descending Darkness states that AK said “here is a present for Magnini” when she turned over her statement. That doesn’t sound like coercion to me - more like a carefully concocted promotion of a lie.

AK continuously lies in wait for information and positions that she can appropriate and use as her own, for her own ends. She is not smart enough to think of these things on her own - she basically steals them from others. She picked up on Donino’s “suggestion” that trauma makes one forget and ran with it. One can hear AK thinking - “Oh - I will turn that idea around and use that against them!” - and she subsequently jumped on the trauma bandwagon, happily traumatizing Lumumba in the process.

The more I consider the whole situation, the more I think good psychologists could unravel everything in short order, if given the opportunity, as SeekingUnderstanding has already begun to do ...

Posted by Patrizio on 03/17/14 at 07:34 PM | #

The link I gave above for the Telegraph article doesn’t seem to work but this one should:


Posted by Odysseus on 03/17/14 at 07:57 PM | #


I have gone through the two articles (the New Yorker and American Psychologist) once more. American Psychologist has a decent impact factor and should not have accepted the paper for publication.

The conclusions drawn are as good as the premises they are based on and I do not know the specific comments made by the reviewers. In short, Kassin’s paper in American Psychologist can be briefly described as GIGO (garbage in, garbage out: an acronym made world famous by IBM).

The article by Dr Starr is different in the sense that it is not published in a peer reviewed journal but in a magazine is hugely popular and is widely read and respected (another magazine that I was very fond of was Punch - but it has died long ago).

Starr is trying to provide an escape route for the American interrogator by simply blaming the failure of the system on the “training” of the individuals. He does fail to explain why the psychologists were sleeping all these days?

Is the American system so delicate (should I say vulnerable) that one man can pervert it for so long? He offers weak arguments that can only be published in the New Yorker (they had, and still have, very good cartoons - most were beyond my head - but that is my fault, obviously).

Starr admits, without ever saying so, that the American criminal system is broken and desperately needs emergency repairs. He gives one example of Reid Inc but there are dozens like that (that he does not say explicitly but hints at indirectly). His article is interesting reading because of his nice story-telling skills.

Posted by chami on 03/17/14 at 09:13 PM | #

Hello chami,

That is interesting - many thanks.

I am wondering whether some of the problems derive from the difference between an adversarial criminal justice system and an inquisitorial one?

Perhaps in an adversarial system evidence might be sought from psychologists that would directly support only one of the black or white, adversarial positions?

Could this not encourage work to be presented from a one-sided angle?

I certainly don’t think it is helpful to the development of psychology for it to be strongly adversarial within itself. Two polarized camps which do not meet in the middle are unlikely to help find resolutions for difficult situations. And one doesn’t turn to psychology in easy situations.

I think the Italian inquisitorial system has a lot to recommend it (even if its flaw is great slowness!).

Thinking about actually delivering in Counselling, I am grateful for any reliable method that successfully aids me in ‘building bridges’, - in the way I indicated above (comment 5.08am - US time).

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 03/17/14 at 09:56 PM | #

Hello Patrizio, and thank you.

Although it would be very daunting indeed (and that’s probably an understatement) - I would have liked to be able to offer Counselling to either Amanda or Raffaele, or to at least try for one session.

It didn’t need to have been the way it has turned out to be, these last few years. There could have been a different, a better approach. There are other psychologists I know who might have been able to be constructive, too, and thereby mitigate the suffering experienced by the Kerchers.

I consider both AK and RS to have been, by and large, poorly supported by those around them, and very foolishly advised.

If one considers all the manipulative publicity, the notoriety and the reams of ill-mannered verbal expression generated by it… what has it achieved?  What gain has it been to anyone, short-term or long-term?

Unfortunately for AK and RS, it is now difficult to draw back from. I am glad to hear, though, that some quarters have gone quiet. Let’s hope this increases. As recently mentioned - what about some reflection? Time to learn to reflect…

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 03/17/14 at 10:26 PM | #


I think our colleague on the other side of the pond, the venerable Prof from Boise State, has wisely chosen to stay silent for the time being. He too has decent publications and he has made very reasonable arguments in his scientific papers (I have gone through one of them; his assertions in his publications are broadly inconsistent with his claims about Amanda Knox in public forums).

Quoting Kassin, “... that track professionals who support Amanda Knox,” Most professionals who support Amanda Knox blindly have lost their professional vision when it comes about the all American girl. Hampikian has not been neutral in his approach (if evidences provided by Andrea Vogt is any indication; he is both trying to hide and run) when it comes to Amanda Knox nor did he apply science to this case fairly. Is Kassin any different?

But to be fair, we should also remember that scientists are people like us with a fair share of unfair bias!

Posted by chami on 03/18/14 at 03:40 AM | #

Amanda Knox asking for translators for court documents.


A bit late, I think.

Posted by Ergon on 03/18/14 at 05:27 AM | #

Of course, there are false confessions, many of them “helped along” by overzealous police interrogators. Often, the false confessors are either mentally challenged and/or poor and/or minority.

None of those circumstances applied in this case.

I sure hope that New Yorker article did not mention Amanda Knox. If it did, shame on them!

Posted by Earthling on 03/18/14 at 07:34 AM | #

well said, Earthling.

Any case study on the false statement by Knox would need to be analysed in comparison, like to like, of other case studies where the false statement was in fact primarily a false accusation.

In this case the false accusation transferred the blame onto a totally innocent person, and resulted in their imprisonment and long-term suffering.

It might be of interest to know how many other false accusations resulted in arrests of other people (NOT the one confessing) -for example.

The motive for transference of blame might be interesting to study,- perhaps.

In psychology, transference is a well-known phenomenon which has been widely studied.

It is a separate issue that AK confessed to being at the scene of the crime, and hearing the scream. These have not been proven to be false.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 03/18/14 at 11:16 AM | #

Hi Ergon

Knox’s Tiitter request for translation is indeed far too little far too late, always the name of the game for her.

Her forces should have been reading the objective reports over here, not their absurd forums (and Frank Sforza) where fiction gets piled upon fiction. 

McCalls’ Wiki has excellent translations as do TJMK and the PMFs. The State Department and courts have ready access to them. We know judges and lawyers have been reading them.

Knox’s campaign in contrast is widely know to have played fast and dirty (when she was still in prison) with translations; and none of them can be trusted.

Nothing Heavey and Moore and Preston and Fischer can do about that now. They messed up badly, way back.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/18/14 at 03:34 PM | #

Still keeping an eye on them is good, looks like she wants to muddy the waters in time for requests for her extradition. I very much doubt the President Hillary Clinton or whoever is in the State Department by then will pay her too much mind.

Posted by Ergon on 03/18/14 at 03:47 PM | #
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