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To tell or not to tell, that is the question: The effect of alcohol on willingness to disclose one’s own transgressions versus someone else’s transgressions

Conference contribution
Authors Angelica Hagsand
Jacqueline Evans
Nadja Schreiber Compo
Erika Arcuri
Katherine Hoogestyen
Omri Diamond
Christian Angel
Published in Nordic Network for Research on Psychology and Law (NNPL), Uppsala, Sweden, 23-24th of September 2016
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords alcohol, disclosure, transgressions, suspects, interviewing
Subject categories Applied Psychology


Intoxicated witnesses and suspects are common, and they are often intoxicated during their first interview. Alcohol impairs activity in the frontal lobes, which leads to impaired executive functions (e.g. impulse control, judgement), which in turn could have negative consequences (e.g. oversharing sensitive information). In a legal context, it is of interest to examine if intoxicated persons are willing to disclose either a personal transgression or someone else’s transgression during an interview. In the present study, participants were randomly assigned to a 3 (Beverage: alcohol vs. placebo vs. control) x 2 (Transgression type: self vs. other) between-subject design. When participants were served their first (out of three) drink in the bar lab, they all witnessed the bartender take a (fake) shot of vodka and say that they should not tell anyone. Afterwards, half of the participants were asked to either report a personal transgression or wrongdoing, defined as something unethical or immoral. The other half were asked to report if they noticed any wrongdoing or an unethical act carried out by the bartender. Data-collection is currently ongoing; all interviews will be scored for whether a transgression was reported, and the quantity of information disclosed about the transgression. A main effect of alcohol is predicted, that is, intoxicated persons are predicted to report more details (regardless of transgression type), compared to sober and placebo witnesses. A main effect of transgression type is also predicted; participants are expected to disclose the bartender’s transgression at a higher rate than a transgression of their own.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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