Saul Kassin

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Saul Kassin is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.[1] and Massachusetts Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.


Saul Kassin is an American psychologist, born and raised in New York City. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa as an undergraduate from Brooklyn College in New York City. and then received his Ph.D. in personality and social psychology from the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut. With his doctoral degree he went on to begin his psychology and law research career working with Lawrence Wrightsman at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, for one year and then taught at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, for two years before starting at Williams College and ultimately moving to John Jay.

In 1984, he was awarded the U.S. Supreme Court Judicial Fellowship and worked at the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, DC. In 1985, worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University in their Psychology and Law Program. Kassin went on to author several textbooks: Psychology, Essentials of Psychology, Developmental Social Psychology, The Psychology of Evidence and Trial Procedure (with Lawrence S. Wrightsman) , and The American jury on trial: psychological perspectives. He is co-author of the textbook Social Psychology with Steven Fein and Hazel Rose Markus.[2]

Kassin is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), the Association for Psychological Science (APS), and the American Psychology-Law Society (AP-LS). Although he has published research in the social psychology of attribution theory, jury decision-making, and eyewitness testimony, Kassin is best known for his groundbreaking work on false confessions. In 2007, he received a Presidential Award from the APA for this research. In 2011, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Investigative Interviewing Research Group (iiiRG). In 2014, he received an Award for Distinguished Contribution from AP-LS. In 2017, he received an Award for Lifetime Contribution from the European Association of Psychology and the Law (EAPL). In 2017, he also received the Award for Distinguished Contribution for Research on Public Policy from the American Psychological Association (APA).[3] [4]

Kassin was the president of Division 41 of APA, a.k.a. AP-LS. He continues to teach, research, write, and lecture to judges, lawyers, law enforcement groups, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other high interest groups in the area of social psychology and the law. He has appeared as a guest analyst on all major TV networks and many syndicated news shows. He also appears in a number of podcasts, such as APA's "Speaking of Psychology: False confessions aren’t always what they seem",[5] and documentaries such as the 2012 film by Ken and Sarah Burns, The Central Park Five.

A staunch critic of the Reid technique of interrogation,[6] [7] and a vocal advocate for the requirement that all interrogations be videotaped, Kassin is best known for pioneering the scientific study of false confessions. In 1985, he and Lawrence Wrightsman proposed that there are three types of false confessions (voluntary, coerced-compliant, coerced-internalized).[8] This classification scheme is universally accepted. Kassin also created the first laboratory research methods (the most notable being the computer crash experiment,[9] used in forensic psychology to study the problems with certain types of police interrogation techniques and why innocent people confess. With other experts in the field, he wrote a 2010 White Paper called "Police-Induced Confessions: Risk Factors and Recommendations."[10]To assess the consensus of opinions within the scientific community, he and his colleagues recently published a survey of confession experts from all over the world.[11]

Over the years, Kassin has published many other articles on the subject of confessions and has introduced such terms as positive coercion bias, [12] minimization and maximization, [13]guilt-presumptive interrogation, [14] the phenomenology of innocence,[15] and the forensic confirmation bias.[16] In recent articles, he explains why judges, juries, and others tend to believe false confessions even when contradicted by DNA and other evidence.[17][18].

Kassin's work is cited all over the world, including by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Supreme Courts of Canada and Israel. He has worked on many high-profile cases and has worked with the Innocence Project to use psychology to help prevent and correct wrongful convictions. He has testified as an expert witness in state, federal, and military courts.


  1. ^ "Biography". Williams College. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
  2. ^ Kassin, S., Fein, S., & Markus, H. (2016). Social psychology (10th edition). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
  3. ^ "American Psychological Association Awards for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest".
  4. ^ Award for Distinguished Contributions to Research in Public Policy: Saul M. Kassin (2017). Citation and Biography. American Psychologist, 72, 948-950.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Kassin, S. (1997). The psychology of confession evidence. American Psychologist, 52, 221-233.
  7. ^ Starr, D. (2013). The Interview. The New Yorker, December 9, 2013.
  8. ^ Kassin, S. & Wrightsman, L. (1985). Confession evidence. In Kassin & Wrightsman (Eds.), The psychology of evidence and trial procedure. Beverly Hills: Sage.
  9. ^ Kassin, S., & Kiechel, K.(1996). The social psychology of false confessions: Compliance, internalization, and confabulation. Psychological Science, 7, 125-128)
  10. ^ Kassin, S., Drizin, S., Grisso, T., Gudjonsson, G., Leo, R., & Redlich, A. (2010). Police-induced confessions: Risk factors and recommendations. Law and Human Behavior, 34, 3-38.
  11. ^ Kassin, S., Redlich, A., Alceste, F., & Luke, T. (2018). On the general acceptance of confessions research: Opinions of the scientific community. American Psychologist, 73, 63-80.
  12. ^ Kassin, S. & Wrightsman, L. (1980). Prior confessions and mock juror verdicts. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 10, 133 146.
  13. ^ Kassin, S. & McNall, K. (1991). Police interrogations and confessions: Communicating promises and threats by pragmatic implication. Law and Human Behavior, 15, 233 251.
  14. ^ Kassin, S., Goldstein, C., & Savitsky, K. (2003). Behavioral confirmation in the interrogation room: On the dangers of presuming guilt. Law and Human Behavior, 27, 187-203.
  15. ^ Kassin, S. (2005). On the psychology of confessions: Does innocence put innocents at risk? American Psychologist, 60, 215-228.
  16. ^ Kassin, S., Dror, I., & Kukucka, J. (2013). The forensic confirmation bias: Problems, perspectives, and proposed solutions. Journal of Applied Research in Memory & Cognition, 2, 42-52.
  17. ^ Kassin, S. (2012). Why confessions trump innocence. American Psychologist, 67, 431-445.
  18. ^ Kassin, S. (2017). False confessions: How can psychology so basic be so counterintuitive? American Psychologist, 72, 951-964.

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