SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 1: Stokoe, E., & Edwards, D. (2008). “Did you have permission to smash your neighbour’s door?” Silly questions and their answers in police-suspect interrogations. Discourse Studies, 10(1), 89-111. doi:10.1177/1461445607085592

Abstract: We examine the asking and answering of ‘silly questions’ (SQs) (for example, ‘might sound a bit silly, but do you know whose window it is?’) in British police interviews with suspects, the courses of action SQs initiate, and the institutional contingencies they are designed to manage. We show how SQs are asked at an important juncture toward the ends of interviews, following police officers’ formulations of suspects’ testimony (e.g. ‘so you’ve admitted throwing eggs’). These formulations are confirmed or even collaboratively produced by suspects. We then examine the design of SQs and show how they play a central role in the articulation of suspects’ reported ‘state of mind’, and particularly attributing to them criminal intentions constitutive of the offence with which they may be charged. In cases where SQs do not produce unambiguous answers about ‘state of mind’ or intentionality, police officers move toward direct questioning about suspects’ intent, thus making explicit the project of SQs in such interviews. Following SQ—Answer sequences, police officers reformulate suspects’ testimony, with subtle but crucial differences with regard to suspects’ knowledge state and criminal intent. Suspects overwhelmingly align with police officers’ formulations of their testimony, and such agreements have the interactional shape of affiliation. Yet SQs may work in ways that are institutionally adversarial with regard to criminal charges, relevant evidence and self-incriminating testimony.


Journal Article 2: Ask, K., & Pina, A. (2011). On being angry and punitive: How anger alters perception of criminal intent. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2(5), 494-499. doi:10.1177/1948550611398415

Abstract: Previous research has demonstrated that anger increases the tendency to blame and punish others for harmful behaviors. This study investigated whether such attributions extend to judgments of criminal intent, and it examined the mechanisms by which anger influences punitiveness. In an experiment, angry, sad, and neutral participants read about an ambiguously criminal behavior. As hypothesized, angry participants judged the behavior as being more intentional and the perpetrator as having more causal control than did neutral participants, and they were more willing to punish the wrongdoer. Sadness did not have a demonstrable effect on judgments, indicating a specific role of anger rather than a general negative affect. Moreover, the effect of anger on punitiveness was mediated by perceived criminal intent but not by perceived causal control. Implications for legal judgments and theories of blame attribution are discussed.