True and false alibis among prisoners and their detection by police detectives

Ricardo Nieuwkamp*, Robert Horselenberg, Peter van Koppen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The present study was designed to determine whether differences exist between true and false alibis and how accurate police detectives and lay people are in determining the veracity of alibis. This article provides a replication of the research by Culhane et al. (2013) with more representative participants. In the first experiment, real suspects in a remand prison generated true or false alibis. In the second experiment, a subset of those alibis were written out and were provided to experienced police officers and students for alibi evaluation and discrimination. Our results show that differentiating between true and false alibis is difficult, and even when more representative materials and participants are included, the accuracy did not exceed 60%. Interestingly we found that students and police officers focus on other aspects during the alibi discrimination. Thus, research using student participant cannot be, directly, used in alibi discrimination studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)902-921
Number of pages20
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
Issue number6
Early online date25 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2018


  • alibis
  • police detectives
  • prison
  • students
  • true and false statements
  • veracity
  • verbal lie detection


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