A little knowledge is a dangerous thing...emerging Miranda research and professional roles for psychologists

Am Psychol. 2008 Nov;63(8):776-87. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.63.8.776.


In Miranda v. Arizona (1966), the 20th century's most prominent and consequential legal decision on constitutionally guaranteed rights against compelled self-incrimination, the Supreme Court of the United States mandated the delivery of specific warnings to persons facing custodial interrogation. Owing in large part to popularization of these warnings by the entertainment media, many citizens can recite at least some of their Miranda rights in rote fashion; however, recent and emerging research provides compelling evidence of persistent Miranda misconceptions and fallacies among criminal suspects and the lay public. The effects of these misunderstandings are profound. Conservatively, an estimated 318,000 suspects waive their rights annually while failing to comprehend even 50% of representative Miranda warnings. Two major issues, oral advisements and juvenile warnings, are examined in relationship to Miranda comprehension. Professional roles for psychologists are explored for Miranda issues that incorporate education, community consultation, forensic practice, and applied research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Civil Rights / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Comprehension
  • Crime / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Educational Status
  • Humans
  • Prisoners / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Prisoners / psychology
  • Professional Role / psychology*
  • Psychology, Applied*
  • Reading
  • United States