People with intellectual disability tend to be open to suggestions, acquiescence (confirming statements or agreeing to what is asked because they think this is expected of them) and confabulation (reporting imaginary experiences that they believe to be true) (Keilty & Connelly, 2001). In addition, research demonstrates that people with intellectual disability are more likely than others to admit to offences, including ones that they did not commit. It is common for people with an intellectual disability to be easily influenced by external factors.
There are a number of things about the legal context that increase the likelihood of acquiescence and suggestibility. Feelings of frustration can diminish the client’s selfconfidence and induce them to rely on the suggestions of others. They may also tend to agree with authority figures because they want to please or placate people in authority. This means that they are more likely than others to be influenced by the suggestions of authority figures such as police officers, judges and barristers. (For more information, see the section: ‘Acquiescence and masking’.)