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Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Intel honors three Kennedy seniors
(Page 2 of 5)
Scott Brinton/Herald Life
Three Kennedy seniors were named Intel Science Talent Search semifinalists on Wednesday. Joined by their research mentor, Barbi Frank, at left, they were, from left, Rachel Abramowitz, Ben November and Rebecca Jellinek.
For her senior research thesis, Abramowitz, 17, of Merrick, studied false confessions with Dr. Saul Kassin, a psychology professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City and Williams College in Williamstown, Mass.

“Legal scholars have for years assumed that the confession is the gold standard of evidence,” Kassin said in an interview for the Vera Institute of Justice, “and when you had a confession, you had some certainty of conviction."

Confessions, however, can be unreliable, in part because innocent people who are interrogated by police often falsely confess simply because they are too mentally or physically exhausted to continue answering questions.

Abramowitz published this and other key findings in her research paper, “Why Innocent People Comply with Police Requests: The Role of Just World Beliefs and Public Self-Consciousness.” In addition to Intel, the paper earned her semifinalist accolades at the recent Long Island Psychology Fair.

And Abramowitz submitted it to the American Psychology Law Society. The society, to Abramowitz’s surprise and delight, accepted her paper and invited her to speak at its next conference in New Orleans, March 6-8. She will be the society’s youngest presenter ever.
For Abramowitz, presenting her paper to a professional society will be a dream come true. “When I realized I had an impact on the scientific world,” she said, “I knew I was a scientist.”

In an earlier interview, Frank said she was thrilled for Abramowitz. “She was really able to create her own project and go all the way with it,” Frank said.

Abramowitz is a member of the national, science and Spanish honor societies. She plans to study psychology in college.

Rebecca Jellinek

The Barbie doll, long lambasted as a caricature of the modern woman — impossibly thin, vacuous, at times scantily dressed — may be good for girls’ diets.

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