Stephanie Madon

Associate Professor of Psychology

Iowa State University


Mailing Address:


W112 Lagomarcino Hall, Psychology Department, Iowa State University

Ames, IA  50011





Iowa State University Professors, Stephanie Madon and Max Guyll, found that stress levels

are a factor in false confessions. 


Click HERE for

the story.




        Photo by Bob Elbert




(515) 294-2932



Click HERE


Teaching Interests:


Psychology and Law (Psych 383)

Graduate Seminar in Psychology and Law (Psych 595E)

Social Cognition (Psych 380)



To access assigned

readings, click



Research Interests:

My current program of research focuses on criminal confessions. A confession is among the most incriminating forms of evidence in criminal law.  Psychological research using controlled laboratory procedures reveals that innocent suspects sometimes confess to crimes they did not commit. Recent DNA exoneration cases corroborate these empirical findings.  Of the several hundred wrongful convictions that have surfaced thus far, approximately 25% involved a false confession or false admission of guilt.  My research examines the underlying psychological, cognitive, and physiological processes that lead suspects to confess to criminal behavior.   My work emphasizes the role of physiology as a cause and consequence of confession as well as the idea that police interrogation narrows suspects’ attentional focus to the here and now, thereby causing them to make decisions regarding a confession more on the basis of proximal consequences (e.g., isolation, promises of leniency, lengthy questioning) than future consequences (e.g., conviction, imprisonment). 


Iowa State Undergraduates who are interested in becoming involved in my research on confessions, should contact me at I am looking for several for Fall 2013!


I also have interests in self-fulfilling prophecies which are false beliefs that lead to their own fulfillment.  Within this content area, I have examined the link between self-fulfilling prophecies and social problems.


 I run a joint lab with Dr. Max Guyll who is a also a faculty member in the social area at Iowa State University. Click HERE to go to Max Guyll’s homepage.


Undergraduate Research Assistants:

Undergraduate students interested in joining my research lab as a research assistant should contact  me ( or Yueran Yang (  Undergraduate students in my lab are primarily involved in the running of experiments.  Students are encouraged to collaborate on poster presentations at regional and national psychology conferences. Sophomores, juniors, seniors, and freshman honor students may enroll assuming that they meet departmental requirements.



Graduate Students:

Students applying to the doctoral program in social psychology at Iowa State University who wish to work with me should have research interests in criminal confessions.  My expectations for graduate students are that they commit themselves to research with the goal of obtaining an academic position at a research-oriented university.  Graduate students in my lab coordinate lab activities (e.g., lab meetings, lab schedules, experimental signups, etc.), contribute heavily to all on-going research projects, manage and organize the involvement of undergraduate research assistants, and are authors on publications and conference presentations.  Graduate students are also encouraged to develop their own research studies in the area of psychology and law.



Graduate Students:

I currently have two social psychology graduate students: Yueran Yang and Laura Smalarz.   Yueran Yang’s and Laura Smalarz’s research focus on criminal confessions.  Laura Smalarz also has interests in eye witness identification.  Former students include Jennifer Willard (Associate Professor at Kennesaw State University, Psychology Department) and Kyle Scherr (Assistant Professor at Central Michigan University, Psychology Department).


The Social Psychology Graduate Program at Iowa State:

The social psychology program at ISU is highly competitive. Our students high GRE scores and strong records of academic achievement in college, with GPA's of 3.6 and above. Most of our Ph.D. students acquired extensive research experience at their undergraduate institutions prior to coming to Iowa State University. Students who graduate from our doctoral program are qualified to work at colleges and universities conducting research and teaching at the graduate and undergraduate level. Almost all of our graduates have been successful in obtaining academic jobs. A Ph.D. in social psychology also qualifies one for more applied work (e.g., market research), although we do not specifically train students for such positions.

My Graduate Advisor:

Dr. Lee Jussim (Rutgers University). Click HERE for his homepage.


 Professional Genealogy






William James

G. Stanley  Hall

Lewis Terman

Bernard Weiner

Jacquelynne Eccles

Lee Jussim

Stephanie Madon