can be in any of the following contexts:
- informally in everyday life
When there is insufficient supporting evidence to determine whether an accusation is true or false, it is described as "unsubstantiated" or "unfounded". Accusations that are determined to be false based on corroborating evidence can be divided into three categories:
- An allegation that is completely false in that the events that were alleged did not occur;
- An allegation that describes events that did occur, but were perpetrated by an individual who is not accused, and in which the accused person is innocent.
- An allegation that is partially true and partially false, in that it mixes descriptions of events that actually happened with other events that did not occur.
A false allegation can occur as the result of intentional lying on the part of the accuser; or unintentionally, due to a confabulation
Confabulation is the process in which a memory is remembered falsely. Confabulations are indicative of a complicated and intricate process that can be led astray at any given point during encoding, storage, or recall of a memory. Two distinct types of confabulation are often distinguished...
, either arising spontaneously due to mental illness
A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with subjective distress or disability that occurs in an individual, and which is not a part of normal development or culture. Such a disorder may consist of a combination of affective, behavioural,...
or resulting from deliberate or accidental suggestive questioning, or faulty interviewing techniques. Researchers Poole and Lindsay suggested in 1997 applying separate labels to the two concepts, proposing the term "false allegations" be used specifically when the accuser is aware they are lying, and "false suspicions" (weasel word phrase; dissimulation) for the wider range of false accusations in which suggestive questioning may have been involved.
The statistics on false accusations of rape vary widely, from 2% (a figure that has frequently been cited) to Eugene Kanin's (1994) figure of 41%, which derived from a case study of a police agency in a metropolitan city in the Midwest. John Bancroft states that a search of the literature on false rape reports reveals that Kanin's figure of 41% false rape reports is regarded as unusually high. FBI statistics for the annual rate of false reporting of forcible assault across the country have been a consistent 8%. A study from the UK found that of the approximately 14,500 cases of rape reported in 2005/2006 9% were classified as false allegations.
A false allegation of child sexual abuse is an accusation that a person committed one or more acts of child sexual abuse
Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation. Forms of child sexual abuse include asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities , indecent exposure with intent to gratify their own sexual desires or to...
when in reality there was no perpetration of abuse by the accused person as alleged. Such accusations can be brought by the victim, or by another person on the alleged victim's behalf. Studies of child abuse allegations suggest that the overall rate of false accusation is under 10%, as approximated based on multiple studies. Of the allegations determined to be false, only a small portion originated with the child, the studies showed; most false allegations originated with an adult bringing the accusations on behalf of a child, and of those, a large majority occurred in the context of divorce
Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties...
and child-custody battles.
Research by the Workplace Bullying Institute, suggests that "falsely accused someone of 'errors' not actually made" is the most common of all bullying tactics experienced, in 71 percent of cases.
In 1999, Pathe, Mullen and Purcell wrote that popular interest in stalking was promoting false claims. In 2004, Sheridan and Blaauw said that they estimated that 11.5% of claims in a sample of 357 reported claims of stalking were false.
Many cyberstalkers try to damage the reputation of their victim and turn other people against them. They post false information about them on websites. They may set up their own websites, blogs or user pages for this purpose. They post allegations about the victim to newsgroups, chat rooms or other sites that allow public contributions, such as Wikipedia or Amazon.com.
Rage by a narcissist is directed towards the person that they feel has slighted them. This rage impairs their cognition
Cognitive distortions are exaggerated and irrational thoughts identified in cognitive therapy and its variants, which in theory perpetuate certain psychological disorders. The theory of cognitive distortions was first proposed by Aaron T. Beck. Eliminating these distortions and negative thoughts is...
, therefore impairing their judgment
A judgment , in a legal context, is synonymous with the formal decision made by a court following a lawsuit. At the same time the court may also make a range of court orders, such as imposing a sentence upon a guilty defendant in a criminal matter, or providing a remedy for the plaintiff in a civil...
. During the rage they are prone to shouting, fact distortion and making groundless accusations.
Psychological projection can be established as a means of obtaining or justifying certain actions that would normally be found atrocious or heinous. This often means projecting false accusations, information, etc., onto an individual for the sole purpose of maintaining a self-created illusion.