Thursday, September 17, 2009

Doctored Video Can Convince a Witnesses to Give False Testimony

New research shows that people who vied a doctored video, without knowing it was doctored, can be convince to give false testimony. They do not know their testimony is false as they believe what they saw in the video actually happened. This is despite the fact that they knew it was possible to alter videos and lived through the experience a short time before.

"People believe what they see, and they’re willing to punish each other for it — apparently even when what they’re seeing is a fake video that doesn’t jibe with real-life experience.

Psychologists have long known that our memories of past events can be influenced by misleading information, but now they’ve proven that doctored video evidence can convince people to offer false eyewitness testimony. In a study of 60 college students performing a computerized gambling task, nearly half were willing to testify that they saw their partner cheat in real life after watching fabricated video evidence. Of students who were told that video evidence existed but didn’t watch the footage themselves, only 10 percent gave false testimony.
In an era of easily manipulated photo and video evidence, the researchers say their findings have major implications for law enforcement officials and policy-makers, adding yet more evidence that eyewitness testimony cannot always be accepted as fact.

“We need to remember that witnesses’ memories should be treated like fingerprints, DNA, and other physical evidence — with a lot of care,” wrote Wade. “If we don’t treat them with care, then we run the risk of contamination.”

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