Slow-motion Court Replays Make Crime Look Worse

By Gary Cutlack on at

Researchers looking into the use of slow-motion replays of violent crimes caught on CCTV say the practise may be making the crimes appear worse than they really were, thanks to the way slow-motion clips appear to drag out the attack and let viewers see more intent than may have been there in the first place.

According to data published in Pnas, the rise in the use of CCTV footage, smartphone clips and on-body cameras worn by police could be warping the perception of intent in the crimes they record, especially when played back in slow-motion. As that tricks our stupid brains into thinking the attacker took more time to think about his or her kicks, punches, stabs and whatnot.

The report explains: "This slow motion intentionality bias occurred, in part, because slow motion video caused participants to feel like the actor had more time to act, even when they knew how much clock time had actually elapsed."

The writers warn that "these judgments of intent can mean the difference between life and death" in criminal cases, so the use of slow-mo attack clips ought to be carefully considered. [BBC]

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