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Research News - Video

Videotaped interrogations: A matter of perspective

What if there were one simple trick to presenting a police interrogation video that would make people more likely to believe a confession was voluntary or coerced? Research by Ohio University psychology professor G. Daniel Lassiter indicates that one actually exists. When the camera is focused on a suspect--the interrogator either is nowhere in sight or only his back is visible--viewers are more likely to believe that any self-incriminating statement is voluntary. That perception persists even if the interrogator coerces or threatens the suspect. But take the simple step of moving the camera--positioning it so that both the interrogator and suspect can be seen in profile--and the exact same interview can leave viewers with a much different impression. Using that alternate camera angle can eliminate the sort of bias that can lead to wrongful convictions. Lassiter provided NSF with more insight into his work.

Credit: NSF

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