/ September 23, 2009

Witnesses Believe Doctored Video Over Memory, Study Shows

A recent study in Applied Cognitive Science shows that people believed the video taped account of an event even when it differs from the reality that they witnessed. In a time when even experts have trouble telling when a video has been doctored, this could present an evidence problem.

The Study

The study put 60 participants into a gambling game making bets on correct answers to trivia questions. The player next to each participant was a researcher. Later, the participants were shown doctored video of the game making it look like the researcher had cheated. One third of the subjects were told that the person next to them may have cheated, one third were gold that the person next to them was caught on camera cheating, and one third was shown the fake footage of the other player cheating. Then, they were all asked to sign a statement only if they had seen the act of cheating taking place.


1. Five percent of those who were told about the cheating signed the statement.
2. Ten percent of those told that the cheating was caught on camera (but didn’t actually see the video) signed the statement.
3. Forty percent of those who saw the altered video signed. Plus, another ten percent signed after being asked again by the researcher.

Source: Scientific American

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