Man of Myth and Legend
Watch in slow motion to get all the details? Or just to rationalize a basis to try to believe its a good shoot?
Slow motion increases perceived intent
- aBooth School of Business, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637;
- bSchool of Management, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94117;
- cFrank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904
- Edited by Susan T. Fiske, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, and approved May 17, 2016 (received for review March 9, 2016)
When determining responsibility for harmful actions, people often consider whether the actor behaved intentionally. The spread of surveillance cameras, "on-officer" recording devices, and smart-phone video makes it increasingly likely that such judgments are aided by video replay. Yet, little is known about how different qualities of the video, such as replay speed, affect human judgment. We demonstrate that slow motion replay can systematically increase judgments of intent because it gives viewers the false impression that the actor had more time to premeditate before acting. In legal proceedings, these judgments of intent can mean the difference between life and death. Thus, any benefits of video replay should be weighed against its potentially biasing effects.
To determine the appropriate punishment for a harmful action, people must often make inferences about the transgressor's intent. In courtrooms and popular media, such inferences increasingly rely on video evidence, which is often played in "slow motion." Four experiments (n = 1,610) involving real surveillance footage from a murder or broadcast replays of violent contact in professional football demonstrate that viewing an action in slow motion, compared with regular speed, can cause viewers to perceive an action as more intentional. 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. Four additional experiments (n = 2,737) reveal that allowing viewers to see both regular speed and slow motion replay mitigates the bias, but does not eliminate it. We conclude that an empirical understanding of the effect of slow motion on mental state attribution should inform the life-or-death decisions that are currently based on tacit assumptions about the objectivity of human perception.