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Slow Motion Bias

August 30, 2017

Slow motion videos of violent encounters bias our interpretation of the events.



Slow motion bias. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Viewing a violent interaction in slow motion makes us more likely to conclude that it was intentional, according to University of Chicago behavioral scientist Eugene Caruso and his collegues reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And from fouls in sports to murder trials, intent plays a big role in how we punish people.

EUGENE CARUSO (University of Chicago):

So a first degree murder is one that is performed with a premeditated intent to kill, and in some states, that would carry the death penalty, whereas a second degree murder may entail a sentence of life in jail.


In the study, volunteers who viewed videos of violent sports and criminal interactions in slow motion, rather than at normal speed, were more likely to say the actions were intentional. With video evidence becoming increasingly common, Caruso says it’s important to recognize this bias on both playing fields and in courtrooms. Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.