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Summary

Two studies explored the effects of lawyers' use of PowerPoint on liability judgments in a case involving statistical evidence. Participants (Study 1, N = 192; Study 2A, N = 180; Study 2B, N = 189) watched videotaped opening statements for plaintiffs and defendant. In general, defendant's responsibility was judged to be greater when plaintiffs used PowerPoint slides than when they did not and less when defendant used PowerPoint slides than when it did not. Furthermore, PowerPoint's impact was greatest when its use was unequal. PowerPoint enhanced persuasion partly through central and partly through peripheral processing. In general, each party's use of PowerPoint increased participants' recall of that party's evidence, which in turn increased defendant's judged responsibility (when plaintiffs used PowerPoint) or reduced it (when defendants used PowerPoint), indicative of central processing. PowerPoint also functioned as a peripheral cue, influencing participants' judgments of defendant's responsibility by affecting their perceptions of the respective attorneys. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.