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Knowing when the camera lies: Judicial instructions mitigate the camera perspective bias


Jennifer K. Elek, Research Division, National Center for State Courts, VA, USA (e-mail: at


Purpose.  Videotaped confession evidence elicits harsher evaluations against a defendant if initially recorded with the camera focused primarily on the suspect, compared with other presentation formats. Unfortunately, most videotaped confession evidence employs this biasing suspect-focus camera perspective format, leaving defendants with no recourse. The present study examined the utility of judicial instructions in mitigating the effects of the camera perspective bias on individual juror verdicts.

Methods.  Through random assignment, 156 mock jurors did or did not receive explicit instructions to correct for the camera perspective bias prior to viewing a video recording of an authentic true or false confession.

Results.  As expected, mock jurors who received instructions to correct for the camera perspective bias reported more lenient judgments of confessor guilt after viewing a suspect-focus confession recording compared to those who did not receive such instructions. However, this relative leniency emerged only in response to false, and not true, confessions.

Conclusions.  Results demonstrated that judicial instructions used in the present research mitigated the effect of camera perspective on mock-juror judgments of suspect guilt.