A recent research study has been published in the journal PNAS and it had us thinking.
The researchers found that slowing down footage of violent acts caused viewers to see greater intent to harm than when viewed at normal speed. Courts all over the world are willing to accept these recordings in evidence and they are sometimes shown in slow motion. Researchers carried out a number of experiments to determine the impact of slowing down the replay on observers.
In their first study participants, acting as jurors, watched a video recording of an attempted robbery of a store, which ended with the shop assistant being shot dead.
They were shown either a regular speed or a slowed down version.
Watching the slow-motion version quadrupled the odds that these mock jurors would begin their deliberations ready to convict.
The researchers believe that the slow motion version is giving observers the sense that those carrying out the violent acts on tape have more time to think and deliberate - and the observers therefore believe there is more intent in the violent actions.
"Slow motion can be a better version of reality, sometimes it's very helpful for seeing how actions unfolded," said lead author Eugene Caruso from the University of Chicago.
"But at the same time we found that it seems to have an effect on our perceptions of someone's inner mental states, and there it's really not so clear that slowing things down gives us a more accurate perception of what was going on in someone's mind at the time they were acting."
He and his colleagues also wanted to test what would happen if participants were shown both real time and slowed versions of the events.
Compared with mock juries that only saw the regular speed recording, the odds of a unanimous first degree murder verdict were 3.42-fold higher with juries that only saw the slow version.
Juries that saw both the slow and the regular speed version were still 1.55 times more likely to agree the first degree murder verdict than those that just saw the normal speed.
Take the case of John Lewis who was convicted of the first degree murder of a police officer in Philadelphia in 2007, during an armed robbery.
Key to the jury's decision was a slow-motion surveillance video that convinced them Mr Lewis's actions were premeditated rather than reflexive. Lewis was sentenced to death by lethal injection.
The case was appealed on the basis that the slowed down tape created a false impression of pre-meditation. But judges dismissed this as they said the jurors saw both the regular speed and slowed down versions and the slow-motion tape had a digital display of time elapsed.
Lewis remains on death row.
Other researchers agreed that the use of video and the perceptions of jurors need to be carefully studied. Yes we must use all available tools to solve crimes and bring justice to victims, but we must ensure justice is fair. If you read this article and thinke we need to look deeper then don’t stay silent please,