Forensic Multimedia

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Influence of vehicle model and colour over legal judgements:

Summary: Social psychological influences, for example, stereotypes, can have a profound influence over judgements made within a legal context. This study examined how the manipulation of vehicle make (either a Range Rover Sport SUV or a Volswagen Touran MPV) and colour (red or beige) would inluence people's perceptions of speed and culpability when preseted as a computer generated animation. Some differences between vehicle make were recorded, mostly that the Range Rover was judged to be the most culpable for the accident overall. There were no significant speed differences. Colour only had a small impact on judgements. However, when the animations were presented in black and white, no differences emerged between the two vehicles.
It is possible that the colour of a vehicle can multiply the likelihood of it being judged as more responsible, perhaps due to the stereotypes associated with the drivers of these cars. The practical implications of this study suggest that great care should be taken when using animation evidence in court to ensure that the correct vehicle make and colour has been established, for example, in the case of a 'hit and run' incident, as perceptions of culpability can be impacted by these factors.
Suggested citation: Norris, G., and Reeves, H. (Under review). The influence of vehicle model on perceptions of culpability and speed in a computer animated road traffic accident. International Review of Law, Computers and Technology.

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