Posts Tagged ‘litigation support’

Courtroom Animations – Influencing Jury Perception

Monday, July 1st, 2013
      Last week we began our discussion on perception and how without visual cues individuals exposed to the same verbal information will oftentimes arrive at different conclusions as to what they just heard.   We also touched on the fact that peoples’ attention spans are extremely limited, so much so that experts studying human behavior conclude that even when the subject matter is extremely interesting to the listener, their ability to absorb information is limited to mere minutes.

      No one would argue the fact that we live in the Visual Age.   Most images are flashed at us for only a few seconds.   Our appetites for visual arousal seem never to be satiated, and venues that lack a visual component are suffering shrinking audiences.   Orchestras come to mind.   Even pop stars and professional sporting events today employ huge screens to “up” their visual content in the hopes of keeping their audiences engaged.

      This phenomenon was addressed way back in 1982, when the internet and its cornucopia of images was just a baby.   Dr. Donald E. Vinson, a leader in courtroom behavior and trial strategy, wrote in the March, 1982 edition of Trial Magazine, “Attention span and the arousal of attention are fundamental to all perception,” a sentiment which Benjamin Franklin echoed in his statement, “If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.”

      Dr. Vinson also states that, “Perceptions are constantly subject to emotional reinforcement, and those which are positively reinforced will tend to be better remembered.”   And what’s supplying these necessary emotional reinforcements?   Stimulation to the senses.  And what type of stimulation is most effective?   In Dr. Vinson’s opinion, “A moving stimulus is also more effective than a static one.”

      So will shortened modern-day attention spans result in speed trials that are equivalent to short movies?   Anything is possible, but our legal system as it stands today isn’t able to produce this just yet.

      So how is an attorney trying to impress their message upon jurors from diverse backgrounds and life experience going to succeed in getting their message across?   And what if that message is complicated and requires certain technical aptitudes?   Will verbal descriptions be enough?   Considering the fact that the average adult American reads at or below the 5th grade reading level, it is unlikely.

      Research findings discovered more than 30 years ago still hold true today.   Messages are most effectively received when employing visual cues, and the most effective visual cue is one that moves.

      There’s a good reason why my blogs seldom lack a visual component…


Courtroom Demonstratives