“Let’s look at the tape” has become our go-to response for determining the truth of an ambiguous situation. With video recorders tracking everything from baseball games to riots, it seems natural to take a second, closer look before determining precisely what happened, and who was at fault.
However, new research suggests this process doesn’t necessarily lend itself to impartial fact-finding. On the contrary, it finds close viewing of videos often leads people to conclusions that confirm their biases.
“The more intently people look at evidence presented, the less they may see it in similar, objective ways,” concludes a research team led by New York University psychologist Emily Balcetis. Its findings are published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
The researchers describe three experiments that provide evidence for their rather disheartening assertions. The first featured 152 New York University undergraduates and community members, who began by filling out a questionnaire designed to determine the degree to which they identify with police officers.
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