Researchers at the University of Warwick have revealed that false video evidence can dramatically change people's perceptions of events, and even convince them of testifying as an eyewitness to an event that never happened.
Associate Professor Dr. Kimberley Wade, from the Department of Psychology, led an experiment to see whether exposure to fabricated footage of an event could induce individuals to accuse another person of doing something they never did.
The researchers found that almost 50 percent of people, who were shown fake footage of an event they witnessed first hand, were ready to believe the video version rather than what they actually saw.
The team filmed 60 subjects as they took part in a computerised gambling task.
The subjects were unknowingly seated next to a member of the research team as they both separately answered a series of multiple-choice general knowledge questions.
One third of the subjects were told that the person sat next to them was suspected of cheating.
Another third were told the person had been caught on camera cheating, and the remaining group were actually shown the fake video footage.
Later, all subjects were asked to sign a statement only if they had seen the cheating take place.
Nearly 40 percent of the participants who had seen the doctored video complied.
Another 10 percent of the group signed when asked a second time by the researchers.
Only 10 percent of those who were told the incident had been caught on film but were not shown the video agreed to sign, and about 5 percent of the control group who were just told about the cheating signed the statement.
"Over the previous decade we have seen rapid advances in digital-manipulation technology. As a result, almost anyone can create convincing, yet fake, images or video footage. Our research shows that if fake footage is extremely compelling, it can induce people to testify about something they never witnessed," said Wade.
The study has been published in Applied Cognitive Psychology.