How Do Animations Influence Juries?

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Animations are now a staple in courtrooms across the country. Thanks to the entertainment and video game industries pushing the technology forward, we can now create animations at a fraction of the cost that they once were. Animations are widely accepted into the courtroom by judges and (when created correctly) they are difficult to limit. So why create an animation?

The answer is simple: they engage, educate and move the jury. But if attorneys truly believed this, the use of animation would be much more prevalent than it already is. Therefore there must be some doubt to the effectiveness of animation influencing juries. This post will shed some light, using hard data, on that doubt.

Meghan Dunn, a researcher at the Federal Judicial Center, ran a study examining the persuasiveness of computer animation on juror decision making. She compared the effectiveness of animations to diagrams in mock trials. The case involved an aviation accident and the only variable throughout the experiments was the use of animation by the plaintiff, defendant, both, or neither. Here is her table of the data collected:


Ms. Dunn’s conclusion from this data was that animation can influence juries. When the data is presented in another way, this conclusion is easier to see:


The above results show that when both sides used the same method of presenting their case, both using animation or both using diagrams, juries voted in favor of the defense. This shows that naturally the case was skewed towards a defense verdict.


What is significant about the second set of data is that when the plaintiff used an animation and the defense did not, the jury’s voting drastically changed. Said in another way, the animation alone is what swayed the jury from a defense verdict to a plaintiff verdict.

With so many variables in court cases, it is hard to determine what tips the scale in favor of one side or the other. The study presented in this post shows that animation undoubtedly can play a key factor in the way a jury votes. Being prepared with an animation puts a case in a much stronger position.