tests and demonstrations of limits of human observation

Ways Witnesses Err: Tests & VisualsWitness Error Tests and Demonstratives

Witness recall, judgment, memory and perception test and demonstrative videos for depositions, testimony, juries and trials

AWARENESS

tests · “look out for cyclists”

JUDGMENT

tests · circumstantial inference

MEMORY

tests · witness recall · eyewitness id

PERCEPTION

filters · gestalt · tests

Visual tests and demonstrations showing that observers and witnesses:

Test yourself and your friends. Challenge witnesses in deposition and trial. Use as demonstratives with experts. Play in openings and closings. Show jurors.

Observation & Awareness    Tests · Cyclists Spots

 

Witnesses can be unaware of people, objects, and events in a situation, despite being attentive to the situation. A witness's attentional focus affects what the witness observes. A witness might state that he or she did not see a person or object, despite that person or object having been present.

ComCon offers a number of visual resources to view, test witnesses' skills, and/or play during trial to help jurors experience directly that attentive witnesses may not be aware of the presence of people or objects in a situation.

◄ AWARENESS TESTS ►

Psychologists have developed a number of awareness tests demonstrating how easily people miss clearly presented information when observing a situation.

The effectiveness of these awareness tests hinges on viewers never before having seen the test. An aware viewer, on subsequent presentation, generally does not miss the information that viewers who have never before taken the test miss.

Try these awareness tests on yourself, test witnesses in depositions, or show them to a jury to demonstrate how even attentive witnesses can miss information.

Watch  Video The Card Test

Watch  Video The Count F Test

Watch  Video The Blink Test

Witness Awareness Test Video: Observation of Cards Witness Attentativeness Test Video: Noticing F Witness Observation Test Video: Attentional Blink

Watch  Video The Phone Answering Test

Watch  Video The Conversation Test

Watch  Video The Color Change Card Test

Witness Attentativeness Test Video: Mistaken Identity Witness Attention Test Video: Observing and Recalling a Conversation Witness Awareness Test Video: Color Change Observation

Watch  Video The Dribbling Test

Watch  Video The Cafe Observation Test

Watch  Video The Find Differences Test

Witness Attentative Test Video: Dribbling and Missing Details Witness Attention Test Video: Observing a Cafe Setting Witness Observation Test Video: Find the Differences Between Two Images Starting with Donald Duck

Now take the "Road Test." The first video shows you the situation. The second video shows you the answer. When the answer is revealed, ask yourself: Did you see it? and Did you see it the same way in slow motion?

Watch  Video The Road Test Situation

Watch  Video The Road Test Answer

Awareness Test Video: Road Test Accident Awareness Test Video: Road Test Answer

◄ “LOOK OUT FOR CYCLISTS” SPOTS ►

A public service campaign encouraging people to “look out for cyclists” ran a number of fun and interesting television spots that presented viewers with awareness tests.

Take the tests, test witnesses or show them to a jury to demonstrate that witnesses might not attend to unusual information or changes happening before their eyes.

Watch  Video Basketball

Watch  Video Chest Rotations

Watch  Video Phone Jokes

Watch  Video Who Dunnit?

Witness Focus Awareness Test Video: Basketball Passing and Missing the Gorilla Witness Focus Attention Test Video: Chest Rotations and Not Observing Race Witness Focus Awareness Test Video: Attending to Conversation and Not Observing Changes in the Office and Kitchen Witness Awareness Focus Test Video: Missing Details and Changes in a Murder Scene

Observation & Judgment   Tests · Circumstantial Inference

 

Witnesses make judgments about what they see as they observe other people behave, judgments that can be inaccurate and misleading when witnesses are unaware of circumstantial information or faced with circumstances in which judgment is difficult.

What a witness recounts he or she saw may be an inaccurate description of situations, objects, people and events.

ComCon offers a number of visual resources to view and play during deposition and trial to test witnesses, and to help jurors understand that well-meaning witnesses may (a) lack the ability to judge accurately or (b) lack circumstantial information and so judge incorrectly and recount inaccurately.

◄ JUDGMENT TESTS ►

Psychologists have developed tests of how well people are able to make judgments of the physical qualities of what they observe. Height, length, size and color are common physical qualities witnesses report. Test yourself, challenge witnesses, and show juries.

Watch  Video Circumference vs. Height Test

Watch  Video Building Length Test

Watch  Video Line Length Test

Witness Judgment Test Video: Difficulty Judging Circumference vs. Height Witness Judgment Test Video: Inaccurate Estimate of Building Length Witness Judgment Test Video: Incorrect Judgment of Line Length

Watch  Video Car Size Test

Watch  Video Mug Size Test

Watch  Video Alignment Test

Witness Judgment Test Video: Difficulty Judging Car Sizes Witness Judgment Test Video: Inaccurate Judgment of Mug Size Witness Judgment Test Video: Incorrect Judgment of Line Alignment

Watch  Video Color Shade Test

Watch  Video Checkerboard Shadow Test

Watch  Video Dot Background Test

Witness Judgment Test Video: Seeing Identical Color Shades as Different Colors Witness Judgment Test Video: Shadows on a Checkerboard Alter Perception of Color Witness Judgment Test Video: Color of Backgrund Changes Perception of Color of Dots on the Background

Watch  Video Circle in Light Test

Watch  Video Dog Color Context Test

Witness Judgment Test Video: Circle in Background Light Changes Color Witness Judgment Test Video: Dog Changes Color Based on Background Color Context

◄ CIRCUMSTANTIAL INFERENCE ►

Witnesses lacking circumstantial information can make judgment errors about what they believe they observed. Ameriquest produced numerous and amusing commercials with the slogan “Don't Judge Too Quickly” that demonstrate judgment errors when observers lack circumstantial information when observing other people's behavior.

Watch  Video The Girls

Watch  Video The Brownie

Watch  Video The Hospital

Jury Circumstantial Inference Demonstrative: Ameriquest Video Commercial - The Girls Look to Be Prostitutes - Don't Judge Too Quickly Jury Circumstantial Inference Demonstrative: Ameriquest Video Commercial - The Brownie Looks to Be Dog Poop - Don't Judge Too Quickly Jury Circumstantial Inference Demonstrative: Ameriquest Video Commercial - The Hospital Looks to Be Killing Patients - Don't Judge Too Quickly

Watch  Video The Parking Meter

Watch  Video The Romantic Dinner

Watch  Video The Plane Ride

Jury Circumstantial Inference Demonstrative: Ameriquest Video Commercial - The Parking Meter Needs Change and Man Appears to Have Been in Porn Store - Don't Judge Too Quickly Jury Circumstantial Inference Demonstrative: Ameriquest Video Commerial - The Romantic Dinner Appears To Be A Murder or Killing of a Cat Slashed By a Knife - Don't Judge Too Quickly Jury Circumstantial Inference Demonstrative: Ameriquest Video Commercial - Plan Ride Appears to Be Intimate - Don't Judge Too Quickly

Watch  Video The School Bus

Watch  Video The Breakfast

Watch  Video The Market

Jury Circumstantial Inference Demonstrative: Ameriquest Video Commercial - The Man With a High School T-Shirt Appears to Be Flashing a School Bus - Don't Judge Too Quickly Jury Circumstantial Inference Demonstrative: Ameriquest Video Commercial - The Wife Helping Her Mom Appears To Be Smothering Her Mother - Don't Judge Too Quickly Jury Circumstantial Inference Demonstrative: Ameriquest Video Commercial - The Customer Coming Into a Store Appears to Be Robbing The Store - Don't Judge Too Quickly

Ameriquest's ‘Don't Judge Too Quickly’ commercials struck a chord, and other companies and independent individuals produced related spots focusing on the judgment errors that occur when observers lack circumstantial information. The takeoff spots are more serious and risque. Be advised that some of these spots might be offensive to some viewers, and so are organized here from least to most risque.

Watch  Video The Implant

Watch  Video The Deodorant

Watch  Video The Bathroom

Watch  Video The Office

Circumstantial Inference Demonstrative Video: The Asian Son Seems To Be Mistreating His Elderly Mother - Don't Judge Too Quickly - Ameriquest Commercial Take-off Circumstantial Inference Demonstrative Video: The Body Part Seems Not to Be an Underarm - Don't Judge Too Quickly - Ameriquest Commercial Take-off Circumstantial Inference Demonstrative Video: The Heimlich Maneuver Seems To Be Sex in a Bathroom - Don't Judge Too Quickly - Ameriquest Commercial Take-off Circumstantial Inference Demonstrative Video: The Thumb Slammed in a Cabinet Drawer Seems to Be Masturbation - Don't Judge Too Quickly - Ameriquest Commercial Take-off

 Learn more about Judgment 

Watch  Video Color Misperception

Watch  Video Hearing Misperception

Video About Color Misperception Video about Hearing Misperception

Observation & Memory    Tests · Recall · Eyewitness ID

 

Memory does not work like a digital recorder or a computer. Memory is pliable, suggestible, associative, forgetful and fallible.

ComCon offers a number of visual resources to view and play during trial to help jurors understand that witnesses' memories may not be accurate.

◄ MEMORY TESTS ►

Psychologists have developed a number of memory tests demonstrating how difficult it is for people to remember details accurately, and how easy it is to recall them inaccurately.

Try these memory tests on yourself, and show them to a jury, to demonstrate how even motivated witnesses can fail to recall information at all, as well as to recall information inaccurately with certainty.

Watch  Video The Flowers Test

Watch  Video The Images Test

Watch  Video The Mystery Test

Watch  Video The Words Test

Witness Memory Test Video: Flower Color and Arrangement Witness Memory Test Video: Recall of Quickly Flashed Images Witness Recall Demonstrative Video: It Can't Be Remembered If It Isn't Noticed Witness Memory Test Video: Poorly Remembering and Misremembering Words

◄ WITNESS RECALL ►

Witness memories are malleable and shaped by the questions they are asked about what they observed.

The following videos demonstrate and discuss how the questions asked influence both the answers provided by witnesses and how those answers are understood.

Watch  Video Question Phrasing: Car Accident

Watch  Video Memory Distortion: Loftus/Wells Research

Watch  Video Don't Talk To Police: Lecture Test

Witness Recall Distorted By Question Phrasing Video: Smashed, Bumped, Hit, Loftus Car Accident Demonstration Lecture Video of Dr. Elizabeth Loftus and Dr. Gary Wells Discussing Memory and Recall Distortions James Duane Video Lecture at Law School About Not Talking To Cops

 Learn more about Witness Recall   

Watch  Video How Witness Memory Works: Research

Read  Persuasive Question Asking  pdf

Explore  Witness Research webpage

Explore  Strategies for Witnesses webpage

Video Lecture on How Memory Works and its accuracy for witnesses of crimes and accidents

◄ EYEWITNESS IDENTIFICATION ►

Eyewitness identification of criminal suspects relies on memory, the very memory that is pliable, suggestible, associative, forgetful and fallible.

The Wells Crime

Dr. Gary Wells studies eyewitness memory by presenting videotaped "crimes" to "witnesses" and then asks these witnesses to identify the suspects in lineups. The first video shows one of Dr. Wells' "crimes" and its associated "lineup", and the second video reveals the actual suspect.

Take the test, or show the test to a jury, to demonstrate how even attentive witnesses can identify an innocent person.

Watch  Video Crime and Lineup Test

Watch  Video Actual Suspect

Eyewitness Identification Video: Dr. Well's Staged Crime and Lineup EyeWitness Identification Video: Dr. Well's Actual Suspect Revealed

The BBC Crime

The BBC took a group of people to lunch and made them witnesses to a murder staged live by actors. The first video shows the enacted murder, the second video shows the lineup, and the third video reveals the identity of the murderer.

Take the test, or show the test to a jury, to demonstrate the difficulty of doing a witness identification.

Watch  Video The Murder

Watch  Video The Lineup

Watch  Video The Murderer Revealed

Eyewitness Identification Video: The BBC Staged Murder Eyewitness Identification Video: The BBC Lineup Eyewitness Identification Video: The BBC Murderer Revealed

Observation & Perception    Filters · Gestalt · Logo Tests

 

Whenever people observe anything, they must process what they see. People do not process identically what they see. Two people can look at the same object and “see” opposing things. Many people can look at the same object and “see” what isn't real.

ComCon offers a number of resources to show during trial to help jurors understand that a witnesses' perceptions can differ from each other, and from reality.

◄ FILTERED REALITY ►

People believe their own eyes. Further, people believe that what they see is determined solely by the world outside of themselves, and that anyone else looking at the same object would see fundamentally the same thing.

In reality, what people “see” is determined by who they are, what they focus on, and what they expect to see.

Take these tests, and show them to a jury, to demonstrate that witnesses can be mistaken and need not be lying when they disagree or misperceive.

Which way is the dancer spinning?

Do you see the dancer spinning clockwise or counter-clockwise?

If you look at the left image, all 3 dancers will rotate clockwise. If you look at the right image, all 3 dancers will rotate counter-clockwise.

Read  The Spinning Dancer & Humility  External Site

Spinning dancer

Do you see the room as it is, or as you expect rooms to be?

Are the girls vastly different in size, or is the room of different proportions?

People see what they expect to see, rather than the world as it is. Our memories guide, and distort, what we see.

Watch  Video The Room

Visual Perception Video: Misperceiving a Room and Heights and Sizes

What object is on the table in front of the girl?

What are your observations, and what are your inferences?

People have difficulty separating what they see versus what they think they see.

Watch  Video The Object

Visual Perception Demonstrative: Misperceiving a Candle

Who is angry and who is calm?

Are you at your computer, or 8 feet away?

The farther you are away, the more "blur" there is in what you see. With increasing blur, the emotional expressions change.

Watch  Video Angry and Calm

Visual Perception Demonstrative: Misperceiving Facial Expressions

How do you describe the faces?

Are you disturbed by the faces?

Decoding of facial expressions works best in the orientation where faces are seen most of the time -- namely, upright.

Watch  Video The Thatcher Effect Explained

Watch  Video Original Thatcher Demonstration

Visual Perception video: Misperceiving upside down face Visual Perception video: Misperceiving Thatcher upside down face

◄ GESTALT ORGANIZATION ►

People organize what they look at into a meaningful "whole", a "take" that gives meaning to what people are observing.

When a situation is ambiguous, people can easily differ in their perception of the situation. An identical object can be understood as a pedestal or two people, an old woman or a young lady, a young lady or a sax player, two people or one person, or a duck or a rabbit. Some people are able to alter their "take" while others struggle to do so.

Witness Visual Perception Demonstrative: Is the picture of two people's faces or a candlestick holder  Witness Visual Perception Demonstrative: Is the picture of an old woman or a young lady  Witness Visual Perception Demonstrative: Is the picture of a young lady or a sax player  Witness Visual Perception Demonstrative: Is the picture of two people or one person  Witness Visual Perception Demonstrative: Is the picture of a duck or a rabbit

When a situation contains conflicting information, people can misperceive the situation. Identical center-circles appear differently sized, horizontal parallel lines are perceived as sloping, and nonexistent black dots are seen in linear crosshairs.

Jury Visual Perception Demonstrative: Estimate of circle size depends on the size of things around itJury Visual Perception Demonstrative: Horizontal parallel lines are perceived as slopingJury Visual Perception Demonstrative: Nonexistent black dots are seen in linear crosshairs

When a situation closely fits expectations, people can gloss over discrepancies. What is expected is what is seen, not what is actually present in the situation.

Jury Visual Perception Demonstrative: What is expected is what is seen, not what is actually present in the situation

◄ BUSINESS LOGO TESTS ►

Try these tests of business logos, which are based on the principles of perception discussed in the Visual Resources on this webpage.

What do you see in each logo? Study each logo, and then read the answer.

These tests are quick, and can be shown to a jury or used with witnesses to demonstrate limits to observation and judgment, awareness, memory and perception.

What do you see in the TOSTITOS logo?

If you look at the center of this logo, you can see two people enjoying a Tostitos chip with a bowl of salsa. This logo conveys an idea of people connecting with each other.

Tostitos Logo

What do you see in the FORMULA 1 logo?

At first, this logo might not make much sense. But if you look closely, you'll see the number 1 in the space between the F and the red stripes. I also love how this logo communicates a feeling of speed.

Formula 1 Logo

What do you see in the MILWAUKEE BREWERS logo?

The Milwaukee Brewers logo is made up of the letters M (on top) and B (below the m). The M and B form the baseball glove.

Milwaukee Brewers Logo

What do you see in the NORTHWEST AIRLINES logo?

This simple looking logo actually carries a lot of information. You can see the letters N and W, the first two letters of the brand name. What most people don't see is the compass that points to the Northwest.

Northwest Airlines Logo

What do you see in the TOBLERONE logo?

Toblerone is a chocolate-company from Bern, Switzerland. Bern is sometimes called "The City Of Bears", which has been incorporated into the logo. If you look closely, you'll see the silhouette of a bear.

Toberone Logo

What do you see in the BASKIN ROBBINS logo?

The old logo of Baskin Robbins had the number 31 with an arc above it to reference its 31 flavors. The pink parts of the new logo retain the 31 flavors slogan while helping form part of the company's initials.

Baskin Robbins Logo

What do you see in the FEDEX logo?

Do you see an arrow in the FedEx logo? If you need help in finding the arrow, roll your mouse over the logo.

Fedex Logo

Additional Resources

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