The value of visuals in trial work is well established, in that images emphasize and clarify testimony or evidence. However, researchshows that visuals have impact in yet another way, which can be put to powerful use in the courtroom. 

Scientists in New Zealand and Canada examined what satirist Stephen Colbert calls “truthiness” – the feeling that something is true. What they discovered is that when a statement, whether true or not, is accompanied by a simply decorative photograph [i.e., one that does not reveal the validity of the claim], it is more likely to be perceived as true. People simply “feel” that the statement is more likely to be true, by virtue of the accompanying visual.

So the statement “The liquid metal inside a thermometer is magnesium” accompanied by a picture of a thermometer (which revealed nothing about the metal inside), was believed to be true far more often than the same statement not accompanied by a decorative photograph.

What does this mean for you? That even when you don’t have a visual or graphic that directly elucidates testimony/evidence you are confident is credible, it’s worth attaching a visual that in some way relates to the testimony/evidence. You thus have greater chances of engaging jurors’ feeling that the testimony is truthful, as you know it to be.

Once again, the mighty power of visuals is revealed!