Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Tables
 Biographical sketch

Group Title: effects of courtroom cameras on verbal behavior
Title: The effects of courtroom cameras on verbal behavior
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00098276/00001
 Material Information
Title: The effects of courtroom cameras on verbal behavior an analysis of simulated trial witness testimony in courtrooms using television cameras
Alternate Title: Courtroom cameras on verbal behavior, The effects of
Physical Description: x, 143 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Shores, Donald Lewis, 1952-
Publication Date: 1981
Copyright Date: 1981
Subject: Video tapes in courtroom proceedings   ( lcsh )
Conduct of court proceedings   ( lcsh )
Witnesses   ( lcsh )
Speech thesis Ph. D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Speech -- UF   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1981.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 137-142.
Statement of Responsibility: by Donald Lewis Shores, Jr.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00098276
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000295838
oclc - 07969016
notis - ABS2190


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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
    List of Tables
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    Biographical sketch
        Page 143
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        Page 145
Full Text






Copyright 1981


Donald Lewis Shores, Jr.


Many individuals contributed to the research recorded

in this volume. First and foremost, recognition should

be accorded my wife, Kathy, and my two daughters, April

and Robyn, for waiting patiently and constantly encourag-

ing me in the completion of this study.

For almost 30 years my parents have encouraged me,

believed in me, and supported me in more ways than they

know. Without their help and training this volume would

not exist.

One person who has probably thought and done more than

anyone to aid me in clearly expressing ideas has been Dr.

Donald E. Williams. As chairman of my supervisory com-

mittee, Dr. Williams spent countless hours reading, editing,

discussing, and encouraging in the development of this re-

search. To him I am deeply grateful and indebted.

To each member of the supervisory committee, Dr. Thomas

B. Abbott, Dr. Anthony J. Clark, Dr. Harry H. Griggs, and

Dr. Andrew J. Rosalsky, I extend my gratitude for shuffling

schedules, offering advice, and reading manuscripts in an

effort to make this endeavor as beneficial yet painless as


The following persons are but a few of the many who

cooperated to make this study possible: Circuit Judge

Theron Yawn and Court Executive Assistant Ben North

approved the use of courtrooms for the experimental phase

of the project; John Thorne and Barbara Belue from the

University of Florida Institute for Food and Agriculture

Sciences provided the edited videotape of the simulated

robbery; Joe Davis devoted three full days without

remuneration to serve as the attorney in the courtroom;

Katy Paschall and Don and Debby Nickens volunteered numerous

hours as research assistants; Don and Fran Cruse provided

computer programming guidance above and beyond the call of

duty; and five men, Milton Craven, Fred Roma, Don Hall,

George Sternfels, and Nick Rupus, volunteered their time

and abilities to role-play the presiding judge during the

experiment. To all of the above I offer my thanks for

jobs well done.

I dedicate this volume to two people who inspired me

from my earliest remembrances to work hard, do my best,

and to love and trust God, my grandparents, Carl and Cecil



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . .. . .

LIST OF TABLES . . . . . . . .

ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . ....


I INTRODUCTION. . . . . . .

Purpose. .





Background of the

Current Controversy . . .
Review of Relevant Literature.

Witness Testimony . . .
Effects of Videotaping on
Speech Students. . . .
Communication Apprehension
and Verbal Behavior . .

Rationale for This Study . .
Research Hypotheses. . . .
Notes. . . . . . .

II METHODOLOGY . . . . . .

The Laboratory Versus Field

Setting . . . . . . .
Experimental Controls. . . .
Subjects Used in This
Study . . . . . . .
Procedure. . . . . . .
Analysis of Results. . . . .
Notes. . . . . . . .

. 17

S. 30

. 34

S. 42


III RESULTS . . . . . . . .

Self-Report Findings . . . .

Pre-Experimental Questionnaire.
Post-Experimental Questionnaire

Dependent Measures . . . . .
Hypotheses Test Results. . . .
Summary. . . . . . . .

IV CONCLUSIONS . . . . . . .

Limitations of the Study . . .
Implications for Future Research


REFERENCES . . . . . . . . .




1 Camera and No-Camera Group Mean Scores
for the Independent Variables Communi-
cation Apprehension (CA) and Vocabu-
lary Proficiency (VOCAB). . . .

2 Subjects Reporting Distractions in
the Courtroom . . . . . .

3 Group Mean Scores of Dependent
Variables . . . . . . .

4 The Effect of the Television Camera
on Verbal Behavior. . . . . .

5 The Effect of Vocabulary Proficiency
on Verbal Behavior. . . . . .

6 Effect of Communication Apprehension
on Verbal Behavior. . . . . .

7 Interaction Effect of the Camera
Situation and Communication Appre-
hension on Verbal Behavior. . . .

S 69

. 73

. 77

S. 80

. 81

. 82

. 84


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree of
Doctor of Philosophy



Donald Lewis Shores, Jr.

August 1981

Chairman: Donald E. Williams, Ph.D.
Major Department: Speech

This study investigated the effects of the presence of

a television camera on the content of trial witness testi-

mony. The primary reason for conducting this study was to

begin providing a sound factual base for decision-making

concerning the psychological effects of cameras in the

courtroom. Specifically, this inquiry investigated possible

effects of the television camera's presence on the ability

of witnesses to present cogent testimony.

Testimony was obtained from 58 college-aged subjects

during a simulated trial situation using an actual court-

room. The testimony was analyzed to determine the type-

token ratio, mean word length, average word frequency of

the first 100 words of each subject's testimony, the total

adjusted length of the testimony, and the ratio of trivial

words used to the total number of words used by each sub-

ject. Using three independent variables (the camera situa-

tion, communication apprehension scores, and vocabulary

scores), an analysis of covariance revealed no statis-

tically significant differences among the dependent varia-

bles between subjects testifying with the television camera

in the courtroom and those testifying without the camera


However, significant (p < .05) main effects were found

between-vocabulary and average word frequency (p < .04),

and between communication apprehension and total adjusted

testimony (p < .001). A significant interaction effect

(p<.04) existed between the camera situation and communica-

tion apprehension for the average word frequency of sub-


A self-report instrument completed by subjects after

testifying in the courtroom indicated no-camera subjects

perceived more distractions (10 of 26) in the courtroom

while testifying than camera-condition subjects (9 of 32).

Four individuals mentioned the television camera as a

source of distraction.

This research and analysis led to the following con-


1. The television camera alone has no significant
effect on the lexical diversity of witness

2. An interaction of the camera situation with
an individual's personal level of communica-
tion apprehension significantly affects that
person's pattern of repeating words while
testifying in the courtroom.

3. A person's normal level of communication appre-
hension significantly affects his/her length
of testimony. Individuals possessing higher
levels of communication apprehension presented
longer testimony than individuals with lower
communication apprehension scores.



After more than 60 years, the legal debate continues

over the use of cameras in the courtroom. As this delibera-

tion continues, social scientists recognize that television

viewing occupies a significant part of the lives of our

country's citizens. A recent national poll (Roper, 1979)

indicated people in the United States rely on television

for most of their news and information. In the same vein,

United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger in

the majority opinion in Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v.

Virginia (1980) recognized the decline in firsthand ob-

servation of courtroom trials and an increasing reliance

of citizens on the media to acquire information about legal

proceedings. Justice Burger stated that this reliance on

media in one sense "validates the media claim of function-

ing as surrogates for the public" (pp. 5012-5013).

Nevertheless, a strong argument articulated by the

Supreme Court in Estes v. Texas (1965) provided the basis

for prohibiting cameras in many state courts because of the

undeveloped technology of broadcasting and the public's


lack of familiarity with broadcasting. Later in a report

to the Florida Supreme Court, Circuit Judge Paul Baker

(1977) indicated he perceived a change in the public's view

of broadcasting:

The day has indeed arrived when television
is commonplace in our daily lives. Tech-
nical advances over the last ten years
have made equipment less obtrusive than
during Estes and the majority of the media
personnel have come to view their role as
the conscience of the community with
greater responsibility. (p. 14)

In the 1980's, a second argument appears to constitute

the primary cause for delay in implementing courtroom

camera coverage--a fear of the possible psychological

effects of the camera on trial participants. The abstract-

ness of this argument makes rebuttal difficult. In

Chandler v. Florida (1980) attorney Joel Hirschhorn em-

phasized to the court that "common sense" and "human

nature" require the striking down of the Florida rule allow-

ing cameras in the courtroom (Associated Press, Gainesville

Sun, November 13, 1980, p. LA). Hirschhorn's "common sense"

plea, in addition to his lack of supporting evidence, under-

scores the need for research to ascertain what the psycho-

logical effects of cameras in the courtroom actually are, if

such effects indeed exist.


The conflicts between our country's lawyers and judges

and members of the news media as they interpret issues

related to the Constitutional concepts of fair trial and

free press comprise a classic clash involving these two

elements of our Federal Constitution's Bill of Rights.

The first amendment's guarantee of press freedom and the

sixth amendment's assurance of the defendant's right to a

fair, public trial appear to collide in the controversy

concerning the use of cameras (both still and television)

in the courtroom (Fatzer, 1979, p. 232). The assumption

that the mere presence of cameras "could deny the defendant

the constitutional right to a fair trial" (Graham, 1978,

p. 546) lies at the center of the debate regarding the use

of cameras in the courtroom.

Since the 1930's, members of the legal community in

discussing the courtroom behavior of trial participants,

have emphasized the possibility of constraining psycho-

logical effects being caused by the presence of still

and/or television cameras. The Dean of the Harvard Law

School, Erwin Griswold (1962), suggested that even if the

noise and disturbance elements of courtroom cameras could

be completely controlled "there would still remain the

fact of broadcasting and televising, and the inevitable

psychological impact which arises from that fact" (p. 617).

U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Douglas (1960)

echoed Griswold's concern as he also alluded to the factor

of "staged performance" as a possible detriment caused by

the presence of courtroom cameras:

It is the fact of photography, the fact
that the intrusion is present, the fact
that all the principals to the trial--
judge, witness, lawyer, jury--are "on
stage" which is inescapably distracting
from the task at hand. It is the fact
that these participants are made actors
which is dangerous and disturbing.
(p. 7)

Other members of the legal profession have expressed

concern that cameras recording judicial proceedings might

impair the ability of the witness to respond.. U.S. Supreme

Court Justice Tom Clark in the majority opinion in Estes v.

Texas (1965) wrote that the "impact upon a witness of the

knowledge that he is being viewed by a vast audience is

simply incalculable" (Gillmor, 1974, p. 457). The possible

outcomes mentioned by Clark could be collectively cate-

gorized as distortion. Agreeing with this classification,

Griswold (1962) feared the presence of cameras would cause

a measurable difference in participant output and "an

inevitable interference with the administration of justice"

(p. 617).

While various claims could be conjectured, methodical

investigation is needed to determine what effects cameras

have on witnesses. Approaching the courtroom scene as a

communication situation, we find the circumstances promote

a continuing interaction among the participants in the situa-

tion. The witness comprises one vital element in the trial

process (Hirschhorn, 1979, p. 30; Pryor, strawn, Buchanan,

and Meeske, 1979, p. 22; Tongue & Lintott, 1980, p. 792);

the lawyers, the judge, the jury members, and other court

officials are the other parties filling specific roles. It

is the witness, however, who must enter the unfamiliar

environment of the courtroom, swear to tell the truth, and

then respond to inquiries from competing advocates in the

controversy. As many jurists have stated, cameras could

possibly change or even distort the continuing interactions

in the courtroom. The problem lies in the discovery and

the objective measurement of this possible distortion, if

it does exist.

This dissertation reports the findings of a study

designed to quantify the effects of a courtroom television

camera on the ability of the witness to present cogent

testimony. By the observation of witness testimony in a

controlled, experimental environment and the analysis of

the testimony for relative complexity, the study begins

the process of quantifying the effects of a television

camera on the witness's ability verbally to express ideas.

The complexity of the communication process makes

particular demands of research conducted in this particu-

lar communication situation. Viewing the trial as a com-

munication situation, we observe countless variables inter-

acting. With the scope of this inquiry limited to the

witness's communication behavior, this study initiated in-

vestigation of a single component or participant in the

trial process. The factors affecting even this one com-

ponent could comprise a long list. For the purposes of

this study three specific factors received attention: The

effects of the presence of a television camera in the court-

room on the witness's ability to present testimony; on

the witness's anxiety about communicating; and on the

witness's ability to use language (vocabulary).

Historical Background of the
Current Controversy

The Bruno Hauptmann trial in 1935 prompted the

American Bar Association seriously to consider the poten-

tially obtrusive nature of courtroom media coverage (White,

1979, p. 4). The arrest and trial of Hauptmann for the

kidnapping of the Charles Lindbergh baby provided the news

media sufficient incentive to enter the courtroom and

report directly to the public. The sensational nature of

the trial encouraged intense competition among members of

the media to provide the most complete, realistic coverage.

The large number of media personnel present for the trial

(approximately 700 news reporters and over 100 photogra-

phers) presented the court with the problem of controlling

media persons' movements during the trial to prevent

obtrusive interference in the trial proceedings (White,

1979, p. 4).

Subsequently, the American Bar Association explored

the possible repercussions of the presence of the media in

the courtroom and in 1937 adopted Canon 35 as one of its

Canons of Judicial Ethics (Aspen, 1978, p. 82). Canon 35

forbade the taking of photographs in the courtroom or the

broadcasting of trial proceedings. The ABA edict stated

that such reporting was "calculated to detract from the

essential dignity of the proceedings, degrade the court

and create misconceptions with respect thereto in the mind

of the public" (Gillmor, 1974, p. 452). In 1952, the ABA

amended Canon 35 to include television coverage as well

(Wolf, 1978, p. 419).

Pressure from media representatives for a relaxing of

Canon 35 resulted in a 1955 Texas experiment in which live

proceedings of a murder trial were televised to the public

(White, 1979, p. 5). Following the experiment, the Texas

Bar Association declined to endorse Canon 35. The next

year, the Colorado Supreme Court began a series of hearings

examining the use of cameras and their effects in the

courtroom. Thus in 1956, Colorado replaced Canon 35 with

a rule allowing camera coverage of trials (Wolf, 1978,

p. 419).

Events in Texas and Colorado began to erode support

for Canon 35, or at least raise a reasonable doubt about

its desirability. The decade of the 1950's closed with

Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas allowing cameras to cover

judicial proceedings at the discretion of the judges and

the media, and at least twelve other states reporting use

of cameras in isolated cases or as common practice

(White, 1979, p. 6).

The 1965 review of the Billie Sol Estes case by the

U.S. Supreme Court slowed the progress of courtroom camera

coverage. The Court reviewed Estes' 1962 swindling con-

viction and ruled that televising a state criminal trial

was a denial of due process (Wolf, 1978, pp. 420-421).

The courtroom scene during the Estes trial was graphically

described to the Supreme Court: Cables and wires "snaked

across the courtroom floor," microphones "beamed at the

jury box and counsel table," yielding the conclusion "that

the activities of the television crews and news photogra-

phers led to considerable disruption" (Gillmor, 1974,

p. 454).

In its Estes decision the Supreme Court outlined at

least four ways televised trials could cause unfairness.

In the majority opinion, Justice Tom Clark enumerated these

areas of concern:

(1) The potential impact of tele-
vision on the jurors is perhaps of the
greatest significance. . The con-
scious or unconscious effect that this
/-trial notoriety_7 may have on the
juror's judgment cannot be evaluated. .
/-I_7t is practically impossible to
assess the effect of television on jury
attentiveness, . and new trials
plainly would be jeopardized in that
potential jurors will often have seen
and heard the original trial when it was

(2) The quality of testimony in
criminal trials will often be impaired.
The impact upon a witness of the knowl-
edge that he is being viewed by a vast
audience is simply incalculable.

(3) A major aspect of the problem
is the additional responsibilities the
presence of television places on the
trial judge.

(4) Finally, we cannot ignore the
impact of courtroom television on the
defendant. Its presence is a form of
mental--if not physical--harassment,
resembling a police line-up or the
third degree. . A defendant on trial
for a specific crime is entitled to his
day in court, not in a stadium, or a
city or nationwide arena. (Gillmore,
1974, pp. 456-458)

Although the high court essentially banned camera

trial coverage in reversing the Estes decision, Justice

John Harlan in his concurring opinion spoke optimistically

about the future development of camera technology and the

public's acclimation to the presence of television cameras

which could prompt a rehearing of the issue.

Finally, we should not be deterred from
making the constitutional judgment which
this case /Estes 7 demands by the pros-
pect that the day may come when tele-
vision will have become so commonplace
an affair in the daily life of the average
person as to dissipate all reasonable
likelihood that its use in our court-
rooms may disparage the judicial process.
(Gillmor, 1974, p. 460)

In his Estes majority opinion, Justice Clark also in-

dicated cameras might find a place in the courtrooms of

the future:

It is said that the ever-advancing tech-
niques of public communication and the
adjustment of the public to its presence
may bring about a change in the effect
of telecasting upon the fairness of

criminal trials. But we are not deal-
ing here with future development in
electronics. Our judgment cannot be
rested on the hypothesis of tomorrow
but must take facts as they are presented
today. (Gillmor, 1974, p. 458)

The 1970's witnessed the acknowledgment of the poten-

tial value of the electronic media in courtroom trial

situations even though restrictions remained intact. In

August, 1972, the American Bar Association replaced Canon

35 with Canon 3A(7) of the new Code of Judicial Conduct

(Wolf, 1978, p. 421). The new canon continued the ban on

photographing and broadcasting trial proceedings but

recognized the positive uses of audio and videotaping for

presentation of evidence, maintaining court records, and

educating lawyers and judges (Kornblum, 1973; Miller and

Fontes, 1979; and Miller, Bender, Florence and Nicholson,

1974). Proponents of camera courtroom coverage have tried

almost yearly further to relax the restrictions of Canon

3A(7). Even so, as late as February, 1979, the ABA House

of Delegates rejected any change in the canon (White,

1979, p. 7).

By early 1981, the following thirteen states, by

judicial decision, allowed still and television camera

coverage of courtroom proceedings on a permanent basis:

Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Montana,

New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas,

Washington, and Wisconsin (Carter, 1981, pp. 52-86). In

addition, sixteen states now allow courtroom cameras on

an experimental basis: Arkansas, Arizona, California,

Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota,

Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania,

and West Virginia (Carter, 1981, pp. 87-123, 128).

At the present time, these eight states are either

studying or considering the possibilities of allowing

cameras in the courtroom: Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri,

Nebraska, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, and Virginia (White,

1979, pp. 27-32). Two states have recently declined to

change existing rules forbidding cameras in the courtroom.

The Illinois Supreme Court denied a petition by the state's

News Broadcasters Association to allow courtroom broad-

casting in May, 1978 (White, 1979, p. 27). North Carolina

journalists had their petitions for relaxed photography

restrictions turned down in 1961 and 1969 (White, 1978,

p. 29).

The courts forbid photography in the courtrooms of

Delaware, Hawaii, South Carolina, Maine, and Wyoming.

Experts in those states foresee no change in the policy

regarding use of cameras in the courtroom in the near

future. The only state with no rule forbidding courtroom

cameras, Mississippi, has no courtroom cameras by orders

of various state judges (White, 1979, p. 33).

Currently, the prevailing guideline for controlling

cameras in the courtroom is Canon 3A(7) of the American

Bar Association's Code of Judicial Conduct. The canon


A judge should prohibit broadcast-
ing, telecasting, recording, or taking
photographs in the courtroom and areas
immediately adjacent thereto during
sessions of court or recesses between
sessions, except that the judge may
(a) the use of electronic and
photographic means for the presenta-
tion of evidence, for the perpetuation
of a record, or for other purposes of
judicial administration;
(b) the broadcasting, televising,
recording, or photographing of investi-
tive, ceremonial, or naturalization
(c) the photographic or electronic
recording and reproduction of appro-
priate court proceedings under the
following conditions:

(i) the means of recording
will not distract participants
or impair the dignity of the
(ii) the parties have con-
sented and the consent to being
depicted or recorded has been
obtained from each witness

appearing in the recording
and reproduction;
(iii) the production
will not be exhibited until
after the proceeding has been
concluded and all direct ap-
peals have been exhausted;
(iv) the reproduction will
be exhibited only for instruc-
tional purposes in educational
institutions. (Wolf, 1978,
p. 421)

The responsibility of whether to allow cameras in

the courtroom has been shifted back to the individual

states by the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Chandler v.

Florida (1981). In that case two Miami, Florida, police-

men contended that television coverage of their trial

denied them the right to a fair trial. They argued that

the mere presence of cameras had an adverse effect on trial

participants thus preventing a fair trial.

The Supreme Court ruled that the appellants had pre-

sented insufficient evidence to.support their claim of

the inherent negative effect of television trial coverage.

Chief Justice Burger wrote in the majority opinion:

No one has been able to present em-
pirical-data sufficient to establish
that the mere presence of the broad-
cast media inherently has an adverse
effect on that 5"the trial]7 process.
(Chandler v. Florida, 1981, p. 4146)

Justice White, who dissented in Estes supported an

overturning of the Estes decision and voiced his doubts

about the inherent prejudicial nature of televising


I am unwilling to assume or conclude
without more proof than has been mar-
shalled to date that televising criminal
trials is inherently prejudicial even
when carried out under properly con-
trolled conditions. (Chandler v. Florida,
1981, pp. 4148-4149)

Reacting to the Chandler decision, Washington legal

reporter Lyle Denniston (1981) commented that "Chandler

thus may stand, at this point, only for the idea that

states may allow television to come into court, but have

no constitutional duty to permit cameras" (p. 21). The

Chandler decision allows the states to decide if cameras

should be present in their courtrooms and it allows indi-

vidual judges wide discretion in limiting the camera's

access to trials (Denniston, 1981, p. 20). Although this

decision (Chandler) may be a step forward for the news

media, the Supreme Court refused to allow an absolute right

of access to media cameras. Thus, in 60 years of debate

the courts have approved a tenuous privilege to the media

allowing cameras to photograph and televise judicially

approved and designated courtroom trial situations.

Review of Relevant Literature

This study's focus on witness testimony calls for a

review of the literature dealing specifically with the

effects of television cameras on trial witnesses. Because

of the public nature of courtroom proceedings, at least

two other bodies of literature relate to this study: The

effects of videotaping on the oral performance and atti-

tudes of speech students, and the effects of communication

apprehension on verbal behavior.

Since little research has been completed assessing

the effects of cameras on the performance of witnesses,

it seems logical to investigate related environments where

the effects of cameras can be studied. With the increased

educational use of videotaping, researchers have studied

the effects of videotaping on students. One such group

was beginning speech students at the collegiate level in

classes featuring oral presentations before audiences.

The review of the research on videotaping that follows

reveals experimental results relative to the study of

witnesses' verbal behavior in the courtroom.

As a second consideration, an often mentioned effect

of the camera's presence on witnesses in the courtroom is

nervousness or stage fright. An examination of the

literature dealing with the phenomenon of communication

apprehension discloses discussion of verbal behaviors

generally attributed to individuals in apprehension arous-

ing situations. The courtroom, with its robed judge and

carefully controlled aura of decorum and solemnity, could

be considered an apprehension arousing situation. Thus,

to make a specific observation, some witnesses' verbal

behaviors may be the result of apprehension due rather to

the courtroom setting than to the presence of a camera.

First, therefore, research pertaining to witness testimony

will be reviewed; this will be followed by a review of re-

search on the two related topics cited previously.

Witness Testimony

As mentioned earlier in this study (p. 6), television

camera coverage of witness testimony became a specific con-

cern of the legal profession in 1952, when the American Bar

Association amended Canon 35 of the Code of Judicial Conduct

to exclude television cameras from the courtroom and added

a phrase indicating the electronic media's potential to

"distract the witness in giving his testimony" (Graham,

1978, p. 546). In a speech to the Colorado Law School,

Supreme Court Justice Douglas (1960) enumerated some of

the areas of concern related to witness testimony:

Will not a witness' recollection of the
facts in favor of the defendant be
colored by the publicity and public
sentiment? Again, even if a witness'
recollection is unaffected, will not
the fact that his testimony is broad-
cast make him reluctant to fully state
the facts in favor of the defendant, in
the face of adverse public sentiment?
(pp. 7, 8)

Justice Clark in Estes specifically mentioned witness

testimony (see page 9 of this study) as one of four areas

of interest regarding televised trials (Gillmor, 1974,

pp. 456-458). Judge Baker in his report on camera coverage

of the Florida v. Zamora (1977) trial shared Justice Clark's

concern, but labeled that concern "misplaced" when directed

solely toward the broadcast media. Baker (1977) suggested

that sensational trials are usually reported "in greater

detail on the printed page" than in radio or television

broadcasts (p. 15).

In a survey of Florida attorneys during that state's

year-long experiment with cameras in the courtroom,

Buchanan, Pryor, Meeske, & Strawn (1979) listed some of

the attorneys' concerns. These included fears that a wit-

ness might alter testimony "concerning matters be believes

very unpopular," or that a witness might hesitate to give

testimony which "tends to contradict a fact testified by a

greater number of witnesses" (p. 35).

Early experiments. Court officials in Waco, Texas,

conducted what may have been the first courtroom test of

cameras in 1955. Following the camera-recorded murder

trial, Judge D. W. Bartlett stated that he had observed.

no grandstanding by either reporters or witnesses. Bartlett

noted that cameras distracted no more than a court re-

porter (Blashfield, 1962, p. 432). Apparently, officials

conducted no formal survey to ascertain the effect of the

cameras on participants.

Beginning in 1956, Colorado allowed cameras in state

courts. Although no controlled experiments or surveys

were conducted, State Supreme Court Justice Frank Hall

(1962) reported six years later that the court could detect

no witnesses being distracted in presenting testimony and

that "no witness has been heard to complain" (p. 1121).

The circuit court system in Washtenaw County, Michigan,

in 1961, installed a closed-circuit television system in

one of the county's courtrooms and broadcast the pro-

ceedings to students at the University of Michigan Law

School. The circuit judge involved in the experiment

reported nothing about the process had "been observed

to be distracting to a witness or any other participant

in a court proceeding" (Blashfield, 1962, p. 429).

A December, 1974, Washington state experiment allowed

the installation of cameras in one courtroom and explained

to all trial participants the nature of the experiment.

The proceedings were taped for later closed circuit view-

ing. Following the trial, an informal survey indicated

witnesses had not been disturbed, distracted, or interfered

with in giving their testimony. Most of the witnesses

reported not even noticing the use of still cameras. They

also acknowledged not being "conscious of the operation

of the TV equipment while waiting to testify or while

testifying" (Blonk, 1974, p. 18).

An attorney involved in that Washington experiment

"felt the witnesses might have reacted differently if

they had not been advised by an attorney that the TV was

not live" (Blonk, 1974, p. 18). Thus the size of the

receiving audience as perceived by the witness may affect

responses to the cameras.

Recent experiments. A Nevada district court allowed

a Las Vegas television station to tape an attempted murder

case in 1976 (State v. Solorzano, 92 Nev. 144). The

television station set up two cameras in the courtroom

with all other broadcasting equipment placed in an

adjoining room. Following the trial, television station

personnel interviewed participants and reviewed the taped

record of the trial and discovered no irregular behavior:

There is no indication from the Solorzano
record of any of the detrimental behavior
modification--strutting, playing to the
camera, embarrassment, witness intimida-
tion, politicking, or general foolishness
--which the Estes court had so firmly
asserted would befall televised trials.
(Goldman, 1978, p. 2040)

The defense attorney in the Solorzano case told

interviewers after the trial that in his opinion the video-

taping "had no visible adverse effect on the jurors, judge,

witnesses, attorneys, or most important, Xavier Solorzano"

(Goldman, 1978, pp. 2262-2263). The prosecutor in the case

reiterated the defense attorney's remarks and praised the

positive effects of videotaping:

The psychological effect upon jurors,
witnesses, and attorneys was positive.
I did not detect anything which would
suggest that the presence of the cameras
was an unduly inhibiting influence or
that it produced a cavalier--showboating
type--response in anyone. On the con-
trary, the ever-present cameras were
conducive to better preparation by
attorneys, increased attentiveness by
jurors, and improved articulation by
witnesses. (Goldman, 1978, p. 2264)

During the internationally-televised Florida murder

trial of Ronney Zamora in 1977, Judge Baker (1977) reported

no problems regarding witness testimony, especially in

the areas of concern mentioned by Justice Clark in Estes

(p. 15). Baker described the press as having "policed

themselves beautifully! I have no complaints with the press

whatsoever" (Knopf, 1977, p. 23). After admitting to a

reporter his initial misgivings about camera coverage of

the trial, Baker said "The press has gotten a lot more

sophisticated since then J-Hauptmann7. I never made a

request that was argued with, or not complied with"

(Knopf, 1977, p. 23). A similar response resulted from

a one-trial experiment in Ohio in 1978, in which the

judge in the case reported no perceptible "posing or act-

ing for the camera. . However, one witness acknowledged

that the possibility of being on television made him more

nervous" (Wolf, 1978, p. 427).

Other than post-trial interviews with trial partici-

pants, the first widely-publicized survey research

appeared after the one-year Florida experiment (July 4,

1977 through June 30, 1978). Researchers from the Univer-

sity of Central Florida administered questionnaires to

participants immediately following five trials in 1977-78.

The researchers obtained responses from only nine wit-

nesses. Of the witnesses who chose to respond, two out

of nine perceived the television cameras had inhibited

testimony. None of the witnesses perceived adverse

effects from still cameras (Pryor, Strawn, Buchanan, &

Meeske, 1979, p. 22).

In response to questions concerning fairness of

camera coverage to witnesses, Pryor's survey found just

less than 50% (59 of 119) of the respondents felt camera

coverage was fair to witnesses. The witnesses themselves

split evenly in their responses to the question of fair-

ness: Three reported TV coverage fair to witnesses,

three reported coverage unfair, and three were uncertain

of fairness (Pryor et al., 1979, p. 23).

A related study in 1978, regarding the Florida experi-

ment conducted by the same investigators surveyed 247 of

the state's attorneys. Of the attorneys responding to the

survey, 39% (96 individuals) had experienced camera trial

coverage. Over one-half the attorneys (125) felt tele-

vision cameras had no adverse effect on witnesses, while

more than two-thirds (164) of the respondents said still

cameras had no adverse effect on testimony (Buchanan et al.,

1979, p. 35).

Although a majority of the attorneys in Buchanan's

(1979) survey observed no adverse effects on witnesses,

those attorneys with over twenty years' experience "were

almost unanimous in their agreement" that cameras ad-

versely affected witnesses (p. 35). One prosecuting

attorney said "Some witnesses were reluctant to put

themselves in a bad light. Several were afraid for their

own safety or that of their families" (Buchanan et al.,

1979, p. 35).

Buchanan et al. (1979) concluded that although most

attorneys responding to the survey did not view cameras as

"procedurally disruptive," many did express "concern about

juror distraction and the effects of live camera coverage

on witnesses' testimony" (p. 36). However, attorneys who

had experienced cameras in the courtroom were less negative

toward camera use than were attorneys without courtroom

camera experience.

The Supreme Court of Florida administered a survey

in July, 1978, to assess the attitudes of non-judicial

participants in the one-year experiment. Forty-four

percent of the witnesses (654 of 1,500) contacted re-

sponded to the survey (A Sample Survey of Attitudes, 1978,

Appendix A). All respondents reported being "slightly"

or "moderately" aware of the cameras' presence in the

courtroom. Almost 40% of the witnesses perceived the

presence of the cameras made them feel "slightly more

responsible for their actions" (L-Florida_7 Code of

Judicial Conduct, 1979, p. 156). More than 80% of the

witnesses felt slight distraction or no distraction by

the cameras' presence. The cameras' presence slightly

to moderately affected almost 40% of the witnesses' per-

ception of the trial's importance. Court personnel (84%)

and attorneys (85%) perceived the presence of the cameras

to affect the flamboyancyy" of witnesses not at all or

slightly. They (66% of the court personnel and 57% of

the attorneys) did feel that witnesses were slightly

inhibited by the presence of the cameras ("Florida_7

Code of Judicial Conduct, 1979, p. 156).

The Wisconsin Supreme Court appointed an eleven-

member committee to monitor and evaluate the use of audio

and visual equipment in the courtroom during a one-year

experiment beginning April 1, 1978. The evaluation com-

mittee used trained court observers to report on trial

proceedings using cameras and to interview trial partici-


The Wisconsin court observers reported no cases of

objectionable distraction by media representatives.

Through interviews the observers discovered some judges

and attorneys who felt witnesses may have experienced

more nervousness due to cameras in the courtroom but the

majority felt the quality of the testimony was undamaged

(Report of the /-Wisconsin_7 Supreme -Court Committee,

1970, pp. 11, 19, 30, 41, 54, 57). At least three inter-

view respondents observed that initial witness appre-

hension subsided or vanished during the process of testify-

ing (pp. 20, 39, 47). Two trial participants expressed

opinions about the cameras' positive influence on wit-

nesses (pp. 16, 21).

The California Supreme Court began a one-year camera-

in-the-courtroom experiment from June 1, 1980, to July 1,

1981, and enlisted a Sacramento law firm to assess the

effects of the camera coverage on the performance of

courtroom participants. The Vice-President of that law

firm, Charles Doolittle, outlined the areas of concern

regarding witnesses in a letter to this researcher:

(1) There is the question of wit-
nesses coming forward or not coming
forward because of camera presence.
That is, an individual may be "scared
off" because of camera coverage, or a
witness may surface because they L-sic.
became aware of the trial through
electronic media.

(2) The question of presentational
ability is being researched by our pro-
ject. Are witnesses nervous in front
of cameras to the extent that their

testimony is impaired? Is there a
problem with telling the truth or the
whole truth because of camera presence?

(3) Are witnesses reluctant to
participate again in court processes
because of their experience in front
of the cameras? (Doolittle, 1980,
p. 1)

Although incomplete, preliminary findings of the

California study indicate a minimal level of witness

distraction due to camera presence. However, witnesses

have generally voiced three types of concerns:

(1) Apprehension about subsequent
editing of their testimony by the broad-
cast media;

(2) A feeling that some harm might
come to them because of their broadcast
testimony, either reputational, pro-
fessional, financial, or physical; and

(3) An undefined feeling of distrac-
tion and apprehension about the presence
of the camera, that is, a fear of its
unknown effects. (Doolittle, 1980,
p. 2)

Hoyt (1977) has conducted the only controlled ex-

periment purporting to examine the effects of the camera

on a person's ability to answer questions. Using college

students and an informational film, Hoyt attempted to

quantify the effects of an obtrusive camera, a hidden

camera, and no camera on the length, detail, and correctness

of subject responses to factual questions. The study

revealed that subjects in the obtrusive camera situation

talked longer when responding, waited less time before

speaking, and used more words in their answers than sub-

jects in either of the other conditions (hidden camera or

no camera). Findings also indicated that the testimony

of subjects in the obtrusive camera situation contained

significantly more correct information than subjects in the

other two conditions. Hoyt's findings appear to corroborate

a 1967 court opinion concerning the openness of the court-


The public notice of judicial proceeding
tends to improve the quality of testi-
mony, first by producing in a witness'
mind a disinclination to falsify, and
second, by securing the presence of
other non-parties who may be able to
furnish testimony to contradict falsi-
fiers. (Loewen, 1978, p. 512)

Although a controlled experiment, Hoyt's study failed

to provide control for important variables affecting the

subjects' responses. Certain subjects may have possessed

larger vocabularies than others and may have experienced

varying degrees of apprehension; either or both of these

factors could have affected their responses. Another

factor that might have contaminated the results concerned

the population of student subjects. All of the subjects

were enrolled in a course pertaining to the study of mass

media and society. Mass media students could have been

more familiar with and more positively disposed toward the

presence of the camera. Hoyt's study also did not place

subjects in a courtroom setting.

In summary, the research findings in the area of

camera effects on witness testimony consist primarily of

self-report survey studies. Many of the responses are

personal estimations and speculations about contexts in

which no variables were experimentally controlled. Studies

reveal some self-reported instances of witness distraction

or inhibition attributed to the presence of cameras in the

courtroom. Considered wholly, the survey results tend to

disprove, or at least provide scant support for, the con-

cerns enumerated in the Estes opinion.

The results of methodical surveys to date include a

relatively small number of witness responses compared to

the responses from judges, attorneys, jury members, and

other court personnel. Pryor's Florida survey secured

responses from only nine witnesses. Although the Florida

Supreme Court survey obtained responses from 654 witnesses,

the witness response rate of only 44% was the lowest

return rate of any participant category. So even though

the results of these surveys may appear favorable toward

camera coverage, in terms of its effects on witnesses,

a relatively small population provides the basis for

these results.

The only available experimental results imply

productive, desirable, positive effects when persons

answer questions in the presence of cameras. Subjects

responding in the camera condition appeared to provide

more correct, detailed, and accurate information in answer-

ing questions than subjects in the no-camera condition.

Effects of Videotaping
on Speech Students

Although experimental and survey findings have pro-

vided limited data on the effects of cameras in the court-

room, research with cameras in educational settings provides

information about the effects of cameras on students making

oral presentations in the classroom. The public testimony

of a courtroom witness differs from the oral presentation

of a speech student, yet certain similarities exist: Both

student and witness are verbalizing in a "public" setting;

both may be unfamiliar with the presence of cameras; and

both may experience additional fear or anxiety in the public

situation either with or without cameras present. Because

of these similarities, a brief review of the effects of

videotape use in the classroom may help provide a basis

for understanding certain aspects of the courtroom effects

of cameras on witnesses.

The use of videotape recorders (VTR) and cameras in

the classroom began in the late 1950's and early 1960's.

Research into the effectiveness of VTR in classroom situa-

tions began in earnest in the late 1960's. The research

of the early 1970's found that the use of cameras and

recording equipment in the classroom did not create any

negative reactions from student speakers. Bush, Bittner,

and Brooks (1972) found no significant differences in

levels of anxiety, exhibitionism, or reticence among

students exposed to use of the VTR and students whose

instructors did not use VTR as a teaching tool to record

and playback student presentations. Bush et al. hypo-

thesized that an "anxiety threshold" may exist where the

presence of the classroom audience of peers creates an

inherently anxious situation for the speaker (p. 129).

Therefore, the addition of the camera may add little or

no anxiety stimuli to this environment.

Other research dealing with the effects of VTR use

in the classroom revealed that students presenting more

formal, organized speeches reflected a more rigid delivery

than students not subjected to the VTR (Deiker, Crane, and

Brown, 1971, p. 141), and students speaking in the VTR

condition experienced significantly fewer nonfluencies

than non-VTR students (Deihl, Breen, and Larson, 1970,

p. 188).

An early study by Welke (1968) involved student

speakers appearing in three audience conditions: A visible

audience, both a visible audience and an invisible

audience (through use of closed-circuit television), and

an invisible audience only. He found that student speakers

experienced significantly less "audience-induced anxiety

over time" when speaking to either the visible audience

only, or the audience comprised of both visible members

and closed-circuit viewers than when speaking only to the

invisible audience (p. 18). The least anxiety arousing

situation approximates the audience conditions of a court-

room with television cameras. Welke also discovered that

individual speakers responded differently to the various

conditions. Some speakers reported less anxiety when

speaking to the visible audience, while others preferred

the invisible audience.

At least three studies yielded positive attitudinal

results related to VTR use. Two different studies found

that students exposed to VTR use developed significantly

more positive attitudes toward its use than students not

exposed to classroom use of the VTR (Goldhaber & Kline,

1972; McCroskey & Lashbrook, 1970). In a slightly

different finding, Bradley (1970) concluded that students

who used the VTR daily in the classroom developed a more

positive attitude toward the "intellectual atmosphere"

and "content evaluation" of the course than did students

in the no-VTR situation (p. 166).

Research related to use of cameras in educational

settings suggests the presence of a camera may promote a

more formal, conscious effort by participants to present

themselves in the best possible manner within an audience

setting considered "naturally" anxiety arousing. Perhaps

the courtroom witness may experience the "anxiety thres-

hold" mentioned by Bush et al. If so, the witness's aware-

ness of the camera in the courtroom may not increase an

already existing level of anxiety.

The finding by Welke that students reported a

reduction of anxiety over time may prove inconsequential

in this study of witnesses since a majority of witnesses

testify either only briefly or infrequently. However,

results indicating an increasingly positive attitude

of students toward VTR use over time tends to corroborate

some courtroom surveys indicating lawyers more accustomed

to camera coverage possess more positive attitudes toward

its use (Buchanan et al., 1979, p. 36).

Communication Apprehension
and Verbal Behavior

Just as increased exposure to VTR equipment may pro-

mote more positive attitudes toward its use in the class-

room, a witness's positive adjustment to the courtroom and

cameras in the courtroom may aid that witness in feeling

less apprehensive or frightened in a trial situation. In

regular trial proceedings, courtroom observers frequently

mention the perceived existence of apprehension among

witnesses. Participants in trials frequently suggest

that witnesses may experience "detrimental psychological

reactions" (Blashfield, 1962, p. 434), nervousness and

tension (Gillmor, 1974, p. 459; Douglas, 1960, p. 5),

stage fright (Griswold, 1962, p. 616; Buchanan et al.,

1979, p. 35), or heightened self-consciousness (Code of

Judicial Conduct, 1979, p. 156). These observations suggest

an important variable in a study of the camera's effect on

witnesses--communication apprehension.

McCroskey (1977) defined communication apprehension

(CA) as "an individual's level of fear or anxiety

associated with either real or anticipated communication

with another person or persons" (p. 78). This concept

appears to describe one type of reaction some or most

witnesses experience in the courtroom (with or without


A primary concern of this research was the effect of

CA on a witness's ability to testify, and whether this

effect was intensified by the presence of a camera.

Earlier researchers have discovered differences in the

verbal behavior of low and high apprehensive individuals.

Lerea (1956) discovered that low apprehensives pro-

duced a larger quantity of verbal output, a higher type-

token ratio, and fewer nonfluencies and speaking errors

(p. 233). Powers (1977) found high apprehensives talked

less and used more rhetorical interrogatives (non-Ah

interjections such as "you know?") than low apprehensives.

Freimuth (1976) found a significant relationship

between CA and an individual's perceived "communication

effectiveness" (p. 297). Behaviors resulting from the

interaction of CA and communication effectiveness included

high apprehensives reporting more.silence in their speech,

low ratings in ability to use language, and overall in-

effectiveness in being understood by an auditor.

Jordan and Powers (1978) investigated verbal behavior

in relation to CA and social context. These researchers

found that social distance (context) had no significant

effect on verbal behavior; however, the level of appre-

hensiveness clearly accounted for differences in verbal

behavior (p. 298). Jordan and Powers also discovered that

high apprehensives responded more methodically to stress

by altering their verbal behavior to appear more socially

acceptable. Low apprehensives may be more confident in

their verbal ability and thus feel less need to adapt to

the situation (p. 299). High apprehensives may sometimes

adjust their verbal behavior in some stressful situations

to the degree that their verbalization resembles that of

low apprehensives.

A courtroom appearance without the presence of

cameras may represent an unusually stressful situation

for some witnesses. However, the stress felt by witnesses

when television cameras are present in the courtroom could

affect their testimony in a number of ways: The witness may

say less, experience longer periods of silence, use fewer

different words to frame responses, or experience a

diminished capacity to use language; on the other hand,

the apprehensive witness may adjust verbal behavior to

approximate that of a low apprehensive witness.

Rationale for This Study

The controversy surrounding the presence of cameras

in the courtroom continues to plague legal and media pro-

fessionals. After more than 60 years of debate little factual

evidence exists to support either side of the question as

to what effects the camera has, if any, on the communication

behavior of witnesses (Fatzer, 1979, pp. 230, 239). Attor-

ney Joel Hirschhorn claimed at an American Judicature

Society convention there were "no objective scientific

studies on the effects of the presence of cameras in

courts" (Chance, 1980, p. 9). To date, each side of the

controversy bases arguments "largely on theories and

assumptions rather than facts" (Wolf, 1978, p. 427).

The possible psychological effects of cameras on

trial participants remain a major concern with jurists.

The effects of cameras on witnesses will never be known

until systematic research efforts probe the question.

Although many legal professionals voice uncertainty about

allowing news cameras unlimited access to courtrooms, most

recognize the need for continued research. Justice Burger

in the majority opinion of the Chandler v. Florida (1981)

case declared "Further experimentation is necessary to

evaluate the potential psychological prejudice associated

with broadcast coverage of trials" (p. 4146).

The absence of research may be the result of jurists'

thinking that cameras must prove their positive value and

demonstrate an absence of influences on the proceedings

before being allowed in the courtroom where researchers may

conduct in-depth experimentation (Block, 1978, p. 455;

Gerbner, 1980, p. 426). However, experimental programs in

various states indicate research in the courtroom and

judicial due process can co-exist (Baker, 1977; Blonk, 1974;

Goldman, 1978; Hall, 1962; Loewen, 1978; Netteburg, 1980;

Pryor et al., 1979).

Research into the effects of cameras on witness

testimony is sparse (Barker, Note 1; Gerbner, Note 2; Hoyt,

Note 3; Miller, Note 4; and van Peski, Note 5). Former

Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Fatzer (1979)

held that the "actual impact of the camera's presence . .

on . witnesses remains speculative and unknown" (p. 239).

The only study tangetially related to the camera's effects

on witnesses is Hoyt's (1977), in which college students

studying mass communication generally gave more detailed,

more correct responses to questions in the presence of


The need for research specifically dealing with wit-

nesses relates to the "critical" (Hirschhorn, 1979, p. 56)

role of the trial witness. Cases are adjudicated on the

basis of evidence supplied by witnesses. The witness's

ability to recount events and frame responses in the most

appropriate language is crucial to the due process aspect

of our judicial system. At the same time, the perceived

need for the media to disperse information in an informative,

realistic manner to the public helps to create the current

controversy about the presence of cameras in courtrooms.

The public's need and right to know have been upheld

in recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions (Richmond News-

papers, Inc. v. Virginia, 1980; Gannett Co., Inc. v. De

Pasquale, 1979). By conducting carefully-controlled

experimental research, the media, jurists, and the general

public can begin to perceive what effects cameras have

on trial participants.

Research Hypotheses

Based on the preceding review of related research,

this study sought to test the following hypotheses:

1. The presence of a television camera in the
courtroom will significantly affect the
verbal behavior of witnesses so that the
content of testimony from such subjects
will be judged more lexically diverse than
that of subjects testifying in a courtroom
with no camera present.

2. The acquired verbal ability (vocabulary) of
the subject will have more influence on the
lexical diversity of the subject's testimony
than either communication apprehension or
the presence of the television camera.

3. The subject's reported measure of communica-
tion apprehension (PRCA) will have more im-
pact on the lexical diversity of that sub-
ject's testimony than the presence of the
television camera.

4. An interaction effect between communication
apprehension and acquired verbal ability will
have a significant influence on the lexical
diversity of the subject's testimony.


1. Barker, L. Professor of communication, Auburn
University. Personal communication, October 17,

2. Gerbner, G. Dean of the Annenberg School of Com-
munication, University of Pennsylvania. Personal
communication, May 8, 1981.

3. Hoyt, J. L. Personal communication, October 23, 1980.

4. Miller, G. R. Professor of Communication, Michigan
State University. Personal communication, October 13,

5. van Peski, D. Staff assistant, American Bar Associa-
tion, Chicago, Illinois. Personal communication,
October 21, 1980.



The Laboratory Versus.Field Setting

The social science researcher faces an almost un-

answerable dilemma in balancing the need for maximum

realism in research with the need for optimal experimental

control. Some experts concerned with the effects of tele-

vision cameras on witnesses' verbal behavior contend that

realism and control cannot co-exist in the same experi-

mental design (Gerbner, Note 1; Hirschhorn, Note 2).

Miller and Fontes (1979) addressed the question of

realism versus control and concluded that a balance be-

tween the two should be attained:

Awareness of the degree of experimental
control built into a study permits better
assessment of the extent to which the
stimulus presentation deviates from the
phenomenon being investigated. Both
generalizability and validity of the find-
ings will be affected by the amount of con-
trol imposed. Stated differently, too much
control may produce findings that are not
really generalizable to the phenomenon being
studied even though they may be treated as
highly probable knowledge claims. Conversely,
lack of experimental control may culminate
in propositions where the consequences are
attributed to the wrong antecedents or
"causes." (p. 42)

Bermant, McGuire, McKinley, and Salo (1974) criticized

most psycholegal research conducted to date for yielding

results of limited generalizability. Bermant et al.

described two properties to assess and classify research

findings: Structural verisimilitude and functional

verisimilitude. Structural verisimilitude was achieved

when research designs replicated the object or system being

studied in physical, proportional similarity. An example

would be using minutely scaled model trains or wind

tunnels to study causes of train derailments or the effects

of stress on airplane design. Functional verisimilitude was

present to the degree a study provided approximation of the

"conduct under specified conditions to the conduct of the

object or system being modeled" (p. 226).

Bermant et al. (1974) used the computer terms, "input,"

"throughout," and "output," to operationalize the concept

of verisimilitude in research. Structural verisimilitude

is concerned with input as well as demographic and psycho-

logical variables relative to the witness such as age, sex,

race, income, education, occupation, self-esteem and dogma-

tism, etc.; while functional verisimilitude refers to

throughput, or the operation of the model in relation to

an actual case, and output, or the end product of the model

compared to an actual situation (p. 227). Bermant asked

two questions in determining structural verisimilitude

of jury studies.

1. How realistic are the setting and circum-
stances wherein participants are asked to
behave as jurors?

2. How similar are the participants in the re-
search to-persons likely to serve on real
juries? (p. 227)

To determine functional verisimilitude one question was


1. How well does this model mimic the behavior
of actual juries behaving under conditions
of similar input? (p. 227)

Studying trial witness testimony using a laboratory

approach would emphasize functional verisimilitude, or the

processing and end product, i.e., the similarity of the

procedure used in the model to the actual procedure in a

real trial, and the final result (the witness's testimony)

of the model compared to the end product in a real trial.

The conduct or procedure used to elicit the testimony

would definitely affect the final form of that testimony.

This study concentrated on examining possible variables

affecting the trial witness's output or end product,

specifically the verbal testimony.

Experimental Controls

By using a laboratory approach such variables as the

type of trial (criminal, civil, etc.), the attorney-

questioning behaviors,.the distractions of the courtroom

audience, and the witness's knowledge of and relationship

to the crime could be controlled and kept constant with a

large number of witnesses. This study controlled the

variable of trial type by having all subject-witnesses

testify about the same crime. By using a videotape of

a simulated crime, each subject witnessed the same event

from a vantage point common to all participating witnesses.

Thus, the subjects' relationships to the crime and

the perpetrators and victims of the crime were held con-

stant. By using one attorney as questioner, each subject

experienced the same or similar questioning techniques.

The attorney in this study used a set of predetermined

questions for each subject. The slight variations in

the questions posed by the attorney were meant to improve

the interaction aspect and the realism of the situation.

Each subject testified before the same number of

persons in the courtroom. In order to limit possible varia-

tions of behavior by a large number of people in the

courtroom, the subjects testified with only five persons

present. Each of these confederates was instructed to

behave in the same manner during the questioning of each


By controlling a large number of variables, and by

using an actual courtroom with realistic court personnel,

this research improved the structural verisimilitude of

an earlier experiment (Hoyt, 1977). Hoyt did not use a

court setting, but only a "large room" where subjects were

seated at a table in the center of the room (p. 490). The

subjects were shown an informational, two-minute, color

film describing the operation of the Berlin Post Office.

In contrast, the study reported in this dissertation

used an actual courtroom as the setting; the subjects

viewed a videotape of a realistic convenience store rob-

bery; and the subjects in this study represented a variety

of backgrounds and interests.

Even though the in-court proceedings in this study

did not constitute an actual trial, the physical surround-

ings were purposely intended to reflect the solemnity and

decorum of an actual trial situation. The research design

used in this study attempted to combine the advantages of

a laboratory approach to control a large number of variables

and the field setting to add realism to the simulated trial


Subjects Used in This Study

This project used 58 college student volunteers who

were enrolled in an introductory speech communication

course at the University of Florida during the Spring

Quarter, 1981. Subjects received a modest bonus credit

toward their term evaluation in this speech course by

participating in the project. Although the subjects' age

range was a relatively narrow eight years (18-26), the

subjects varied in their backgrounds and interests as

evidenced by the 27 different academic areas of concentra-

tion represented in the group. Subjects reported academic

majors in agriculture, business, criminal justice and law,

education, engineering, health professions, journalism,

and various areas of liberal arts and sciences. There

were 39 women and 19 men who participated in the study.

Of those 58 subjects, 32 testified with the camera in the

courtroom while the remaining 26 had no camera in the

courtroom during their testimony. No subject had ever

testified as a witness in a trial proceeding and few (six)

had ever been in an actual courtroom.

Since it might be assumed that a majority of trial

witnesses are not college students between the ages of 18

and 26, the structural verisimilitude of this study was

limited in this respect. However, after discounting expert

trial witnesses such as law enforcement officers, doctors,

psychiatrists, etc., it might also be assumed that this

study's population of novice witnesses does reflect the

limited familiarity with court proceedings of the average

lay witness.


Two weeks before the experimental phase of the study,

all students in the sections of the introductory speech

course were administered the long-form Personal Report of

Communication Apprehension (PRCA) instrument (see Appendix A)

in individual class sections comprised of between 18 and

35 students. Before the administration of the PRCA, the

subjects were told they were being asked to complete a sur-

vey designed to discover how people perceive their personal

communication. Subjects were informed their scores would

be kept confidential and would have no bearing on their

class grades.

The PRCA is widely accepted in the field of study

of human communication as a valid, reliable measure of

communication apprehension. After eight years of use the

PRCA internal reliability estimates have ranged from .92

to .96, while reliability judged through the test-retest

method was .82 (McCroskey, 1978, p. 201). The validity

of the PRCA has been upheld in comparison to other CA

measuring instruments. Daly (1978), in comparing eight

scales used to measure anxiety in its various forms, found

the PRCA to be one of the three most reliable instruments

among the eight measures (p. 216). The other seven scales

included Watson and Friend's Social Anxiety and Distress

Scale; Paivio's Exhibitionism instrument; Gilkinson's Per-

sonal Report of Confidence as a Speaker Scale; and three

scales developed by Beatty, Kruger, and Springhorn to measure

prior apprehension avoidance, and tension (Daly, 1978, pp.

205, 206). Daly also found the PRCA to be the most "encom-

passing" instrument evaluated within this group (p. 216).

One week before the experimental phase of the study,

potential subjects were told when and where to report in

order to participate in the study. Students wishing to

participate were required to read and sign an "informed

consent" statement indicating they understood the purpose

of the project, the experimental procedures to be used,

and were willing to participate (see Appendix B). The

only element of the study the students were not informed

of concerned the use of a television camera as an integral

factor in the experiment.

The experimenter presented the explanation of the

procedures to be used in the project to the large audience

of students attending the lecture meetings of the intro-

ductory communication course attended by all members of

the course's smaller discussion sections. During this

presentation, the prospective subjects were informed that

the study sought to learn more about the oral communication

patterns of courtroom witnesses. The students were also

informed that their involvement in the study would take

a maximum of one hour.

The experimental phase of the .study was conducted for

three consecutive days, April 15, 16, 17, 1981, from 8 A.M.

until 5 P.M. Subjects were required to report to the

Alachua County Court Building in Gainesville, Florida;

the building houses both county and district court adminis-

trative offices and several courtrooms. The court building

was constructed in 1978, thus the rooms and furnishings

are of modern design. This project used two small court-

rooms and adjoining jury deliberation rooms.

Subjects met the experimenter either individually or

in groups of two to four, in one of the two courtrooms.

If the PRCA or the informed consent form had not been filled

out, the subjects completed either or both before proceeding.

If both forms had been completed, the subject or subjects

(not more than four at once) were taken by a research

assistant to a small jury deliberation room adjoining the


After seating the subjects in the jury room, the

research assistant (not the experimenter) informed them

they were about to view a videotape of a crime. Subjects

were not told if this crime was actual or simulated. The

subjects were asked to pay close attention to the videotape

because they would be asked to testify about the recorded

events. In a real situation, witnesses would not be fore-

warned to watch carefully the details of a crime about to

be committed. Yet, in a real situation, witnesses would be

questioned as soon as feasible after the crime and later

requestioned by police investigators and attorneys; the

events witnessed would be incrementally imprinted on the

witnesses' minds. Since time constraints prevented a

similar succession of events in this experiment, the sub-

jects were forewarned to observe the crime carefully; in

this way, memory acuity might be encouraged, somewhat as

it is in real life.

In order to enhance uniformity among the individual

groups of subjects, the research assistant read the

directions from an instruction sheet to each group. After

receiving these instructions, the subjects viewed the four-

minute videotape of a replicated convenience store robbery

(Note 3). Briefly, the color videotape began by showing

the exterior front view of a small convenience store. Two

men drove up to the front of the store in a small, foreign-

made car. One man went into the store and purchased a small

item while apparently observing the physical arrangement

of the store's interior. After making the purchase, the

man returned to the car and conversed with the second man

in the car about the advisability of robbing the store.

Shortly, the two men entered the store, waited a few mo-

ments, then forced at gunpoint two store employees to open

the cash register. After one man emptied the register, he

directed the two women employees through the store into

what appeared to have been a stockroom at the rear of the

store, while the second man exited the store and quickly

started the motor of the car. The first man ran back

through the store and got into the waiting car. As the car

sped away, the two employees escaped from the back room

and walked to the check-out counter where one woman, at

the very end of the tape, telephoned the police, reporting

the robbery.

Following the viewing of the videotape, the re-

search assistant administered a questionnaire to each

subject containing three sections: An introductory section

seeking demographic information (name, age, sex, major in

school, place of birth, and student classification in the

university); section two containing a 50-item standardized

vocabulary test; and the third section containing a 16-item

attitude questionnaire to assess the subjects' opinions of

the judicial system and the news media (see Appendix C).

This initial questionnaire was administered after the

subjects viewed the videotape in order to more closely

approach a real situation. Normally a crime witness would

experience a period of time between perceiving the crime and

testifying. The questionnaire not only provided necessary

data for the study but also served as a mental task to in-

volve the subjects' minds for an interval of time with

something other than the content of the videotape.

The Vocabulary Test for High School Students and

College Freshmen compiled by Arthur Traxler and published

by Bobbs-Merrill Company (Note 4) was used in this project

because of its ease of administration, short administration

time (15 minutes), reliability and validity. Reliability

scores for the Traxler test range from .90 to .92. When

compared to other tests widely used in academic placement

of students, such as the ACT, ACE, and the American

Council Psychological Examination, correlations ranged

from .83 to .88 (Traxler, 1964, p. 6). In 1963, a com-

parison of scores from the Traxler vocabulary test with

the SAT scores of freshmen college students resulted in a

.65 correlation. In this study, subjects' vocabulary scores

obtained from the Traxler test were compared to their SAT

verbal scores; a .76 correlation resulted. These results

indicate a strong relationship between the Traxler test

and established verbal indices. The strong positive correla-

tion between the SAT verbal scores of subjects in this study

with the vocabulary scores obtained from the Traxler test

indicate the test is an adequate measure of verbal aptitude.

The second portion of the initial questionnaire was

a 16-item attitude measure constructed by this experimenter

to probe such areas as the subject's attitudes toward the

fairness and honesty of both our judicial system and the

news media. The attitude items also sought to assess

the subject's understanding of the operation of our judicial

system and news media. Using a Likert-type scale, the

subjects indicated their agreement or disagreement with

the nine statements pertaining to the judicial system and

the seven statements relating to the news media. Although

not used as independent variables in this study, the re-

sponses provided insight into subjects' perceived relation-

ships with the court system and the media.

Following the pretest, each subject waited outside the

second courtroom until a student role-playing the bailiff

escorted the subject into the courtroom to the witness

stand. The bailiff then administered the oath to each sub-

ject. The subject sat down and the bailiff moved to a seat

in the jury box on the witness's immediate left. A retired

senior citizen role-playing the court judge directed the

attorney to question the witness.

A third-year law student questioned each witness using

a predetermined list of 15 questions (see Appendix D). The

questions asked of each subject were purposely open-ended

to allow the subject to express original thought rather

than any more presumed, predetermined replies. Since the

purpose of this study was to assess effects of the camera

on the content of testimony, the subject was given the

opportunity to respond in a natural, free-form manner as

no attempt was made to provide directive structure for the

subject's thought pattern, thus making the camera the

primary independent variable rather than the questions or

the responses. A second consideration in formulating the

15 questions was the need to obtain an adequate quantity

of testimony for analysis.

The same questions were asked of each subject with

only minor variations to reflect individuality of the

participants' responses. The variation in questioning

included repeating questions when asked, asking follow-up

questions related to subjects' responses, and offering

subjects the opportunity to elaborate on their answers.

Although the reliability of these variations may be ques-

tioned, the desire to achieve a realistic situation pre-

vailed in the decision to simulate an actual direct examina-

tion by an attorney rather than an experimenter simply

asking a set of stock questions with minimal interaction be-

tween the subject and the questioner.

The attorney maintained the same physical distance

(approximately eight feet) and general demeanor as he

questioned each subject (see Appendix E for selected

transcripts). After responding to the questions, each

subject was dismissed by the judge and escorted from the

courtroom by the bailiff, who in turn escorted the next

subject to the witness stand.

After testifying, each subject reentered the first

courtroom and completed a short questionnaire (see Appendix

F). This questionnaire contained two parts: The first

section sought to ascertain the subject's awareness of

distractions perceived in the courtroom while testifying;

the second section contained 14 statements adapted from

the PRCA which applied specifically to the situation

featuring courtroom testimony; and a final question

asked the subjects to describe their understanding of.the

study's purpose.

Earlier survey research assessed camera distraction

by simply asking: To what extent did the camera's pre-

sence in the courtroom distract you in giving testimony?

Although yielding information, this approach could possibly

cause respondents to view the camera as a distraction. In

this study subjects were asked an open-ended question:

"Did anything or anyone distract you during your testimony

in the courtroom?" The subject replied either "yes" or

"no" and then was asked to write a description of any dis-

tracting element, if such was perceived. This approach did

not suggest possible distractions, but allowed the subjects

individually to recognize disconcerting elements within the


The second portion of the final questionnaire con-

tained 11 statements adapted from the PRCA, and three

reworded versions of the open-ended questions in part one

of the questionnaire. Subjects responded to all the

questions of this questionnaire using a five-point Likert-

type scale. Although not a primary objective of this

study and not used as a variable in this study, the ex-

perimenter sought to assess the relationship between PRCA

scores and scores obtained from an instrument related to

the delivery of courtroom testimony as a specific communica-

tion situation. The three remaining questions of part two

served as a reliability check of questions contained in part

one. In an effort to provide control for any biased or

irresponsible statement which might appear, the final item

of this instrument assessed the subject's knowledge of the

study's purpose.

After completing the final questionnaire, the experi-

menter debriefed each subject individually. The debriefing,

consisted of general questions repeated for each subject,

such as: "What was your general reaction to testifying in

a courtroom; did the scene in the videotape appear realis-

tic; and did the courtroom scene seem real?" The experi-

menter scanned the completed final questionnaire and asked

for clarification of any ambiguous responses. Clarifica-

tions offered by the subjects were written on the ques-

tionnaire by the subject. After this initial questioning

period, the experimenter informed each subject that the

primary purpose of the study focused on the effect of the

television camera on the content of witness testimony.

By design, subjects were randomly assigned to one of

two experimental conditions before testifying in the court-

room: The condition with a portable videotape camera pre-

sent in the courtroom and the condition with no camera

being used in the courtroom. Every five subjects experi-

enced a different camera condition, i.e., the first five

subjects testified with the camera in the courtroom, the

second group of five subjects testified in the no-camera

condition, etc. A camera operator noticeably adjusted the

camera, which was mounted on a tripod during the testimony

of each witness, and started and stopped the video recorder

before and after each subject testified (see Appendix G

for a floor diagram of the courtroom). During each sub-

ject's testimony only five other persons were in the

courtroom: The judge, the attorney, the bailiff, the

camera operator (who served as an audience member in the

no-camera condition), and a person who tape-recorded all

the testimony for analysis.

The recording of all testimony was accomplished using

a portable audio cassette tape recorder. The person re-

cording was visible to the subjects as they entered the

courtroom, but subjects could see neither this person nor

the tape recorder while testifying (see Appendix G). The

first items of the final questionnaire (Did anything dis-

tract you while giving testimony in the courtroom?) was

used to assess any effects of the tape recorder in the

courtroom as well as the presence of the camera.

Analysis of Results

The testimony elicited during the courtroom question-

ing was transcribed from the audiotape and twice checked

for accuracy by the experimenter who compared the transcript

with the contents of the audiotape. The only change made

in the transcripts from the original audiotape was to change

vocalizations such as "uh huh," "huh uh," or "em huh" to

"yes," "no," and "yes," respectively. This change was

made only where the vocalization clearly represented a

positive or negative response to a question.

An integrated set of Fortran IV programs known as

FAMULUS (Ashley & Cruse, 1980) was used to analyze the

testimony. The FAMULUS family of computer programs has

been used since its development in 1967, to organize, sort,

and enumerate various types of numerical and lexical data

(Ashley & Cruse, 1980, p. 4) (Note 5). The specific

FAMULUS program "count" yielded the total number of words

used by each subject, the total number of different words

used, the frequency of each word used, the mean word length

of all words used by each subject, and the frequency with

which each subject repeated words while testifying.

The total number of words used and the number of dif-

ferent individual words used was needed to compute the type-

token ratio (TTR) of each subject. The TTR is computed by

dividing the number of individual words (types) used by the

total number of words (tokens) in a spoken sample (Carpen-

ter, 1969, p. 162; Johnson, 1944, p. 1). The most re-

liable TTR must be computed using the same-sized samples

of not less than 100 words, since the normal person repeats

a word every 10 to 15 words spoken (Miller, G. A., 1963,

p. 89). Therefore, generally, the larger the language

sample, the smaller the number of different types used in

proportion to the total number of words.

The mean word length (MWL) for each subject was used

as an indicator of vocabulary (Johnson, 1944; Carpenter,

1969). The average word frequency (AWF) reflected how

many words a subject spoke before repeating a previously

used word. For example, an AWF of 9.50 would indicate the

subject spoke an average of nine and one-half words before

repeating a word already used during the testimony.

By searching the list of words and their frequencies

used by each subject, the total numberof articles (a, an,

the) and vocalized pauses (eh, un, um, and).was calculated.

This total (named trivial words) was subtracted from the

total number of words used by the subject to obtain the

total adjusted testimony length (TAT) for each witness.

In addition, the division of the total number of trivial

words by the total number of words used (plus trivial words)

yielded a trivial word ratio (TWR) for each subject.

The use of TAT and TWR seemed more valid to this

researcher as dependent variables than simply considering

the total number of words used by each subject. An in-

dividual might testify using a large total number of words,

yet if 25% or 33% of those words were simply vocalized

pauses or articles the lexical quality and complexity of

the testimony would be judged of lower quality than an

individual using the same total number of words but fewer

trivial words. To date, TAT and TWR have not been used

in the analysis of testimony by other researchers.

The first 100 words of each subject's testimony re-

ceived an additional analysis to determine the TTR.

Earlier studies have indicated that the first one or two

minutes, or about 100 words, of a person's verbal output

typifies that person's verbal behavior (Fairbanks, 1924,

p. 24; Jordan & Powers, 1978, p. 294). By studying word

frequencies, researchers may hypothesize about individual

and group language norms (Bradac, Konsky, & Davies, 1976,

p. 71; Johnson, 1944, p. 3).

For analysis of the research hypotheses, the sub-

jects were grouped according to their relationship to the

three independent variables: Communication apprehension

scores (PRCA), vocabulary scores, and camera condition

(either testifying with the camera or with no camera in

the courtroom). The following statistical null hypotheses

were examined:

H1: The presence of the television camera in the
courtroom has no significant effect on the
subject's TTR, MWL, AWF, TAT, or TWR of
testimony when adjusting for verbal ability
communication apprehension.

H2: The verbal ability of the subject has no
significant effect on the TTR, MWL, AWF,
TAT, or TWR of testimony when adjusting
for the presence of the camera and com-
munication apprehension.

H3: The subject's measured level of communica-
tion apprehension has no significant effect
on the TTR, MWL, AWF, TAT, or TWR of testi-
mony when adjusting for verbal ability and
the presence of the camera.

An analysis of covariance was used to test the

relative impact of each independent variable upon the

dependent variables of this study. Due to unequal cell

sizes and the existence of ordinal and interval values

for two of the independent variables (communication

apprehension and vocabulary), an analysis of covariance

was chosen to evaluate the first three hypotheses. As

opposed to the analysis of variance, analysis of covariance

considers the relative values of the ordinally and

intervally-scaled independent variables of this study,

thus more clearly indicating the effect of the nominal

variable (camera condition) upon the witness's verbal

output (Agresti & Agresti, 1979, pp. 458, 459).

H4: The variables--camera condition, verbal
ability, and communication apprehension--
exhibit no interaction effects when sub-
jects testify in the courtroom.

Both an analysis of variance for unbalanced data and

an analysis of covariance was used to test for interaction

among the three variables--camera condition, verbal

ability, and communication apprehension. The ANOVA for

unbalanced data controls for the unequal cell sizes and

indicates the possibility of differing slopes of the

regression lines, thus indicating that two variables may

interact to produce the measured difference in witness

response (SAS, 1979, p. 242).

The courtroom television camera alone may or may not

produce a significant change in the verbal output of the

witness. The process of analysis presented in this chapter

seeks to assess either positive or negative effects of

the television camera on a trial witness while considering

and controlling for the possible effects of the witness's

normal level of communication apprehension and the ability

of the witness clearly to verbalize while testifying.


1. Gerbner, G. Dean of the Annenberg School of Com-
munication, University of Pennsylvania, Personal
communication, May 8, 1981.

2. Hirschhorn, J. Attorney for the defendant to
Chandler v. Florida case heard before the U.S.
Supreme Court. Personal communication, April 24,

3. The videotape used in this research was produced by
and used with the permission of the Editorial
Office of the Institute of Food and Agricultural
Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville.

4. The Vocabulary Test for High School Students and
College Freshmen by Arthur Traxler was used in this
research with the express, written permission of
Bobbs-Merrill Company.

5. Computing was done utilizing the facilities of the
Northeast Regional Data Center of the State Univer-
sity System of Florida located on the campus of the
University of Florida in Gainesville.



This chapter presents the tabulated results of the

communication apprehension test, the pre-experimental

questionnaire, and the post-experimental questionnaire.

Also reported are the mean scores of the dependent measures

(type-token ratio--TTR, mean word length--MWL, average

word frequency--AWF, total adjusted testimony--TAT, and

trivial word ratio--TWR). Finally, statistical findings

in response to the study's four hypotheses are reviewed.

Self-Report Findings

Each subject completed the PRCA instrument approxi-

mately two weeks before participating in the courtroom

phase of the experiment. The highest PRCA score obtained

from the 58 subjects was 104 (high apprehensive), while

the lowest score was 44. In developing the PRCA,

McCroskey (1978) used 25 questions with the highest

possible score being 125 and the lowest possible score

25. McCroskey found the mean score to vary between 73

and 75 in studies using over 12,000 college students and

4,000 adults (p. 201). The mean score for the subjects

in this study was 73.5, with 23 subjects scoring above the

mean and 35 scoring at the mean or below. The 32 subjects

randomly placed in the camera experimental situation had

a mean PRCA score of 71.16, while the 26 subjects in the

no-camera-condition averaged 76.39, thus no statistically

significant difference existed (.80 >p > .50) between the

two groups in relation to their normal communication appre-

hension levels. The mean PRCA score obtained in this

study served as a dividing point between high and low

apprehensive subjects.

Pre-Experimental Questionnaire

The Traxler vocabulary test comprised the first section

of the pre-experimental questionnaire administered immedi-

ately after the subjects viewed the videotape of the simu-

lated crime. In the development of the vocabulary test,

the scores for the 50th percentile ranged between 35 and

36 for college freshmen taking the test (Traxler, 1964,

p. 9). The mean score on the vocabulary test for all sub-

jects in this study was 33.21, with a range of 45 (high)

to 14 (low). Subjects placed in the camera-condition (where

the camera was present during testimony) averaged 34.84

on the test while subjects in the no-camera-condition

(where no camera was in the courtroom during testimony)

averaged 31.19 (see Table 1). Thus, no statistically Z

Table 1. Camera and No-Camera Group Mean Scores for the
Independent Variables Communication Apprehen-
sion (CA) and Vocabulary Proficiency (VOCAB).

Situation Level Level Scores Scores

High High 94.2 38.5
Low 86.0 23.5
Camera ----------------------------------------

Low High 61.1 39.9
Low 54.5 26.3

High High* (100.0) (45.0)
Low 93.4 28.1
No-camera ---------------------------------------

Low High* 61.2 37.2
Low 66.8 25.0

*Only one subject in this cell.

significant difference (.20> p > .10) in vocabulary scores

existed-between the camera group and the no-camera group.

On the basis of the results of the PRCA scores and

the vocabulary scores, subjects were divided into eight

groups. There were two camera situations (with and without

the camera present), two levels of CA (high and low in

each camera situation), and two levels of vocabulary pro-

ficiency (a high and low vocabulary group within each

CA group).

Section Two of the pre-experimental questionnaire

contained a 16-item attitude survey. The first nine ques-

tions attempted to assess the subjects' attitudes toward

our judicial system, and the remaining seven questions

assessed the subject's attitudes toward the newsmedia.

The items contained in this survey were constructed by the

experimenter. The Kendall tau b test of association was

used to assess the relationship of positively and nega-

tively phrased forms of the statements. All positive and

negative pairs of the statements were found to be asso-

ciated with probability of at least p < .01.. This section

of the questionnaire was included primarily to provide the

experimenter information on the subjects' general attitudes

toward the two entities (the judicial system and the news

nedia) germane to this study. However, even though the

results of the survey were not used to assist in inter-

preting a dependent variable in this study, the results

may help explain some of the other findings (see Appendix

H for survey results).

Post-Experimental Questionnaire

Immediately after testifying in the courtroom, sub-

jects completed a questionnaire containing four open-

ended questions and 14 Likert-type statements adapted

from the PRCA. The four open-ended questions asked the

subjects if they had perceived any distractions while

testifying, the nature of any distractions observed, the

effect of nervousness on their ability to perceive dis-

tractions, if such were perceived, and their perception

of the study's purpose. The experimenter reviewed each

subject's responses to these four questions during the

debriefing session in an effort to clarify the meaning of

unclear written responses.

In reply to the question asking subjects if they had

observed any distractions, 19 subjects indicated that some-

thing had distracted them while testifying. Nine of the 32

subjects in the camera-condition noted distractions, while

10 of the subjects in the no-camera-condition reported

being distracted.

Three of the nine distraction-reporting subjects in

the camera-condition indicated the camera was the primary

distractor while one subject named both the camera and the

person operating it as the distracting factor. The person

in the audience who operated the camera was identified

as the distracting factor by two additional camera-con-

dition subjects. The person who sat in the audience

portion of the courtroom during the no-camera-condition

was mentioned as the source of distraction by five sub-

jects in that situation.

Other factors mentioned by subjects as distractions

and their frequency of mention included: The tape-recorder

(2), the unfamiliar atmosphere of the courtroom (3), some-

one moving outside the courtroom (1), the bailiff clearing

his throat (1), extraneous noise outside the courtroom

(1), the presence of the microphone (1), an unexplained

sense of nervousness (1), and the "nice-looking" attorney

(1), Some subjects mentioned more than one source of dis-

traction, thus explaining the larger number of distracting

factors than persons distracted.

Two of the three subjects who named the camera speci-

fically as a distracting agent indicated the presence of

the camera hindered their ability to testify. All three

subjects disturbed by the camera felt the distraction

affected the content of their answers.

Five of the nine subjects mentioning distractions in

the camera-condition were classified "high apprehensive"


with PRCA scores ranging from 83 to 103. Four of the nine

subjects were in the high vocabulary group.

In the no-camera-condition, two of the 10 subjects

distracted were high apprehensive and low vocabulary.

The majority of the subjects (8) distracted in the no-

camera-condition were low apprehensive. Five of those

eight were in the high vocabulary group (see Table 2).

Table 2. Subjects Reporting Distractions in the Court-

Number of
Camera CA VOCAB Subjects
Situation Level Level Distracted

High High 4
Low 1

Low High 4
Low 0

High High 0
Low 2
No-camera ----------------

Low High 5
Low 3

In summary, 28% (9 of 12) of the camera-condition

subjects reported distractions) in the courtroom while

testifying. In the no-camera condition 39% (10 of 26) of

the subjects reported distractionss. Of the nine dis-

tracted in the camera-condition, only three reported the

camera as the sole source of distraction.

Section Two of the post-experimental questionnaire

compared 10 selected statements from the PRCA with 10

adapted forms of the statements to reflect the specific

situation of the courtroom. The items selected from the

long-form PRCA for this specific application are similar

in nature to the short-form PRCA (McCroskey, 1978, p. 201).

The mean composite score for all items adapted to the

specific courtroom situation was 2.64 (with 1.0 indicating

low apprehension), while the composite mean for the similar

items on the PRCA was 3.08. However, only five of the 10

pairs yielded statistically significant (p < .05) levels

of association (using the Kendall tau b test of associa-


The final question of the post-experimental question-

naire asked subjects their perceptions of the study's pur-

pose. In an effort to verify the meaning of responses to

this question, the experimenter specifically asked each

subject to explain their responses in detail. A total of

six subjects stated the purpose of the study correctly on

the questionnaire. Five of the six had experienced the

camera-condition while testifying; three of these five

subjects indicated they were distracted while testifying.

Two of the six subjects indicated they determined the

purpose of the study only after completing the preceding

parts of the final questionnaire.

Dependent Measures

The five dependent measures examined in this study

included the type-token ratio (TTR), the mean word length

(MWL), the average word frequency (AWF), the total ad-

justed testimony (TAT), and the trivial word ratio (TWR).

The mean TTR for the entire subject sample was 0.592.

The mean TTR for the subjects in the camera-condition was

0.5919, while the mean for no-camera-condition subjects

was 0.5915. Thus, the verbal output as measured by the

TTR revealed no statistically significant difference be-

tween the groups of subjects in the two camera situations

(t = .305, df = 57, .80 > p > .50). Subjects reporting

low levels of CA had higher TTR scores than high appre-

hensives (0.600 to 0.579), but the difference was insigni-

ficant (t = .395, df 57, .80 > p > .50). The difference

in TTR scores among high and low vocabulary subjects

(0.603 to 0.577) was also insignificant (t = .495, df = 57,

.80 >p > .50).

The testimony of the 58 subjects in this study had an

average MWL of 4.32. No statistically significant dif-

ferences existed in the scores of the various independent

variable subgroups. No-camera subjects had a slightly

higher MWL than camera witnesses (4.33 to 4.31). Sub-

jects reporting low levels of CA had a higher MWL than

higher apprehensive subjects (4.34 to 4.29). Individuals

with higher vocabulary scores also had a slightly higher

MWL than those subjects scoring lower on the vocabulary

test (4.33 to 4.31).

The mean AWF for the entire subject sample was 9.54 with

no significant differences among subgroups of witnesses. Sub-

jects repeating less words, thus recording a higher AWF were

camera-condition subjects (9.64), low apprehensives (9.84),

and high vocabulary subjects (10.11). These averages

compare to 9.43 for no-camera subjects, 9.10 for high

apprehensives, and 8.85 for low vocabulary individuals.

The adjusted testimony length of subjects varied from

subgroup to subgroup, but again the differences were statisti-

cally insignificant. The mean TAT for all subjects was

553.4 words. Subgroups yielding the longest testimony were

the no-camera subjects (558.5 to 549.2 for camera subjects)'

low apprehensives (638.1 to 424.4 for high apprehensives),

and subjects.with high vocabulary scores (625.9 to 464.0

for low vocabulary individuals).

The ratio of trivial words to the total number of

words in subjects' testimony also exhibited no significant

differences from group to group. The overall TWR was 0.188.

Unlike the other dependent variables reported, a lower

TWR score would indicate more diverse, complex testimony.

The no-camera group had a slightly lower TWR than the

camera group (0.186 to 0.189). Virtually no difference

existed between high and low apprehensives (0.1877 to

0.1881). High vocabulary subjects had a lower mean TWR

(0.183) than low vocabulary subjects (0.194) (see Table 3).

Table 3. Group Mean Scores of Dependent Variables.

Situation Level Level TTR MWL AWF TAT TWR

High High .588 4.27 9.97 467.5 .179
Low .585 4.33 9.07 432.0 .198
Low High .598 4.32 9.97 622.8 .189
Low .585 4.35 8.67 553.3 .195

High High* (.570) (4.40) (9.50) (526.0) (.176)
Low .570 4.27 8.56 383.9 .189
Low High .628 4.40 10.51 748.2 .176
Low .577 4.33 9.24 570.2 .199

*Only one subject in this cell.

One subject group registered the best mean scores

on all five dependent variables. The low-apprehensive,

high-verbal, no-camera group yielded a mean TTR score of

0.628, a MWL of 4.40, an AWF of 10.51, a TAT of 748.2,

and a TWR of 0.176. The lowest TTR was produced by the

no-camera, low-apprehensive, low-vocabulary group (0.570).

The lowest MWL (4.27) was registered in both the camera

and no-camera high-apprehensive groups. The camera-

condition, low-apprehensive, low-vocabulary group produced

the lowest AWF (8.67). The lowest TAT (383.9) was pro-

duced by the no-camera, high-apprehensive, low-vocabulary

group. The camera-condition, high-apprehensive, low-

vocabulary group yielded the highest TWR (0.198).

No significant differences were recorded in the

scores of male and female subjects. Males had slightly

higher scores on TTR (0.613 to 0.481), MWL (4.42 to 4.18),

AWF (10.22 to 9.22), and TAT (622.1 to 419.9). However,

females used a slightly smaller ratio of trivial words

than males (0.183 to 0.188).

By examining the mean scores, little difference can

be observed among the various levels of the subjects as

grouped according to the independent variables. However,

generally, the higher (indicating more verbally complex)

scores in relation to the three dependent variables were

produced by the groups scoring higher on the vocabulary


Hypotheses Test Results

The first hypothesis tested concerned the effect of

the camera on the dependent variables:

H1: The presence of the television camera in
the courtroom has no significant effect
(p < .05) on the subject's TTR, MWL, AWF,
TAT, or TWR contained in testimony when
adjusting for the effects of CA and vocabulary

Using an analysis of covariance test to evaluate

the first hypothesis, the addition of the television

camera to the courtroom situation accounts for a statis-

tically insignificant amount of the variance in the de-

pendent variable TTR (p < .13); similarly with the MWL,

the camera accounts for little variance in the scores

(p < .98). The camera also appears to have little effect

on AWF scores (p < .64), TAT scores (p < .41), or TWR

scores (p < .61). Therefore, when considered alone, the

presence of the camera appears to have a statistically

insignificant effect on verbal behavior. Thus, the first

hypothesis can not be rejected at the .05 level (see

Table 4).

Table 4. The Effect of the Television Camera on Verbal

Variable F (1, 57) P <

Type-token ratio 2.33 0.133

Mean word length 0.00 0.976

Average word frequency 0.23 0.637

Total adjusted testimony 0.70 0.406

Trivial word ratio 0.26 0.611

The second hypothesis tested concerned the effect of

the subject's verbal ability (as measured by the Traxler

vocabulary test) on the dependent variables.

H2: The vocabulary proficiency of the subject
has no significant effect (p < .05) on the
TTR, MWL, AWF, TAT, or TWR within a sub-
ject's testimony when considering the
possible effects of the presence of the
camera and the level of the subject's CA.

The measured effect of a subject's vocabulary pro-

ficiency on the resulting TTR of the testimony was insigni-

ficant (p < .20) when the presence of the camera and the

subject's level of CA were considered. When examining

the effect of vocabulary proficiency on MWL, the effect

was also insignificant (p < .49). Vocabulary proficiency

had an insignificant effect on TAT (p < .08) and TWR

(p < .99). However, the subject's verbal ability appears

to significantly affect the AWF (p < .04) (see Appendix I).

Considering these findings, the second hypothesis can be

rejected at the .05 level only for the dependent variable

AWF (see Table 5).

Table 5. The Effect of Vocabulary Proficiency on Verbal

Variable F (1, 57) P<

Type-token ratio 1.68 0.200

Mean word length 0.48 0.493

Average word frequency 4.38 0.041*

Total adjusted testimony 3.11 0.083

Trivial word ratio 0.00 0.990

*Significant at the .05 level.

The third hypothesis tested the effect of CA on the

verbal behavior of witnesses.

H3: The subject's measured level of CA has no
significant effect (p < .05) on the TTR,
MWL, AWR, TAT, or TWR of the subject's
testimony when regulating possible effects
of the camera's presence and the subject's
vocabulary proficiency.

When adjusting for the possible effects of verbal

ability and the presence of the camera, the subject's CA

accounts for an insignificant amount of the variance in

the TTR (p < .09). CA also has an insignificant effect on

MWL (p < .58), AWF (p < .30), and THR (p < .32). CA does

appear to have a significant effect on TAT (p < .001)

(see Appendix I). Because of these findings, the third

hypothesis can be rejected only for TAT (see Table 6).

Table 6. Effect of Communication Apprehension on Verbal

Variable F (1, 57) p <

Type-token ratio 2.95 0.092

Mean word length 0.31 0.581

Average word frequency 1.08 0.303

Total adjusted testimony 12.42 0.001*

Trivial word ratio 1.00 0.322

*Significant at the .05 level.

The fourth hypothesis sought to test for possible

interaction effects among independent variables.

H4; The variables (camera situation, verbal
ability, and CA) exhibit no interaction
effects when subjects testify in the

An analysis of variance for unbalanced data (designs

yielding uneven cell sizes) revealed no significant inter-

actions among the independent variables. In fact, a least

square means comparison indicated only two groups of the

eight to be significantly different at the .05 level.

Both groups were in the no-camera condition. The no-camera,

low-apprehensive, high-vocabulary group had significantly

different mean TTR scores (p < .02) than the no-camera,

high-apprehensive, low-vocabulary group.

Using an analysis of covariance to assess possible

interaction effects revealed a possible trend toward inter-

action when considering TTR scores. An interaction be-

tween the camera situation and CA yielded a probability

of p < .16. Similarly, the AWF scores were affected by

the interaction of the camera situation and CA (p < .04)

(see Appendix I). No other interactions among variables.

approached significance. Thus, the fourth hypothesis may

be rejected at the .05 level only for an interaction effect

between the camera situation and CA in relation to the

dependent variable AWF (see Table 7).

Table 7. Interaction Effect of the Camera Situation and
Communication Apprehension on Verbal Behavior.

Variable F (1, 57) P <

Type-token ratio 2.07 0.156

Mean word length 0.01 0.904

Average word frequency 4.24 0.044*

Total adjusted testimony 0.35 0.554

Trivial word ratio 0.00 0.962

*Significant at the .05 level.


By dividing the subjects into two groups (high and low)

in relation to each of the two variables, CA and vocabulary

proficiency, the researcher's ability to detect significant

differences between groups decreases as the distinction

between groups decreases. However, as evidenced by the

mean scores reported for the five dependent variables, no

statistically significant differences existed among the

mean scores of the eight groups of subjects.

The presence of the camera, when considered as a

single factor, had little or no effect on the verbal be-

havior of witnesses as far as possible effects can be

measured statistically. However, the camera situation

and CA appeared to interact to create a significant effect

on the AWF of subjects.

In this experimental situation, CA, as an isolated

factor, had a statistically significant effect on the

witnesses' length of testimony--the higher the subject's

CA score the shorter the testimony. When considering TTR

scores, CA approached a significant effect. As might be

expected by the very nature of AWF, vocabulary proficiency

had a statistically significant effect on this dependent




The question of the television camera's effects

on courtroom trial participants has not been answered.

with any real degree of certainty for almost 30 years,

since the American Bar Association included television in

its prohibition of camera trial coverage in 1952. Through

this study, an effort was made to continue.the process

of researching the effects of the television camera on

courtroom communication, and specifically, its effects

on the content, or lexical nature and diversity, of wit-

ness testimony.

The first conclusion to be drawn from this study is

that the presence of the television camera, in this

experimental situation, had no perceivable effect on

the overall lexical nature or diversity of witnesses.

The research hypothesis suggested the presence of the

camera would enhance the verbal behavior of witnesses.

This study found no evidence to support that hypothesis

directly. The mean TTR and AWF scores were slightly higher

for camera than no-camera subjects (TTR 0.5919 to 0.5915,


AWF 9.64 to 9.43), but they were not statistically signifi-

cant. No-camera subjects used slightly longer words than

camera subjects (MWL 4.33 to 4.31), but the difference be-

tween the groups did not reflect statistical significance.

It should be noted that the higher mean vocabulary scores

for the camera group may explain the differences found

among these dependent measures.

The courtroom camera may affect the testimony of a

particular segment of the population. The high-appre-

hensive, high-vocabulary camera group reported three of

the four instances of actual camera distraction. Although

the dependent measures for this group were not significantly

different from the study's population as a whole, the

perceived distraction of the camera may have affected

this group's ability to testify in some manner undetected

by the dependent measures. Hoyt (1977) discovered the

presence of the camera enhanced the quality of subjects'

responses, but the findings of this study neither conform

nor refute his results.

The statistically significant finding that an inter-

action exists between the presence of the camera and the

individual's level of communication apprehension tends

to support the conclusion that highly apprehensive,

articulate individuals may experience distraction caused

by their perception of the camera's presence, yet this

perceived distraction may not be reflected in the lexical

nature of their testimony. As suggested by Jordan and

Powers (1978), high apprehensives may be more aware of

the stressful situation and attempt to adjust their be-

havior to approximate that of low apprehensives. The high

apprehensives in the camera-condition may have been more

cognizant of various distracting factors in the environ-


Eight of the 19 subjects reporting distractions during

their periods of testifying indicated the distractions

either hindered their testifying or caused them to alter

the content of their testimony. This agrees somewhat with

earlier responses to item 25 of the PRCA, "I would enjoy

presenting a speech on a local television show." The

mean score of all subjects on this item was 3.56, yet in

the post-experimental questionnaire, when asked if they

would answer questions in the same manner if their court

appearance was being televised to the Gainesville com-

munity, the mean score of all subjects was a more positive

2.33. This may indicate that having experienced the

courtroom situation, witnesses react to a more concrete

stimulus more positively than to the abstract possibility

.of appearing on television. This difference in mean

scores may also be the expression of relief after ex-

periencing a stressful situation.

The second research hypothesis suggested that vocabu-

lary proficiency would have a greater effect on the lexical

nature and diversity within the testimony than either com-

munication apprehension or the presence of the television

camera. The findings of this study only partially support

this hypothesis.

A stepwise regression procedure (SAS, 1979, p. 391)

used to measure the relative effect of each independent

variable revealed vocabulary proficiency the best pre-

dictor variable for MWL and AWF. Vocabulary was the second

most important predictor for TTR and TAT. Although the

stepwise procedure indicated vocabulary as an important

variable in predicting the dependent variable scores, the

vocabulary proficiency accounted for only between 1.5% to

9% of the total variance recorded in this study's dependent

measures. Thus, vocabulary proficiency had more effect on

two dependent variables than either camera situation or CA,

but accounted for a relatively small amount of the differ-

ence in subjects' responses. A conclusion that may be

drawn from this data is that the three independent varia-

bles leave much of the variance in TTR, MWL, AWF, TAT,

and TWR scores unaccounted for, thus suggesting that some

variable(s) not reported in this study may explain better

the differences in subject response. A second conclusion

might be that each level of the independent variables

should be more precise.

The third research hypothesis postulated that the

CA level accounted for more variation in witnesses' lexical

nature and diversity than the presence of the television

camera. As with the second hypothesis, the data resulting

from this experiment only partially supports this assumption.

The stepwise regression procedure indicated CA was

the best predictor variable (of the variables included in

this study) for TTR and TAT scores. Although statistically

insignificant for TTR, CA had a significant effect

(p <.001) on TAT scores. In both TTR and TAT the effect

of CA was negative, i.e., the higher the CA score, the

lower the TTR and TAT scores. Thus the conclusion that

witnesses with lower CA levels would provide the more

complex, complete testimony than more highly apprehensive


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