Soltani, Zohreh (2018-12). Investigating the Persuasiveness of Forensic Information Models for Jurors in Construction Disputes. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon

abstract

  • Effective communication has always been challenging in the process of resolving disputes. The seriousness of this difficulty is exacerbated when a jury with little or no knowledge of construction engages in dispute resolution trials. Forensic Information Modeling (FIM) is an advanced BIM technique and specialized for forensic investigations. FIM combines the inspection data required for forensic investigation with a three-dimensional computer model. This techniques was used, for example, to explain a bridge collapse in Minneapolis. FIM is expected to allow forensic engineers to explain to a jury vividly and interactively the data collected or the cause of the accident analyzed. However, there is no evidence that FIM is actively being applied to settle construction disputes in courts. Due to the severe consequences of risky decisions in litigation and the uncertainties associated with the creation and use of FIM, attorneys may not be active in the use of this technology despite the potential benefits of FIM. This study attempts to demonstrate experimentally how effectively FIM could explain to a jury the results of a hypothetical forensic investigation of a structure damaged by fire. More specifically, this study seeks to identify how the visual tools used to describe forensic investigations of structures damaged by fire could make a difference in enhancing jury understanding. To design this experiment, eight forensic engineers and four construction lawyers were interviewed. Using the data obtained from interviews, an FIM model was produced that describes a fire in a virtual pump station. The experiment involved 120 students from Texas A&M University. These students were randomly divided into four groups. Each group was asked to answer questions designed to assess how well they understood the fire that occurred at the pump station after watching one of the four videos including: o A video explaining the plaintiff's argument using PowerPoint o A video explaining the plaintiff's argument using FIM o A video explaining the defendant's argument using PowerPoint o A video explaining the defendant's argument using FIM According to the statistical analysis, using FIM assisted students participating in this experiment to significantly have a better comprehension of the plaintiff's arguments, to be able to visualize the plaintiff's arguments easier, and to become persuaded to support the plaintiff in this dispute at a 95 percent confidence interval. However, when watching the defendant's claim video, using FIM compared to the PowerPoint-based presentation did not affect the participants' understanding of the argument, their ability to visualize the case, nor their persuasion to support the defendant. The inconsistencies in the findings of this case-based study might be rooted in the difference between the content of the arguments made by each argumentative side. According to the results, FIM seems to have a positive impact on the persuasiveness of the argument when it is more technical and unfamiliar to the participants when considering their background and experience. Otherwise, using BIM to explain the forensic findings in a dispute does not seem very effective. In other words, when the argument is compressible for the audience, a three-dimensional presentation is not more persuasive than using 2D CAD drawings in PowerPoint slides.
  • Effective communication has always been challenging in the process of resolving disputes. The seriousness of this difficulty is exacerbated when a jury with little or no knowledge of construction engages in dispute resolution trials.
    Forensic Information Modeling (FIM) is an advanced BIM technique and specialized for forensic investigations. FIM combines the inspection data required for forensic investigation with a three-dimensional computer model. This techniques was used, for example, to explain a bridge collapse in Minneapolis.
    FIM is expected to allow forensic engineers to explain to a jury vividly and interactively the data collected or the cause of the accident analyzed. However, there is no evidence that FIM is actively being applied to settle construction disputes in courts. Due to the severe consequences of risky decisions in litigation and the uncertainties associated with the creation and use of FIM, attorneys may not be active in the use of this technology despite the potential benefits of FIM.
    This study attempts to demonstrate experimentally how effectively FIM could explain to a jury the results of a hypothetical forensic investigation of a structure damaged by fire. More specifically, this study seeks to identify how the visual tools used to describe forensic investigations of structures damaged by fire could make a difference in enhancing jury understanding. To design this experiment, eight forensic engineers and four construction lawyers were interviewed. Using the data obtained from interviews, an FIM model was produced that describes a fire in a virtual pump station.

    The experiment involved 120 students from Texas A&M University. These students were randomly divided into four groups. Each group was asked to answer questions designed to assess how well they understood the fire that occurred at the pump station after watching one of the four videos including:
    o A video explaining the plaintiff's argument using PowerPoint
    o A video explaining the plaintiff's argument using FIM
    o A video explaining the defendant's argument using PowerPoint
    o A video explaining the defendant's argument using FIM

    According to the statistical analysis, using FIM assisted students participating in this experiment to significantly have a better comprehension of the plaintiff's arguments, to be able to visualize the plaintiff's arguments easier, and to become persuaded to support the plaintiff in this dispute at a 95 percent confidence interval. However, when watching the defendant's claim video, using FIM compared to the PowerPoint-based presentation did not affect the participants' understanding of the argument, their ability to visualize the case, nor their persuasion to support the defendant.
    The inconsistencies in the findings of this case-based study might be rooted in the difference between the content of the arguments made by each argumentative side. According to the results, FIM seems to have a positive impact on the persuasiveness of the argument when it is more technical and unfamiliar to the participants when considering their background and experience. Otherwise, using BIM to explain the forensic findings in a dispute does not seem very effective. In other words, when the argument is compressible for the audience, a three-dimensional presentation is not more persuasive than using 2D CAD drawings in PowerPoint slides.

publication date

  • December 2018