Outsmarting your biases & helping jurors outsmart theirs too
Emily Pronin is a Psychology professor at Princeton. She studies how we tend to see ourselves as different than others and how that leads us to judge ourselves as better than others to our own detriment. Recently, Dr. Pronin did a brief interview with the Washington Post on how our self-awareness blind spots lead us to make poor (or biased) decisions. The article itself was on investment decisions but it has much to teach us about litigation advocacy.
What Dr. Pronin says is that even when we are told about “blind spot biases”, we continue to deny they exist—at least in us! So you can’t simply use witnesses to give examples of this sort of bias because jurors will continue to believe you don’t mean them. Jurors (like all of us) will believe that they are more observant and reliable than the person toward whom they feel critical. You may want to take a leaf from Dr. Pronin’s book. She had her students (who didn’t retain self-awareness of blind spot bias with a lecture alone) read a brief article from 2005 by Gavin Mandel. The article (two pages long) is titled “Unaware of Our Unawareness” and it’s a terrific brief read that you won’t forget. Which is the point.
There are many ways you can educate jurors. We’ve blogged before about ‘third person effect’ and the ‘blind spot bias’ is another variation of that effect. Educating yourself about the ‘third person’ effect or the ‘blind spot bias’ will help you to effectively educate jurors about human frailty, and how to avoid getting tricked by our own human nature.
Mandel, G. (2005). Unaware of Our Unawareness. Science, 308