Follow me on Twitter

Blog archive

We Participate In:

ABA Journal Blawg 100!







Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Login

Simple Jury Persusasion: Make them sad and they can’t be mad

Friday, November 19, 2010
posted by Douglas Keene

An accepted truism is that a sad jury awards lower damages from a disempowered sense of hopelessness, and an angry jury awards higher to ‘send a message’. It is never good for the plaintiff when a case concludes with sad and hopeless jurors heading off to deliberate. You end up with “It’s horrible but it’s just one of those things” sorts of reactions from jurors that sound a death knell to hopes of financial recovery.  Often, liability is clear, but their sense of hopelessness has undermined the damages awards.

New research examines this issue by looking at what they call “emotional blunting”. The authors look at how anger experienced first blunts the experience of sadness and how sadness experienced first blunts the experience of anger. This may, as they point out, have direct implications for the courtroom.

A defense lawyer may attempt to elicit sadness in a jury. In so doing, not only could the appraisal tendencies of sadness result in jurors experiencing less anger when considering the defendant’s actions, but also (and more importantly) the blunted anger experience likely would lead the jury to hold the defendant less responsible for his or her actions and thus to recommend a lesser penalty than it otherwise would. Alternatively, the prosecutor could elicit anger in the jury, which could subsequently prevent the jury from feeling sadness and acknowledging the situational factors associated with the case. This blunted sadness could thereby cause the jury to hold an innocent victim wrongfully accountable for a crime. (p 4)

Following several pretty complex analyses of experiments, the authors conclude this:

If you are sad and see that sadness as caused by external events, anger over the events is blunted and you are less punitive.

If you are angry and justify that anger as being caused by the actions of another, subsequent sadness is blunted.

Put another way: how much emotional blunting occurs (and therefore how punitive you are) appears to be a function of whether you attribute blame to a ‘situation’ (e.g., something that happened) or a ‘person’ (e.g., someone caused this to happen).

To achieve anger—put a face on it.

Winterich KP, Han S, & Lerner JS (2010). Now That I’m Sad, It’s Hard to Be Mad: The Role of Cognitive Appraisals in Emotional Blunting. Personality and social psychology bulletin PMID: 20876386

ResearchBlogging.org

Share


14 Responses to “Simple Jury Persusasion: Make them sad and they can’t be mad”

  1. Legal Aid Solicitors says:

    Spot on. It’s great to see in-depth analysis of techniques to make the court room work for you. If you go before a judge or jury without a plan, you’re more likely to lose your case or end up giving your client a poor result. Legal Aid Solicitors in Edinburgh.

  2. LawCloud says:

    RT @steigerlaw: Simple Jury Persusasion: Make them sad and they can’t be mad http://bit.ly/bkeqWX

  3. McSporrans says:

    Great post. Good to know that some firms are considering such reactions by juries as it can mean a major difference in damages being awarded.

  4. Simon Knight says:

    Simple #Jury #Persusasion: Make them sad and they can’t be mad #psychology http://icio.us/taj04g

  5. RT @steigerlaw: Simple Jury Persusasion: Make them sad and they can’t be mad http://bit.ly/bkeqWX

  6. Charlie says:

    RT @steigerlaw: Simple Jury Persusasion: Make them sad and they can’t be mad http://bit.ly/bkeqWX

  7. RT @steigerlaw: Simple Jury Persusasion: Make them sad and they can’t be mad http://bit.ly/bkeqWX

  8. WardblawG says:

    RT @steigerlaw: Simple Jury Persusasion: Make them sad and they can’t be mad http://bit.ly/bkeqWX

  9. RT @steigerlaw: Simple Jury Persusasion: Make them sad and they can’t be mad http://bit.ly/bkeqWX

  10. RT @steigerlaw: Simple Jury Persusasion: Make them sad and they can’t be mad http://bit.ly/bkeqWX

  11. Simple Jury Persusasion: Make them sad and they can’t be mad http://bit.ly/bkeqWX

  12. ken_homer says:

    RT @Kevindoylejones: jury persuasion: make em sad and they can't be mad. mad equals higher damage awards http://bit.ly/atpLF1

  13. jury persuasion: make em sad and they can't be mad. mad equals higher damage awards http://bit.ly/atpLF1

  14. [...] there would not be so many 5-4 decisions.Fetching read for those wanting to master trial techniques.www.keenetrial.com/blog/2010/11/19/simple-jury-persusasion-make-them-sad-and-they-cant-be-mad/?utm_s… Posted by Collin Walke, Esq. at 5:54 PM Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter [...]

Leave a Reply