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2010 in review: Aging brains, money, happiness, and a bris exception

Friday, December 31, 2010
posted by Douglas Keene

As trial consultants, we are always on the lookout for new nuggets of useful information. Some of them are true wisdom and some… let’s just say ‘not so much’. Generally, we share only the really good stuff with you but sometimes we regress a bit. And this is one of those times. Hang on!

Despite the disturbing news out earlier this year that middle age now begins at 35 and multiple other (obviously erroneous) sources telling us that aging brains are simply not up to par—there is good news for those of us on the other side of 30 (even those of us way on the other side!). The development of face memory doesn’t reach it’s peak until our early 30s.  I bet this is why those of us well on the other side of 30 ponder ‘that person looks familiar’ more often than those under 30. We simply remember more.

2010 also brought us the disconcerting news that money can’t buy happiness (or fidelity) unless it’s above a certain amount of money. Turns out it also can’t buy you sensitivity to others. Members of the ‘upper class’ (rich people) have a much harder time reading/intuiting the emotions of others.

We’ve done an ongoing post topic here at The Jury Room on how hard it is to be a woman. And there are certainly lots of reasons for that. But we’re ending up 2010 with a ray of hope. Women often report ongoing instances of sexist statements/communications in the workplace. Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that women who confront sexist statements in the workplace feel more competent and more capable.

And on that note, we want to applaud Judge Kimba Wood from the Southern District of New York who responded to a male attorney requesting time away if his daughter gave birth to a boy. Judge Wood made a ‘bris exception’ and countered with what would happen if a daughter was born:

“Mr. Epstein will be permitted to attend the bris, in the joyous event that a son is born. But the Court would like to balance the scales. If a daughter is born, there will be a public celebration in Court, with readings from poetry celebrating girls and women.”

Gervais, S. J.,, Hillard, A. &, & Vescio, T. K. (2010). Confronting sexism: The role of relationship orientation and gender. Sex Roles, 63, 463-474

Kraus MW, Côté S, & Keltner D (2010). Social class, contextualism, and empathic accuracy. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS, 21 (11), 1716-23 PMID: 20974714

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