Simple Jury Persuasion: Analytic or Intuitive?
According to some new research, if your case facts promote pro-religious themes or invoke pro-religious feelings, and you are plaintiff/prosecutor, you want intuitive jurors. If you are defense, you want those analytical jurors. If you weren’t thinking that far ahead, or end up with a mix of both types (the likely outcome) on your jury–you want to tailor your case narrative and case themes to resonate with both sorts (again depending on the side of the aisle).
In other words, you want to encourage the analytic to be more intuitive and encourage the intuitive to embrace the analytical. Why? Essentially, it levels the playing field. In plain English, the more analytically (e.g, rationally, logically) you think through evidence, then–the more you set aside religious beliefs–even if you are religiously devout and, even if you are already a skeptic.
In a fact is stranger than fiction move, the researchers successfully triggered analytical thought by showing research participants images of Rodin’s The Thinker and having them review text written in “hard to read fonts” [e.g., fonts smaller and in a much fainter, typewriter-style font for harder review fonts, versus enlarged and darkened for ease of review]. Both were found to increase analytical thought and reduce religious beliefs. This study has gotten tremendous attention in the popular media.
We are not as interested in the relationship between analytical thought and religious belief–as we are in the ability to promote an analytical cognitive process over an intuitive one. Intuitive thought has been found to be related to quick cognitive processing (impulsive judging) using stereotypes/heuristics as short-cuts. Analytical thought, on the other hand, promotes logic and rationality–resulting in fewer short-cuts in the decision-making process and more complete evaluation of evidence. You want to give jurors an invitation to attend carefully to the evidence presented.
When you want jurors focused analytically, and thus processing evidence carefully rather than making quick and biased conclusions based on pre-existing attitudes, beliefs, and values–consider the experimental manipulations used in this research.
You might use an illustration of Rodin’s famous sculpture on visual evidence to nudge jurors to think analytically.
Use logical/rational language. Use language like ‘thoughtful and careful review’, ‘study of evidence’, ‘serious and thorough’. Do not be seen as applying ‘spin’ to the story. Tell the story with little drama but a tight and efficient story structure. You are helping jurors to piece together what happened and providing them with the facts, evidence and data to conclude (consistent with your presentation) what actually happened.
Overall, you are encouraging the sort of thought (that would be “analytical”) that promotes evidence processing rather than quick and dirty decision-making characterized by the use of bias and stereotypes. If you want that sort of thinking process in your jurors–these researchers have pointed to a couple of (free) ways to promote it.
Gervais WM, & Norenzayan A (2012). Analytic thinking promotes religious disbelief. Science (New York, N.Y.), 336 (6080), 493-6 PMID: 22539725