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Archive for March, 2013

millenials-chart

And maybe not! If you read our blog regularly, you know we like to write about generations. (And race, and tattoos, and gender issues, and other stuff too.) So it won’t surprise you to see us peering at one of the first articles we’ve seen to say the Millennial Generation is finally beginning to form into groups after “cataclysmic events that have occurred since 2008”. Yes, we remember that blog post we wrote back in early 2012 when a marketing firm tried to convince us there were 6 (count ‘em) types of Millennials. We didn’t see that characterization as useful but this one at least has some data behind it.

According to these writers, the ongoing “Great Recession of 2008” could shape the 17-23 year olds coming of age during the Recession because they experienced “limited job opportunities, greater student loan debt, a return to their parents’ households and a delay in becoming an economic adult” in comparison with older Millennials. In other words, the writers see the recession as a “defining moment” for younger Millennials. (We’ve written a lot on generational issues and you can see our work here on the blog as well as in The Jury Expert.)

These researchers looked at the values of 350 college juniors and seniors (aged 19 to 23; 54% male, 46% female) in the US and compared them to the values of 266 older Millennials (aged 27 to 31; 54% male, 46% female) to see if a new cohort (a group within a generation) was forming. The younger Millennials and the older Millennials completed the questionnaires at the same point in time–this was not a case of having measured the values and attitudes of older Millennials a few years ago when they were aged 19-23 and then comparing them to the values of those younger Millennials who are now in that same age range. Instead, the researchers simply measured the same things in both groups of Millennials at the same point in time. In brief, the researchers wanted to see if measurable differences between the younger Millennials and older Millennials existed in a group of behavioral descriptors and values.

There were no significant differences between the younger and older Millennials on the values of having confidence, being one’s own boss and being a part of a team. There were also no differences on the behavioral measures of multitasking and hopefulness about future opportunities. Both younger and older Millennials endorsed these items positively.

However, there were differences between the older and younger Millennials as follows:

Younger Millennials see less value in “piety” as measured by religious beliefs about maintaining virginity until marriage.

Younger Millennials see less value in “thrift” as measured by whether they see saving as more important than spending. (Older Millennials endorse thrift while younger Millennials are less enamored of thrift.)

To a lesser degree, younger Millennials are less patriotic (measured by faith in country and pride in country), less political (measured by voting behavior and current involvement in politics), less green (less likely to be avid recyclers), and less worried about making mistakes in life (it might happen).

The authors do some intense factor analysis and report that there is “strong support” for the idea that a new sub-cohort is emerging.

They report that younger Millennials have more of a “live for today” attitude and are more self-centric and pleasure-seeking. While there are questions as to whether this represents a phase of life (i.e., age effect) as opposed to a true generational shift, the authors see it as indicative of a true shift although they acknowledge the younger Millennials have not yet internalized the impact of the economy on their lives. (We should note here that there was no earlier comparison of how the now older Millennials would have scored on these measures when they were the age of the younger Millennials. It’s hard to say whether what we are seeing here is a true cohort differentiation/segmentation or simple maturing on the part of young adults.)

The older Millennials, according to the authors, are facing stressful circumstances with the plummeting economy and are struggling to cope. When they came of age the economy was less daunting then it has become. They face circumstances that require them to save (unlike the younger Millennials who’ve moved back in with Mom and Dad).

As a whole, write the researchers, this generation is paying less attention to politics and are less likely to vote than older generations. (Note: The data for this study was collected in 2009 prior to the reelection of Barack Obama in 2012. Millennials represented 19% of all voters and 60% favored Obama).

It’s hard to say at this point, whether these researchers are correct in their beliefs that a new and less careful cohort is emerging as younger Millennials come of age. And it’s more than simply the miss about whether Millennials would turn out in the 2012 re-election of Barack Obama.

There is typically a large shift in what is seen as important between the ages of 18 and 25 and so we tend to think college juniors and seniors are still a bit young to have clearly formed the principles that will guide their lives. Nonetheless, this was obviously a much more rigorous effort than that engaged in by a marketing company early in 2012. We simply think we need to wait longer for the emergence of specific cohort groups within this still very young and emerging generational group.

Debevec, K, Schewe, CD, Madden, TJ, & Diamond, WD (2013). Are today’s Millennials splintering into a new generational cohort? Maybe! Journal of Consumer Behavior, 12, 20-31

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big-lieNone of us like to be lied to and we hunt for indicators of deception in the behavior of others. A dilemma occurs in our assessments of witnesses from other cultures–since social norms are culture-specific. We observe the behavior of others and make judgments as to whether they are lying according to our sense of whether they are violating social norms for no apparent reason. And when we don’t understand that cultural norms may be different for the speaker than they are for us, we are prone to make errors in our judgments as to their duplicity.

And it isn’t just us! I traveled to France and Germany a number of times to prepare witnesses who were going to testify in American courtrooms on sensitive issues related to whether they had designed dangerously defective products. As I got to know them, I learned that their beliefs about Americans in general were informed by bad movies, worse television, and unflattering news coverage. They were understandably terrified of testifying in front of their conception of “Americans”. I had to teach them about American courtrooms, the trial process, and how to understand juror decision-making. The trial process in the United States is very different from what happens in France, Germany, or (in civil trials) anywhere else on earth. Knowing what to expect helped them to diminish their anxiety as we began witness preparation processes.

Essentially, the Australian researchers we are talking about today did much the same thing. They wanted to see if educating people about cultural differences in non-verbal behavior would “counteract the cultural bias in deception judgments”. They recruited 69 (17 male and 52 female) older undergraduate students with an average age of 33.6 years. The students responded to an ad on psychology department bulletin boards with the title “Can you spot a liar?”.

The research participants were divided into three groups: a control group was given no information; those in the general condition group were told the video clips they were about to observe were of people from the Netherlands and that research has demonstrated that typical nonverbal behavior can vary across cultures. The third group, the specific information group, was told that the video clips were of people from the Netherlands and that research has demonstrated specific behavioral differences between the Dutch and the Australians. Specifically, Dutch people were described as smiling more, making less direct eye contact and having more hand and arm movements while speaking than are typical for Australians.

The researchers prepared 20 different video clips (duration of 30-40 seconds each) in which 10 amateur actors (half male and half female) each produced two versions of a rehearsed statement. One of the versions was nonverbally norm-consistent (that is, the actor gestured in ways Australians do as they speak) and the other was inconsistent with Australian social norms (that is, the gestures and non-verbal behavior was not commonly seen in the Australian culture but more akin to what some of the participants were told was common for the Netherlands). The actor in the video was describing someone they liked as the video was recorded, but the researchers turned the sound off as they played the video for the participants so all the participants would be able to rely on was the actor’s nonverbal behavior. In other words, the participants watched a video without sound and attempted to identify deception from nonverbal behaviors only.

All 69 participants/students viewed a number of video clips and judged whether each person in the videos was lying or telling the truth. They were asked to make the following judgments after each video: was this person lying or telling the truth; if they believed the person was being deceptive, what was the reason they believed the person was lying; and then how certain they were of their judgment.

And what they found was intriguing:

Participants in the control and general information groups were more likely to think the actors in the norm-inconsistent tapes were lying.

Participants in the specific information group did not see any difference between the norm-consistent and the norm-inconsistent tapes in terms of predicting lying.

It would seem that, in this instance, a little knowledge is a good thing. Those participants without specific information on how nonverbal behaviors vary across cultures were more suspicious of actors displaying norm-inconsistent behavior. On the other hand, those educated about what to expect in terms of nonverbal cultural differences were neither suspicious or not suspicious. They seemed to choose not to make assumptions based on nonverbal behavior alone.

This is instructive from both directions for witness preparation. While it’s salient for preparing foreign witnesses, it can apply equally well to Americans who come across as somehow ‘different’.

Prepare the jury for your witness. If you have a witness whose manner is likely to be seen as odd or unfamiliar to the jury, it can be useful to have a preceding witness describe them, perhaps make an aside about their lovable quirks, and establish the value of their testimony. This becomes especially important when your foreign witness has behaviors that could be seen as “odd” to your American jurors.

Educate your foreign witnesses about what to expect in American courtrooms and non-verbal behavior common in America so they are not prone to misinterpret what they see in the courtroom and become anxious.

Preparing foreign witnesses is a challenging yet very rewarding opportunity. It requires bridging the cultural gap between the assumptions of the witness and the assumptions of the jurors. It also requires sensitivity to foreign parties who see the American court system as frightening and threatening. Finally, it requires the awareness that things each of us take for granted can communicate vastly different information to the cross-cultural observer. The challenge is to balance diplomacy and tact with truthful feedback.

Castillo, P., & Mallard, D. (2011). Preventing Cross-Cultural Bias in Deception Judgments: The Role of Expectancies About Nonverbal Behavior. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 43 (6), 967-978 DOI: 10.1177/0022022111415672

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RACE-CARDOne of our most often accessed posts is in our Simple Jury Persuasion series and titled When to Talk about Race and When to Stay Silent. In the year following that post, two researchers examined when making race salient was useful for defense attorneys.

The article, with authors residing in and research done in the U.S.,  was published in a British journal and so they spell defense with a c instead of an s. To avoid confusion, and questions as to our proof-reading, we’ll spell it our way except in the actual citation below the post.

The researchers recruited 151 White college students and then had them read doctored trial transcripts. The transcripts varied based upon 1) Defendant race (either Black or White) and, 2) whether the Defense attorney made statements regarding race. In other words, the students were randomly given one of four possible scenarios: Black Defendant with race made salient by the Defense attorney; Black Defendant with no racially salient statements made by the Defense attorney; White Defendant with race made salient by the Defense attorney; or a White Defendant with no racially salient statements made by the Defense attorney.

The (12 page) trial transcript described a trial wherein a Defendant had been accused of simple assault after starting a bar fight following watching a football game on the bar TV where his favored team lost. The crime was interracial–that is, if the Defendant was Black, the victim was White and if the Defendant was White, the victim was Black. The Defendant was described as an out-of-towner who was traveling on business. The injuries to the victim were described as a “broken nose and a black eye”. In conditions where race was made salient by the Defense attorney, the following statements (from opening and closing statements) were included in the trial transcript:

The defendant did what any (Black/White) man in this situation would do.

and

The only reason the Defendant, and not the supposed victim, is being charged with this crime is because the Defendant is (Black/White) and the victim is (White/Black).

In those conditions where race was not made salient, the preceding statements were not included in the trial transcript. The research participants rated the guilt of the Defendant (on an 11-point scale ranging from definitely guilty to definitely not guilty) and those who found the Defendant guilty were asked to sentence the Defendant to a prison sentence ranging from 1 to 60 months in prison. They were also asked to rate the influence of Defense and Prosecution attorney statements and the race of the Defendant. (A previous mass testing session gave the researchers access to all participant scores on the Old Fashioned Racism Scale–see page 65 of the linked pdf for the scale questions.)

What the researchers found is intuitively compatible with our reading of the literature on what is now called “modern racism”.

In short, when the Defendant was Black, the racially salient statements of the Defense attorney helped with some White jurors.

Deviating from previous studies of the relationship of prejudice and the impact of making race salient, the difference in favor of the Black Defendant was not the same across all White participants. In previous studies, the use of racially salient statements lowered the proportion of White respondents finding the Black Defendant guilty across the board. That was not the case in this study.

Participants higher in prejudice/racial bias were more likely to find the Black Defendant guilty and more likely to find the White Defendant innocent.

The researchers say that it is important to consider that the research on this effect has been conducted using interracial crimes and it may not effect White jurors when both the Defendant and the victim are Black. They also discuss previous research that showed racially salient statements result in higher levels of cognitive processing among jurors. Thus, some jurors may focus more on the evidence and that may result in more Black Defendants being found guilty. Other jurors may be led by the increased cognitive processing to an over-emphasis on race and thus, the researchers say, more prejudiced jurors could find Black Defendants guilty.

These are nuanced findings and those very nuances are part of why it is so important to read original research sources and do pretrial research to see if the specific facts of your case are strengthened by making race salient or not. Also, we wouldn’t recommend the statements used in this research for any prosecutor or defense counsel. For research it’s fine, but not for the real world.

Despite Americans having elected (and re-elected) a biracial President, the impact of race in your specific case, with your specific Defendant or Plaintiff, and with your specific case facts and venue is anything but certain. For us, this is a both fascinating and very sad area of our work. We’ll keep reading the research. You keep coming back to check it out!

Bucolo, D., & Cohn, E. (2010). Playing the race card: Making race salient in defence opening and closing statements Legal and Criminological Psychology, 15 (2), 293-303 DOI: 10.1348/135532508X400824

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angerface

Parties in negotiation are often eager to gain an edge in the maneuvering. Plans sometimes are made to walk away in anger as a strategy to elicit cooperation from the other side. But is that a good idea? Researchers say faking anger is not a wise move, but expressing actually felt anger may help you in negotiations.

Why? Because if your emotion is seen as inauthentic it generates distrust. The researchers describe faking anger as “surface acting”. Surface acting is what you do when you express a feeling externally that is not the same as what you feel on the inside. According to the cited prior research, how your face looks when you “pretend” anger, is quite different from how it looks when you actually feel anger. And the other person knows and may interpret your display as “inauthentic, calculated, dishonest, and opportunistic”. On the other hand, authentic anger can make the opposition see you as “tough and unlikely to compromise” and thus, paradoxically, makes them engage. (To help the actors used in this research display “authentic anger”, they were told to remember an incident that had truly made them angry and then record the experimental script.)

The researchers looked at the impact of “surface acted anger” versus actual anger (communicated by actors using a “deep acting” strategy!) in a negotiation process. Participants were 140 university students (66 men and 74 women) between the ages of 18 and 28. They were randomly assigned to view a videotaped recording of a male negotiating a car sale with them. The person making the offer for the car described what they wanted and then, what they had concerns about with the vehicle.

There were three forms of the videotaped car purchase offer: either a faked angry presentation, a neutral presentation, or an angry presentation. They were to view the recording, decide whether to accept or reject the offer–and if they rejected the offer, to make a counter-offer. The researchers set the initial financial offer for the car at the low end of the car’s value so that a large proportion of the students would counter-offer.

And here is what the researchers found:

When you fake anger in a negotiation process, the other side is likely to “place particularly high demands on you, be relatively dissatisfied, and have little interest in working with you again” because of distrust.

The highest counter-offers were made to negotiators who faked anger, then negotiators who maintained a more neutral (aka “composed”) facade. The lowest counter-offers were made to those exhibiting a “deep acting” anger.

According to the research participants, there was no difference in what they saw as the intensity of the anger between those negotiators showing fake anger and those showing more authentic anger–they saw them as equally intense. However, they distrusted the fake angry negotiator and placed higher demands and saw the more authentically angry negotiator as tough and placed lower demands.

The researchers conclude that fake anger results in the least favorable demands from negotiation partners. Conversely, more attractive demands are made when you maintain more neutrality and the most attractive are made when you exhibit genuine anger. However–and this is the dilemma in social sciences research–these actors were not exhibiting genuine anger. They were acting and using past experiences of anger to guide their emotional expression. Even good actors display “anger” differently than you or I are likely to.

So we aren’t sure what this means for you in mediation/negotiation. Clearly, we don’t recommend you fake anger. Probably, the best bet is for you to maintain composure and emotional neutrality and take the medium counter-offer rather than the high or the low. Or if all else fails, try being genuine, whatever that might mean. If you want to settle, that is.

Côté, S., Hideg, I., & van Kleef, G. (2013). The consequences of faking anger in negotiations Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49 (3), 453-463 DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2012.12.015

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formal-apology

We’ve seen a lot of articles on the value of apology for victims (and we’ve written a number of them here) but there isn’t much out there on the value of the apology for the perpetrator of the wrong-doing. Victims tend to want apologies when they believe harm done was intentional. Victims, in this instance, often feel angry. Perpetrators, on the other hand, often especially want to offer an apology when the transgression was not intentional. Perpetrators, in this instance, often feel guilty for having harmed another.

European researchers believed these differing emotions (e.g., anger and guilt) can result in an “apology mismatch” and thus have impact on future forgiveness and reconciliation between the victim and the perpetrator. After three different experiments, the researchers reported that:

Apologies are driven by the perpetrator’s needs and they do not often consider the needs of the victim.

Perpetrator’s are more likely to apologize after unintentional transgressions due to higher levels of guilt.

Victims are not as angry after unintentional transgressions and therefore they are more likely to forgive the perpetrator.

Intentional transgressions result in the highest desire for apology from the angry victim and the lowest level of desire to apologize from the unrepentant perpetrator. A lack of apology can intensify the victim’s anger.

Ironically, the researchers cite prior research showing that when the angry victim receives the apology they say they want from the perpetrator of the intentional transgression–it doesn’t help as much as the victim anticipated it would.

Perpetrators may end up feeling guilt and thus apologizing for intentional transgressions that had unintended consequences such as pushing a friend into a pool and ruining a new smart phone in the friend’s pocket.

Overall, the researchers say, the desire for an apology and the desire to apologize are often mismatched and can result in grave difficulty reaching compromise. Those charged with mediating/negotiating solutions to such situations often find them more difficult than initially expected.

Our mock jurors often express distress in these situations. They wonder why the parties didn’t “work it out before it went so far”. When disputes involve conflict between family members, they always want the family members to drop lawsuits and go to counseling or just work out their disagreements and remember to love each other. Jurors don’t like conflict and tension any more than the rest of us do. They want to believe an apology can make all the difference in the world. The reality can be much more complex than any of us might imagine.

Consider also the import of this for mediation. Thinking in terms of the intangible/non-economic factors that facilitate resolution, this research is significant. The Plaintiff may be convinced that the wrong was done intentionally. The Defendant may feel that the damage that gave rise to the lawsuit was inadvertent, but may also feel angry or bitter that their error has been blown into a character attack. Strategies for diffusing the tension and bridging the misaligned perceptions end up feeling more like family therapy than law, but it is the very human nature of the process. What we have found can help is a mediation strategy (reinforced by the respective advocates of the parties) that:

You are justified in feeling wounded.

There are two issues at work: The compensable injury (the suit) and the personal affront (the emotional barrier to resolution).

The parties may never see eye-to-eye.

But even with the differences in perspective, both sides regret the situation, and also regret the related misunderstanding. Saying something like “I can’t honestly say that I see it the way you do, but I’m genuinely sorry that you are upset. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen” can often loosen deadlocks.

Leunissen, J., De Cremer, D., Reinders Folmer, C., & van Dijke, M. (2013). The apology mismatch: Asymmetries between victim’s need for apologies and perpetrator’s willingness to apologize Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49 (3), 315-324 DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2012.12.005

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