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It is still so early in 2017 and yet, it is time for another installation of tidbits, miscellany, odds and ends, and accumulated wisdom with which you can amaze your friends and impress family members. And that we don’t want to just toss disrespectfully into recycling when it could bring so much joy to your life. So here we go.

Internet commenters: Why they do the things they do

We blogged a while back about people who comment on the internet (and why it might be a good tool for voir dire). Now we have a very readable piece from 538.com telling us what 8,500 internet commenters said about why they post comments online. It is a fun read (and if you read many online publications you will recognize the reasons behind much of the commenting) on why some people (mostly men in this sample) feel a need to comment on internet stories. You will probably not be surprised that most internet commenters do not actually read the entire article before commenting. Go take a look.

Psychiatrist behaving badly (before trial and during trial)

This is a very weird story. And it’s true—which makes it even weirder. A psychiatrist who’d been convicted of raping one of his patients put on a disguise to sneak into the courthouse and post bogus jury instructions in the jury room that were “designed to tamper with the jury before they reached their verdict”. He was caught on courthouse videotape, wearing a “disguise of a leather jacket and baseball cap” and “no longer using the walker he had used during the trial”. The psychiatrist was found guilty, lost his medical license, and was sentenced to three years in prison. If you follow the link to this story, you will not feel at all sorry for this physician-defendant. He has a long history of bad behavior.

Big boys don’t cry (with apologies to both the Four Seasons and Lucky Dube)

Maybe we should also apologize to John Boehner but we won’t. Instead, let’s get right to this: when men cry, it violates cultural norms that men should be emotionally contained and controlled. The researchers (cited below) found that when men cried in response to performance evaluations (which sometimes occurs) they are evaluated more negatively for the crying behavior and are more likely to receive future negative references from the evaluator. The researchers believe that because crying in men is seen as atypical, observers downgrade their assessment of the man and crying can therefore harm the man’s future career mobility.

This might make you cry: Software to analyze your online personality in less than a minute

If you have an online Twitter presence you might want to take a deep, cleansing breath before you read further. Oh—and you’d better sit down. There is a new company (Scale Model) designed to analyze online personalities of organizations or networks or “influencers”. Business Insider says the software can describe your online personality in a “frighteningly accurate” manner. The idea is to identify who your listeners are (so you can market more effectively) and to identify new target groups to whom you can also market. There really is no privacy online and marketers are becoming increasingly savvy about how to approach us.

Are you a good boss? 

While most managers tell interviewers they are terrific people managers, at least half of US adults surveyed by Gallup had left their job to get away from their manager at some point in their lives. Somewhere there is a pretty big disconnect! Forbes has a tool for you to see if you are a good boss. It is only five questions so you might want to go assess yourself.

Motro D, & Ellis AP (2016). Boys, Don’t Cry: Gender and Reactions to Negative Performance Feedback. The Journal of Applied Psychology PMID: 27808525

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We love Pew Research and their work on cataloguing how society here in the United States changes slowly or quickly (as the case may be) over time. A review of their hard work gives you a sense of what changes are underway in our now constantly changing “new normal”. They have published a lot in 2016 to help us understand how our potential jurors are changing. Take a look at just a few of the sixteen stories they deem “striking” from 2016. We’re telling the Pew story with their own pictures. Go to the site itself to read the details. [The spacing on this post is beyond us so please scroll…thanks!]

Significant demographic changes in America have reshaped our major political parties—our political parties look very different now than they did during the George W. Bush presidency.   

 

And voters are divided on where the country is headed as well as whether that direction is better or worse. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Millennials are now the largest generation of living Americans (bigger than Boomers)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And more of the Millennials live with their parents than ever seen with young people before (although it should be noted that this trend has been growing for years now and it is not a Millennial “thing”).  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along with generational shifts, we are also seeing increased racial tensions with about four-in-ten blacks (43%) being skeptical that America will ever make the changes needed for blacks to achieve equal rights with whites

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And we are wary of what new technologies will mean for our lives.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pew summary of the 16 most striking findings in their surveys published in 2016 is fascinating reading if you want to know (as most of us do) how the country is changing and what that may mean for our potential jurors. There is more division and demographic change than we’ve seen in some time and it will most likely play a significant role in how your case is heard by jurors.

Take a look at Pew’s end of year summary and update yourself on how things stand now on a wide variety of subjects that may be part of your own up coming case narratives.

Images taken from Pew site

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Here’s an update on the stash of tattoo posts we have here. This is a collection of new research on tattoos (to make sure we are up to date) that will undoubtedly help you decide what your individual ink means/will mean, and of course, what it suggests about your jurors, your clients, your kids, and maybe you, too! We’ll start out with the punch line from one of the articles (Galbarczyk & Ziomkiewicz 2017): women do not find tattooed men irresistibly attractive despite what men think about other men with tattoos.

Do women really “dig” tattoos? (Not so much)

Men apparently believe that a man with tattoos is likely to be serious competition for the attention of a woman. Women themselves do not generally see tattooed men as the be all, end all. That (perhaps surprising) conclusion is according to new research out of Poland where 2,584 heterosexual men and women looked at photos of shirtless men. In some of the photographs, the man’s arms were marked with a smaller black symbol (see graphic illustrating post for one of the photo pairs). Men rated these tattooed men higher in terms of what (they thought) women would look for in a long-term partner. Women did not agree and rated the tattooed men as worse candidates for long-term relationships than the men pictured without tattoos. Once again, men don’t seem to understand what women find attractive. The authors wanted to figure out if women or men were more drawn to tattoos on men and they conclude this way: “Our results provide stronger evidence for the second, intrasexual selection mechanism, as the presence of a tattoo affected male viewers’ perceptions of a male subject more intensely than female viewers’ perceptions.”

In other words, when men get tattooed, other men are going to be more impressed than will women. For men who are homophobic, this could be a traumatizing study.

Are tattooed adults more impulsive? (Not really)

There’s been a plethora of research done on whether the personalities of tattooed adults are different from the personalities of adults with no tattoos. And, after multiple grants of academic tenure—the answer is….not really. This study (Swami, et al.), done in Europe, had 1,006 adults, complete psychological measures of how impulsive and prone to boredom they were. About 1/5 of the participants (19.1%) had at least one tattoo but there were no real differences in terms of gender, nationality, education or marital status. There were also no strong differences in either impulsivity or  likelihood of becoming bored—not for those with one tattoo and not for those with more than one tattoo (the highest number among the individual participants was 23 tattoos).

The authors concluded that tattooed adults and non-tattooed adults are more similar than different. (This doesn’t really surprise us as tattoos have become much more normative, although—there is nothing normative about having 23 tattoos.)

So are tattooed women less mentally healthy than non-tattooed women? (Nope)

Women with tattoos have been seen as deviant and anti-social in past research.

If that seems odd to you, know this: When I was in graduate school, there was a widely held view that women with multiple ear piercings as more likely to have personality psychopathology. Multiple piercings were outside the norm of behavior then, and are now, much more common.

So—here’s a study out of Australia (Thompson, 2015) looking at whether that is still the case. This study was completed using an internet survey (710 women) which asked participants to complete the Loyola Generativity Scale. The term generativity comes to us from psychological research and is, very simply, the desire we have (or do not have) to contribute positively to the future. You will often see generativity used to describe the desire to mentor younger people in career or other life areas.

The people who developed the scale describe it this way: “Generativity is a complex psychosocial construct that can be expressed through societal demand, inner desires, conscious concerns, beliefs, commitments, behaviors, and the overall way in which an adult makes narrative sense of his or her life.” (With no offense intended to the scale developers, it is likely easier for you to think of generativity as a desire to positively contribute to future generations.) Essentially, this researcher wanted to see if women with tattoos would have the same level of generativity as women without tattoos.

As in the study of risk-taking and impulsivity that preceded this one, there were no differences between tattooed and non-tattooed women in terms of their level of generativity. What was seen as edgy and counter-cultural 30 years ago is now merely a personal expression and fashion statement.

Finally, can we trust tattooed adults if they have a tattoo with a Christian-theme? (It depends)

This research focused on what they identified as “mixed signals” which they defined as a signal projecting untrustworthiness (in this case, a tattoo) but where the theme or content of the signal suggests trustworthiness (in this case a tattoo of a religious symbol, the cross). Interestingly, this researcher chose to place the tattoos on the neck (either on the side or centered under the chin). While  the third photo may look like a necklace to you, it is actually a tattoo. Some were photos of men or women with cross tattoos, others were men or women with star tattoos, while still others saw men or women with no tattoos.

Participants included 326 people who were shown 26 photographs and asked to rate trustworthiness of the person pictured on a scale from 1 (extremely low trust) to 7 (extremely high trust). Only after they had rated the photos were the participants asked whether they would identify as Christians (58.9% did) and if they had tattoos themselves (31% did). The results here are (ironically) mixed.

Christian participants rated the face without tattoos (which perhaps would have communicated shared values) as more trustworthy than the tattooed faces but they also rated faces with the religious tattoo as being more trustworthy than non-Christians did. Non-Christian participants thought the religious tattoo face less trustworthy and the star tattoo face more trustworthy.

From a litigation advocacy perspective, this series of articles on tattoos and what they mean in the present day to the observer, tells us you cannot rely on knowledge from a few years ago to inform you on what a tattoo means now. It is the same with venires—old knowledge is old knowledge. Do not assume that the venire is the same as it was 5 years ago—or that neck tattoos are always signs of deviance. Update yourself. Jurors will probably feel it and be more open to your message.

Galbarczyk, A., & Ziomkiewicz, A. (2017). Tattooed men: Healthy bad boys and good-looking competitors Personality and Individual Differences, 106, 122-125 DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2016.10.051

Swami, V., Tran, U., Kuhlmann, T., Stieger, S., Gaughan, H., & Voracek, M. (2016). More similar than different: Tattooed adults are only slightly more impulsive and willing to take risks than Non-tattooed adults Personality and Individual Differences, 88, 40-44 DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2015.08.054

Thompson, K. (2015). Comparing the psychosocial health of tattooed and non-tattooed women Personality and Individual Differences, 74, 122-126 DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2014.10.010

Timming, A., & Perrett, D. (2016). Trust and mixed signals: A study of religion, tattoos and cognitive dissonance Personality and Individual Differences, 97, 234-238 DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2016.03.067

Images from Galbarczyk & Ziomkiewicz  and Timming et al. articles

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It is very cold outdoors (even in Texas) and it is time once again for a number of important things we decided did not merit an entire post but wanted to share. Think of it as a series of holiday gifts for you…

Ever wonder why white-collar criminals did what they did? 

Wonder no more. The Atlantic has an article by a writer who spent much of the last seven years trying to sort out why respected executives would choose to engage in fraud, embezzlement, bribery and/or insider trading. It is a fascinating read although these are not redemption stories and here’s a shocker: there are liars among those white-collar prisoners! If you wonder how these former executives weighed the costs and benefits of illegal activities—the answer is, mostly they did not. They simply did not think of consequences. The author concludes with a quote that may make you blink a few times:

“What we all think is, ‘When the big moral challenge comes, I will rise to the occasion’, but there’s not actually that many of us that will actually rise to the occasion,” as one former CFO put it. “I didn’t realize I would be a felon.”

Scientists can predict what sort of iPhone you own based on individual characteristics

At least they think they can. According to a Science Daily write-up of the article, iPhone users are more likely to be: younger, more than twice as likely to be women, more likely to see their phone as a status object, more extraverted, and less concerned about owning devices favored by most people. In contrast, Android users were more likely to be: male, older, more honest, more agreeable, less likely to break rules for personal gain, and less interested in wealth and status.

Good to know—I guess those white-collar criminals were non-traditional iPhone users. You can review the entire text of this paper (free) online. We aren’t validating or endorsing their findings, we’re just your humble messengers.

Raise your salary with this negotiation strategy: A dumb joke (which is not really what this strategy is)

Back in 2011, we blogged about research on how to negotiate a higher income. Now the Science of Us blog has resurrected that article and instead of calling the effect the generally accepted “anchoring effect” they apparently decided that they would reinterpret that finding as “you can tell a dumb joke” [i.e., “I want a million dollar salary”] and raise your salary in negotiations.

There’s a name for the conventional wisdom about starting with a high number: It’s called anchoring. As in, the first number that gets tossed out is the one that anchors the discussion, the number with the most influence over how things eventually play out. And according to the study that the APS highlights, published in 2011 in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, that holds even when the first number is something clearly ridiculous, like saying you want a million dollars for a job that obviously won’t pay anything in that ballpark.

When we track back the links on the Science of Us post, it seems there was a recent NPR interview that cited this research and so they were simply passing it on. So, that crack about your salary expectations doesn’t qualify in our book as a dumb joke but so it goes. Here’s a really stupid joke that we don’t think will raise anyone’s salary: What was a more important invention than the first telephone? The second one.

And the real lesson here is not what constitutes a stupid joke but rather, if you want to hear news like this research result in a more timely (not to mention accurately interpreted) fashion—just keep reading us. We actually read and don’t just recycle.

You will feel pain with this one and find yourself nodding your head and thinking of more…

Sometimes we see things on the web that are just begging to be shared. This one is from David Shall at the Georgia Institute of Technology and is actually a video titled “The Secrets of Memorably Bad Presentations”. He even mentions the idea of telling a bad joke (but he doesn’t want you to really do that). Enjoy.

The audio on the video is horrible (likely not intentional) so if you want to read a quick list of his points you can visit Retraction Watch. If you choose to do this, PLEASE read the comments on that page as they make you feel the pain of horrible presentations even more acutely.

Shaw, H., Ellis, D., Kendrick, L., Ziegler, F., & Wiseman, R. (2016). Predicting Smartphone Operating System from Personality and Individual Differences Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 19 (12), 727-732 DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2016.0324

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/cyber.2016.0324

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We’ve seen the reports of hate crimes skyrocketing—both in general, and specifically for Muslims. Now a new report says the self-reports of discrimination from Latinos have doubled in the past decade. The study used data from the National Latino Health Care Survey (a telephone survey of 800 Latino adults completed in 2013). The lead author says this is particularly chilling given the verbiage used during the US presidential elections toward immigrants and immigration. In a news release on the article, the lead author says the research suggests an “increasingly negative immigration policy environment and anti-immigrant sentiment is likely to engender higher levels of discrimination”.

Here are some of the main points in the article:

68.4% of the survey participants reported discrimination. This is comparable to the level of discrimination reported by Blacks in the US (although more than twice as high as the rate found in 2002-2003—which was 30%).

More anti-immigrant state level policies were associated with higher levels of discrimination (perhaps because the government was seen as sanctioning discrimination against immigrants).

Both foreign and US-born Latinos were stigmatized by anti-immigrant policies.

Although anti-immigrant policies are not about health, they can negatively impact health (in part through exposure to increased discrimination).

The authors conclude their article by saying this:

As the recent political rhetoric serves to further marginalize (Latino) immigrants, and comprehensive immigration reform remains a political topic, it is more important than ever to understand the health impact of anti-immigrant policies on all Latinos.

From a litigation advocacy perspective, as Texas-based trial consultants we have always seen anti-immigrant sentiments [typically surrounding questions of legal status] in our pretrial research and have blogged about it a number of times. What this says to us is that, regardless of where your case is to be tried in the US—you need to pay attention to anti-immigrant sentiments if your client, the parties, the witnesses, or you yourself—are non-White. You will need to evaluate whether race or ethnicity is salient to your case and then make decisions about how to best advocate based on that reality.

Almeida, J., Biello, K., Pedraza, F., Wintner, S., & Viruell-Fuentes, E. (2016). The association between anti-immigrant policies and perceived discrimination among Latinos in the US: A multilevel analysis SSM – Population Health, 2, 897-903 DOI: 10.1016/j.ssmph.2016.11.003

Article is available open access at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352827316301471

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