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superhero poseWe’ve written about power poses before and the work being done by Amy Cuddy and her colleagues on how they increase both self-confidence and hormones like testosterone and cortisol. The research has become so widely known it was even featured on the Grey’s Anatomy television show recently with two surgeons striking a superhero pose prior to a demanding surgery. But new research says those findings are simply not true. At least part of the findings are not true.

Researchers in Europe had 200 subjects (98 women and 102 men) provide saliva samples, then do three-minute power poses and then give saliva samples again. When the researchers tested the saliva samples (before power poses and after power poses) they found no difference in the level of testosterone or cortisol. But—and this is a big but—participants did feel more powerful and confident after holding the superhero poses.

So it is possible the Cuddy results showing increases in hormone levels was in error or somehow unique to their conducting of the research. From a litigation advocacy standpoint, though, we are not sure it really matters.

The point is to feel more confident and relaxed and even this larger sample size showed that “striking a power pose” was effective in helping participants feel more confident.

We believe in the importance of research to replicate findings. And what this larger scale study says is that while there are not accompanying physiological changes in hormone levels, there is a sense of feeling more confident and powerful. And that’s what you want before a challenging task—whether that is a complex surgery, a courtroom presentation, or a job interview.

Here’s Amy Cuddy’s TED talk. It is well worth watching!

Ranehill, E., Dreber, A., Johannesson, M., Leiberg, S., Sul, S., & Weber, R. (2015). Assessing the Robustness of Power Posing: No Effect on Hormones and Risk Tolerance in a Large Sample of Men and Women. Psychological Science DOI: 10.1177/0956797614553946

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smartphones-thumbJust when you thought you could relax a little about jurors accessing the internet during a jury trial, we learn this factoid from the smart folks at Pew Research Center:

“64% of American adults now own a smart phone of some kind, up from 35% in the spring of 2011. Smartphone ownership is especially high among younger Americans, as well as those with relatively high income and education levels.”

Yes. Smartphone ownership has almost doubled in the past four years. While a smart phone is now more likely than not, for some Americans, the smart phone is almost the only way they can access the internet and that particular group is different from those with multiple access points in some important ways.

Here are some of the findings from the Pew survey of 2,002 adults in the United States completed between December 4th and 21st, 2014 by telephone:

10% of Americans who own a smart phone do not have any other form of high-speed internet access.

15% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 are heavily dependent on a smart phone for online access.

13% of Americans who earn less than $30K a year are smart phone dependent for internet access. (As a comparison, only 1% of American households earning more than $75K per year rely on their smartphones for internet access.)

While 12% of African-Americans and 13% of Latinos are smart phone dependent for internet access, the same is true for only 4% of Whites.

Those who are smart phone dependent for internet access are also less likely to own another type of computing device, less likely to have a bank account, less likely to have health insurance, and more likely to rent or live with a friend or family member as opposed to owning their own home. Further, nearly half of those who are smart phone dependent have had to shut off their cell phone service for a period of time since the cost was prohibitive.

Among younger smart phone users, the smart phone is popular for avoiding boredom and to avoid interacting with others. They also use their phones more often than older users to watch videos, listen to podcasts, and get turn-by-turn directions to a desired location.

From a litigation advocacy perspective, this is one more reminder to remain vigilant about educating jurors on why smart phone research is a problem when deciding justice. On the other hand, this may also be a good question for determining financial stability and socio-economic status if you are unable to assess it otherwise.

“Do you have other means of internet access in your home besides your smart phone?”

The answer to that question could potentially give you insight into your potential juror’s life and their access to information that other questions cannot.

Pew Internet Research. 2015. US Smartphone use in 2015.

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Millennial-NewsThe popular perception is that Millennials are passive and uninterested in civic issues and that they do not pay attention to traditional “news” since they are glued to their smartphones. According to a very recent survey, these beliefs, like many stereotypes, are simply wrong. The Media Insight Project recently published a survey of 1,046 adults aged 18-34 years (did you realize some Millennials were that old?). The findings show that Millennials actually keep up with traditional “news” stories as well as stories connecting them to friends, hobbies, culture and entertainment. The authors say that the “first digital generation is highly engaged” and that “if anything, the enormous role of social media appears to have a widening impact, not a narrowing one, on the awareness of this generation”.

Here are just a few of the results from their survey:

Millennials News Insert

Contrary to popular belief, Millennials do not see themselves as “constantly connected”. While more than 90% of them owned smartphones and half had tablets, only 51% said they were online “most or all” of the day.

Social media involvement did not narrow their perspectives. Social media network feeds exposed them to a “diverse mix of viewpoints” some similar and some dissimilar to their own, according to 70% of those surveyed.

Of interest to the trial attorney is that 73% of those exposed to different views said they investigated the differing options of others at least sometimes with a quarter saying they investigate “always or often”. (This might indicate Millennials are more willing to consider viewpoints or evidence at odds with what they currently believe.)

69% of the Millennials said they get news at least once a day and 40% got news several times a day. This does not mean they watch a television news program or visit news sites to find news. More typically, news comes to them through social contexts (social networks or friends) and then they do research to learn more about the information.

Facebook use is pretty universal although younger Millennials are expressing growing frustration with Facebook and are more likely than older Millennials to have cut back on Facebook use or even dropped it entirely.

There are news-gathering differences by age within the Millennial generation. Younger Millennials (those under age 25 and even those out of college) use social networks more to identify news stories of interest to them and they use alternative news sites more. Older Millennials see social networks as “social” rather than sources for gathering information about the world around them.

This is a good resource to challenge your stereotypes about this particular group. They (in life, and as jurors) are not all the same. There are differences within this generation by age and by gender and even by ethnicity that may be surprising to you. Millennials are maturing and changing and popular beliefs about them are often seriously in error. And the Millennial may be more open to evidence contradicting their current point of view than are older jurors. That alone may make you want to look a little more closely at the Millennial in the box.

The Media Insight Project. 2015. How Millennials get news: Inside the habits of America’s first digital generation.

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ToiletTexting-infographic2People take selfies at funerals and text during sex. Others text while in the shower or while using the toilet (which apparently is not just for newspapers and books any longer). And wherever there are social faux pas’ you can bet academic researchers are not far behind. In fact, today we have research on just when young adults think texting is unacceptable behavior (but do it anyway).

The research question may strike you as odd: “Is texting while in the shower, or during sex, or while going to the bathroom the new normal?” but on such odd questions, professorial tenure is granted. Participants were 152 students (88 women, 64 men; average age 19.7; 55.1% White, 21.1% Asian, 8.8% African-American, 6.8% Hispanic, 2.7% Middle Eastern, and 5.5% other) at a “mid-sized university in the northeastern US”. Students completed the survey online and responded to questions about their texting behavior and what they saw as an appropriate situation/environment for texting. Their responses provide an amusing, sometimes surprising and disconcerting, view into their texting behaviors.

More than 1/3 (34.3%) reported sending or receiving 100 or more text messages a day. They reported checking for text messages an average of every 3.78 minutes (with one checking 200 times an hour!).

Students rated a number of situations as socially acceptable for texting. They thought for example, it was socially acceptable to send texts for flirting and romance, to stay connected to friends, to escape boredom, and while going to the bathroom.

Of note is that 83.3% had sent texts while going to the bathroom.

There were many texting situations not deemed socially acceptable but often done regardless of acceptability. For example, texting during class was not acceptable, but 84.7% had done this. Texting in the shower is unacceptable and 34% have done this. Texting during the Pledge of Allegiance is unacceptable and 11.3% have done it. Texting while having sex is unacceptable and 7.4% have done it. Talking to a friend and texting another at the same time is unacceptable and between 79% and 84% have done it. Texting one person in whom you are romantically interested while on a date with someone else is unacceptable and 21.5% have done it. Breaking up by text is unacceptable and 26% have done it. Sending text messages while at a funeral is unacceptable and 10.1% have done it. Texting during a job interview is unacceptable and 2.7% have done it. Fighting with some via text is unacceptable and 66% have done it. Sexting is unacceptable and 42% have done it.

Overall say the authors, texting is obviously an important means of communicating. They conclude by saying:

“Text messaging is not necessarily creating a new culture—a new normal—but it is conducive to allowing someone to believe they transcend social boundaries or that those social boundaries do not apply to them in the texting moment”.

From a litigation advocacy perspective, this study tells us how ubiquitous texting is for young adults across many different types of situations. Whether having sex, using the toilet, taking a shower, talking to a friend, or interviewing for a job—texting may happen whether it is seen as socially acceptable or not. This should likely be, as we say in Texas, “cause for pause” as to the effectiveness of the courtroom directives to not communicate about a case during trial.

Harrison, M., Bealing, C., & Salley, J. (2015). 2 TXT or not 2 TXT: College students’ reports of when text messaging is social breach The Social Science Journal DOI: 10.1016/j.soscij.2015.02.005

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beard and tattoosRecently we blogged about an emerging demographic subgroup: the lumbersexual. After reading the flurry of mainstream media articles about this group, here is how we described them:

“As far as we can tell, the lumbersexual is an urban male (typically White and heterosexual) who dresses like a lumberjack even though he is far from a lumberjack. While it is a recognizable fashion statement, there are (as yet) no attitudes, values and beliefs attributed to the lumbersexual. While there is a sense that these are men trying to look “like real men” according to a hyper masculine definition—there is no evidence that their attitudes, values and beliefs would line up with what we think of as stereotypically masculine.”

This was an emerging demographic subgroup observed in society fashion pages and written up in the mass media. We wondered if there would be research emerging to tell us more about the lumbersexual as a group. Are they conservative like the “real men” they emulate in dress or are they hipsters in search of a new look? We did not have to wonder long because, just like that, the academics weighed in with a refinement of the emerging stereotype.

You may notice that the male illustrating this post looks less like a nerd wearing lumberjack clothes and more like a male model with a colorful tattoo sleeve and an untrimmed beard. That is no mistake. The researchers we write about today see the beard and the tattoo (along with any existing piercings) as a way the male decorates himself to be more attractive to potential sexual partners. Yes, these researchers would be of the evolutionary psychology persuasion.

The researchers look at coloration and various “ornamentation” (think orange butts, big brightly colored noses, the beards of howler monkeys, and so on) and related sexual prowess in monkeys of various sorts and then apply their thoughts to human males who decorate themselves with beards and tattoos because, well, it just makes perfect sense to the evolutionary psychologist to make this (gigantic) cognitive leap.

They cite research showing that human males with beards, for example, receive higher ratings of aggressiveness, age and masculinity, but not attractiveness compared with non-bearded men. This means, say the researchers, that other men are cowed by the physical superiority of the bearded man and so they step back which leaves the bearded (and perhaps tattooed and pierced) man more access to the partner of their choice. They also attribute the same level of success to the bald man since baldness is a sign of increased testosterone and thus intimidates other men.

We actually wrote about how bald men cannot help but exude authority, confidence, power, and masculinity back in 2012. [If that sounds crazy, read the post!]

From a litigation advocacy perspective, these researchers would probably say that the bearded (and otherwise adorned male) human would be more of a leader than the non-bearded male human—their rationale would be that from physical observation the bearded male would be seen as more masculine and powerful. They would likely hold the same view of the man with the bald head (or shaved head).

We are not evolutionary psychologists and we beg to differ. Sometimes men with beards are leaders in the jury room and sometimes they are not. It isn’t so much about having or not having a beard or having or not having a full head of hair—it’s about life experiences, beliefs, attitudes and values (one of which may be presenting oneself as a more masculine man), and charisma. Overall, despite this research, we would encourage you to look for other indicators of leadership than the presence of a beard or a bald head (even when both are present in the same potential juror!) as you engage in voir dire and jury selection.

Grueter, C., Isler, K., & Dixson, B. (2015). Are badges of status adaptive in large complex primate groups? Evolution and Human Behavior DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2015.03.003

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