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The American Bar Association is seeking nominations until August 8, 2014 to help it decide on the Top 100 law blogs (“Blawgs”). We have been in the ABA Top 100 for the past 4 years and would like to make it 5! If you like this blog, please nominate us (it’s fast and free) here. THANKS! Doug and Rita

gay or straightAt least so says CBS News. Recently, CBS News reported on the results of a 2013 Center for Disease Control and Prevention survey (the National Health Interview Survey) of almost 35,000 adults. This was the first time the CDC asked people to report their sexual orientation as part of the survey and while the numbers may be a bit low, here is how CBS described the survey respondents:

The survey, conducted in 2013, included nearly 35,000 adults. Among the participants, 96.6 percent identified themselves as straight, while 1.6 percent identified as gay or lesbian, and 0.7 percent identified as bisexual. The remaining 1.1 percent didn’t select any of the options.”

Here are some of the ways those respondents who self-identified as gay, lesbian and bisexual described their health differently than those who self-identified as straight. We point out that this is self-report and the numbers of those identifying as lesbian/gay/bisexual total only 2.3%, which is dramatically lower than population estimates from other sources. (This begs the question of how those who self-identified as lesbian/gay in the survey may differ from the actual community of people who are lesbian/gay. Is this sample representative of the lesbian/gay community, or does it differ in a meaningful way?) Nonetheless, it is the first time we’ve had a national survey that allowed respondents to self-identify sexual orientation and it is a useful tool for beginning to describe health issues and how they differ across subgroups in our society.

Gay/lesbian (35.1%) and bisexual (41.5%) respondents said they had 5 or more drinks on one day at least once in the past year compared to just 26% of those who identified themselves as straight. A higher percentage of gay/lesbian/bisexual people said they were smokers when compared to straight respondents.

Bisexual people (11%) reported higher levels of “serious psychological distress” in the past 30 days than did their straight (3.9%) counterparts.

There were no differences in level of physical activity or in the numbers of men and women saying they were in excellent or very good health. However, a lower percentage of lesbian and bisexual women had “a usual place to go for medical care” than did straight women. On the other hand, straight respondents were more likely than gay or bisexual respondents to not seek medical attention due to cost.

The new report discusses the significance of being a minority group member when  health issues are concerned, and cites differences in health based on race and ethnicity, gender, and income which are well-documented. This is the first time being a part of a sexual orientation minority has been studied on such a large scale. Hopefully, as people feel more comfortable acknowledging sexual orientation in such research the number of respondents reporting being gay, lesbian or bisexual will become more realistic. This will help us know more about specific health concerns, targeted interventions, and access to or use of healthcare. In addition to understanding more about health differences, researchers will also examine the role of social stressors (stemming from unequal treatment) in the reported health disparities.

From a litigation advocacy perspective, this is yet another reminder that we need to identify differences and similarities between our clients and the jury pool. The comments following the CBS article make it clear there is much anger and hatred directed at gay, lesbian and bisexual people. And it affirms our general impression of the kinds of people who make comments on popular news websites.

Health of gay and straight people compared in first major survey. CBS News: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/health-of-gay-and-straight-people-compared-in-first-major-survey/ 

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The American Bar Association is seeking nominations until August 8, 2014 to help it decide on the Top 100 law blogs (“Blawgs”). We have been in the ABA Top 100 for the past 4 years and would like to make it 5! If you like this blog, please nominate us (it’s fast and free) here. THANKS! Doug and Rita

pinnocchio motivational speaker

The deception research is enough to make you lose faith in humanity. You are left to conclude that everybody lies. You can trust no one. And to make matters worse, most of us can’t identify a liar very well. We’ve written a bit about the deception literature but the work we are covering today is good for the soul. Overall, the researchers say lying is a less frequent occurrence than one might think based on the deception research and the frequency of lying is not distributed evenly across the population. In other words, not everyone lies after all!

The large majority [95%] of us are “everyday liars”–we tell small lies that are not particularly hurtful. Think of an everyday lie as “Those pants don’t make your butt look big”. But a small minority of us [5%] are “prolific liars” who lie about big and small things. The prolific liar is the one to beware of, as they are responsible for 50% of the lies told. Most of us are able to distinguish between what we think of as “small lies” and what lies constitute “big lies”. For every single big lie told by the everyday liar, the prolific liar tells 19 big lies! Maybe for entertainment, or for personal gain, or just out of habit.

The researchers found patterns and differences between everyday and prolific liars in the US and then found very similar patterns in the UK except they lie more frequently across the pond with almost 9.7% of the UK sample being prolific liars compared to 5% in the US. Here are some of the differences found between the everyday liar and the prolific liar:

The everyday liar is most likely to lie to their mother while the prolific liar is most likely to lie to their partners and children.

Prolific liars are more likely male, younger and to work in management roles.

Prolific liars were more likely to say their lying had led to losing jobs and relationships.

While there are apparently more liars in the UK, the researchers explain how to determine if someone is “just” an everyday liar or is a prolific liar. The cutoff number of lies told (to categorize someone as an everyday liar versus a prolific liar) is different for the US and the UK.

In the US, it is common for people to report telling 0 to 2 lies a day. In the UK, it is common for people to report telling 0 to 4 lies a day.

So, the researchers say that in the US, the prolific liar will tell 3 or more lies a day while the UK prolific liar will tell 5 or more lies a day.

Everyday liars say they tell perhaps one small lie a day and one big lie a week. The prolific liar tells almost 3 big lies a day in addition to the 6 small lies they acknowledge each day.

You may question whether prolific liars would admit their lying ways. The researchers say that self-reports of lying seem to be quite accurate (based on past research) and that since these “how much do you lie?” surveys were completed anonymously, they think that gives the data more credibility since social desirability responding would have been minimized.

Everyday liars say they lied more as children but the prolific liars have practiced their craft throughout their lifetimes. The prolific liar tells lies in every area of their life–whether it is work, friendships, or intimate personal relationships. And their behavior has consequences. Prolific liars are 4x more likely to report losing a significant other due to their lies and 9x more likely to have been fired for dishonesty.

Prolific liars feel, however, no more guilt about lying than everyday liars. The prolific liar has a high frequency of lies and a low-level of guilt while the everyday liar has a low-frequency of lies and a low-level of guilt. The researchers point to this discrepancy as a reason the two groups should be studied separately.

As the researchers say, “it is normal for people to tell a few lies, and many lies are minor transgressions or simply efforts to avoid being hurtful”. The prolific liar (whether in the US or the UK) operates outside the norms for lying and thus needs to be studied separately.

Alas, there is nothing in the article to tell us how to differentiate between the everyday liar and the prolific liar except asking them how often they lie. Then we are in the ironic position of relying on a liar to tell us the truth (face-to-face) as to who they really are and thus, how we can expect to be treated.

Serota, K., & Levine, T. (2014). A Few Prolific Liars: Variation in the Prevalence of Lying Journal of Language and Social Psychology DOI: 10.1177/0261927X14528804

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The Silent Generation: Who are they now?

Friday, August 1, 2014
posted by Rita Handrich

The American Bar Association is seeking nominations until August 8, 2014 to help it decide on the Top 100 law blogs (“Blawgs”). We have been in the ABA Top 100 for the past 4 years and would like to make it 5! If you like this blog, please nominate us (it’s fast and free) here. THANKS! Doug and Rita

Silent-Generation

The US Department of the Census just released a report on what it is like to be 65+ in the United States and we are sharing some of the highlights with you. We recently wrote about our youngest jurors (the Millennials) and this report highlights our oldest jurors–those 65 years of age and beyond (the Silent Generation makes up the bulk of this group). The very thorough report is 192 pages long but here are a few tidbits about our oldest jurors.

The percentage of the population aged 65 and over among the total population increased from 4.1% in 1900 to 12% in 2010 and is projected to reach 20.9% by 2050. Of course, average life expectancy in 1900 was only until ages in the 40’s.

In 2010, Alzheimer’s was the fifth leading cause of death among those aged 65 and older. (While other causes of death were largely in decline, death from Alzheimer’s rose more than 50% between 1999 and 2007.

Almost 40% of those 65 and above had one or more disabilities in 2010. The most common issues were walking, climbing stairs and doing errands alone.

The older White living-alone population was less likely to live in poverty than the older Black living-alone, older Hispanic living-alone and older Asian living-alone populations.

States with the highest proportions of age 65+ residents were Florida, West Virginia, Maine, and Pennsylvania. Each of these states had above 15% residents aged 65+.

In 2010, internet usage among the 65+ population was up 31% points from a decade earlier.

This group was the only age group to have higher voter participation in the 2012 presidential election than in the 2008 presidential election.

Obesity is not just a problem of the young. Between 2003 and 2006, 28.7% of older men and 30.6% of older women were obese (BMI greater than or equal to 30).

In other words, they are a lot like every other mock juror in the room.

About the same time the Census Department issued their report on being 65+ in America, Gallup released a new report on confidence in physical appearance. And here’s something to help those of us on this side of 65 smile with anticipation as we age. We’re going to get better looking each day.

“Though many may pine for the physical appearance they had in their younger years, America’s seniors are the most confident in their looks. Two-thirds (66%) of Americans aged 65 and older “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they always feel good about their physical appearance, compared with 61% of 18- to 34-year-olds. Middle-aged Americans (54%) are the least likely to report feeling good about their appearance.”

US Department of the Census. 2014 65+ in the US. http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2014/demo/p23-212.pdf

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The American Bar Association is seeking nominations until August 8, 2014 to help it decide on the Top 100 law blogs (“Blawgs”). We have been in the ABA Top 100 for the past 4 years and would like to make it 5! If you like this blog, please nominate us (it’s fast and free) here. THANKS! Doug and Rita

dittohead1

Here’s an intriguing study about how consensus is assumed and how it may inspire both activism and a false sense of confidence about the future. Despite a new Pew survey showing the perception is not accurate, conservatives assume more consensus among those sharing their political perspective than do liberals.

NYU researchers conducted three separate experiments looking at assumptions of consensus as related to political beliefs (i.e., liberal or conservative). The researchers say this false sense of consensus may be related to the shock and disbelief expressed by conservatives after Barack Obama won re-election in 2012.

Study 1: 107 online participants (72 female, average age 34.7 years with a range of ages from 18 to 64) viewed photos of 30 White male undergraduates and were asked to indicate whether the man pictured was gay or straight, the likelihood that the man pictured was born in November or December, and finally, whether the man pictured preferred fruit or vegetables. Then, once that descriptive task was done, they were asked “What percent of participants overall made similar judgments as you did?” and then, “What percent of participants who do not share your political beliefs made similar judgments to one another?”. While there was no consensus on judgments about the photographs with regard to birth dates, conservative participants had a stronger desire to see other conservatives agreeing with them than did liberal participants. Oddly, conservatives did reach consensus on whether the male pictured in the photograph was likely gay or straight.

Study 2: 150 online Americans (94 women, average age 34 years with a range of 18 to 65 years of age) who described themselves as “active members of a political party” performed the same tasks as in Study 1. This time the researchers wanted to see if perceiving consensus among like-minded others would be related to seeing your political party as “efficacious”. Again, conservatives actually were more in consensus on whether the male pictured was gay or straight (perhaps conservatives have better gaydar?). And, again, conservatives believed there would be higher consensus among ideologically similar participants while liberals did not. Conservatives were also more likely to see their political party as effective.

Study 3: For this study, the researchers wondered if seeing your political party as effective would make one more likely to vote. Three hundred and eleven online American participants (210 female, average age 32.9 years with an age range of 18 to 70 years) were asked to complete a study “focusing on the beliefs of individuals who belonged to a political party”. This time the participants were divided into three conditions: one group was the control group, another group was primed with a task for affiliating and the last group was primed with a task for not affiliating. Each participant judged only one of the ratings included in the first two studies. That is, 101 participants judged sexual orientation, 106 judged birth month, and 104 judged the likelihood of eating fruits or vegetables. Again (this is so odd) conservatives had more consensus on sexual orientation. Those conservatives who saw their beliefs as more in consensus with those sharing their ideology were more likely to see their political party as more effective and more likely to report plans to vote in the 2012 elections. (The researchers do not say if the conservatives were accurate in identifying sexual orientation, they just say they were in agreement as to who “looked gay”.)

Overall, say the researchers, conservatives may be motivated to perceive consensus while liberals may be motivated to perceive their beliefs as relatively unique. They cite other 2014 research showing conservatives over-estimate their similarity in beliefs to other conservatives while liberals under-estimate their belief similarities to other liberals.

From a litigation advocacy perspective, this work speaks to our belief in the importance of presenting your case with “universal values” rather than allowing hot-button (e.g., political perspective) issues to shape jurors’ perspectives on the case. To the extent that this research is accurate among your jurors, there are some important implications:

Conservative jurors are more likely to expect consensus with other conservatives and more likely to expect a lack of consensus with liberal jurors.

Don’t tell the story in a way that pushes juror’s political beliefs.

Focus on shared values of fairness, education, community involvement, and family connections.

Stern, C., West, T., Jost, J., & Rule, N. (2014). “Ditto Heads”: Do Conservatives Perceive Greater Consensus Within Their Ranks Than Liberals? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin DOI: 10.1177/0146167214537834

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The American Bar Association is seeking nominations until August 8, 2014 to help it decide on the Top 100 law blogs (“Blawgs”). We have been in the ABA Top 100 for the past 4 years and would like to make it 5! If you like this blog, please nominate us (it’s fast and free) here. THANKS! Doug and Rita

Gallup on lost confidenceLost-confidenceGallup

For several years now, we have watched our mock jurors express increasing disgust at government, large corporations, and politicians. We have written before about their unwillingness to identify with a national political party and the 2014 Gallup Poll showing the same pattern we have been seeing on a national basis.

In a recent pretrial focus group involving an auto accident resulting in death, jurors began spontaneously talking about General Motors and their ignition problems and the choice to keep it a secret (even though GM was not involved in the fact pattern and was not raised in the presentations). They expressed high levels of disgust with GM and then acknowledged that disgust colored their perceptions of the auto manufacturer involved in the current dispute. Then a juror mentioned Wall Street and the mortgage collapse and another mentioned political logjams in Congress and they had to be refocused on the case at hand.

As they deliberated, the themes of disgust and distrust returned repeatedly with jurors who were all-too-willing to assume the worst of the Defendants. From the jurors’ perspectives, the auto maker’s advertising/marketing plan was a lie, the consumer trusted the safety testing as reported, purchased the vehicle, and now they were dead. It could have been any one of them (and when one of them commented on this reality, most of them shook their heads in continued disgust). The damage award was large. The punitive award was larger. And it all seemed affected– or at least consistent with– feelings of disgust and distrust in our institutions.

So when Gallup came out with their recent poll on how Americans are losing confidence in all branches of government, we thought of our mock jurors.

Gallup

In the past 25 years, confidence in our government has eroded pretty consistently with all three branches (the US Supreme Court, Congress, and the Presidency) taking hits as Americans express lower and lower levels of confidence. Currently, fewer than 1 in 10 Americans have confidence in Congress. Does that surprise us? Not really. We’ve been tracking the loss of confidence in public institutions in pretrial research projects over the last 10 years.

From a litigation advocacy perspective, the important thing for defendants is to craft an identity for your client that sets your client corporation apart from the rest. Frame your particular client as different from, or changed from what they once were, and allow jurors to line up in support of corporate change. But you better have credible evidence to show them you really are different because at this point, the public assumes the worst unless you show them something better.

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