Archive for the ‘Case Presentation’ Category
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
Research shows, even though it’s now 2013, that stereotypes of women as passive, not ambitious, and not energetic continue to abound. Researchers wondered whether the proportion of women in a mixed-gender group doing a male-stereotyped task would affect gender-related evaluations of the group process.
Researchers recruited 110 students (71 women, 39 men) enrolled in a graduate level introductory management course. The average age of the participants was 26.4 years and 52% of them were White. The 110 participants were divided into 22 different five-person groups. The number of women was varied in the groups: 2 of the groups had two women among the 5 workers, 13 groups had 3 women, and 7 groups had 4 out of 5 female workers. They were assigned a group task to “build a replica of a complex model made of Legos”. They were given 30 minutes to plan a strategy and then 30 minutes to build their replica. Once they believed their replica was complete, they presented it to the judges. If it was not accurate, it was returned to them without feedback on flaws.
Following successful completion of the replica, they filled out questionnaire about their experience working with the group. Ten weeks later, they were asked one question via a web-based questionnaire: “To what extent would you be willing to work with your Legoperson team on a graded group project?”. And here is what the researchers found:
The proportion of women in the group (whether 2 members, three members, or four members in the 5 person group) had no relation to performance on building the Lego replica.
In groups that had higher proportions of female members, group members rated each other as having contributed LESS to the task completion. (It did not matter if the rater was male or female. The more women in the group, the lower the level of individual contributions was perceived to be to task completion.)
In groups that had higher proportions of female members, group members also rated the group itself as less effective. (Again, it did not matter if the rater was male or female. The higher the proportion of women in the group, the less effective the group was rated.)
Finally, in the follow-up question task (to which 65% responded) groups with higher proportions of women were less willing to work together again. (And again, it didn’t matter if the rater was male or female. If there were more women in the group, members didn’t want to work together again.)
Let’s say that again. No matter if you were a male group member or a female group member–belonging to a group with a higher proportion of women and being assigned a male-stereotyped task meant you thought more negatively of individual group members, that you had a negative sense of group effectiveness, and that you were less willing to work with the group again. And all this when there was no difference in the actual objective effectiveness of the group in terms of task completion: all groups performed equally well, but the groups with more women felt less good about it.
It’s a disturbing study. Men denigrate women. Women denigrate women. The researchers suggest that perhaps it is because gender composition has impact on how the group functions so that even high-functioning teams with higher proportions of women may not wish to work together again.
Or, it could be that men and women members of groups with predominantly more women are evaluated negatively “by association”. That is, they are in a group largely composed of women and so are all negatively evaluated by each other. Perhaps, as the researchers say, it’s a case of “catching stigma” from all those women.
And all this with no actual difference in objective outcome. It’s all about subjectivity. How do I feel about this group and perceive this group’s effectiveness? It’s sobering to consider the impact of gender composition on work groups, special project groups, and on juries.
While more research is obviously essential, it highlights the importance of educating jurors (and work groups) on what is needed for successful task completion. The jury in the Rod Blagojevich trial was 11 women and 1 man and that jury was widely lauded for effective function. Given this research, it would be curious how the individual members of that jury would rate their group function, and whether they would like to work together again.
West, T., Heilman, M., Gullett, L., Moss-Racusin, C., & Magee, J. (2012). Building blocks of bias: Gender composition predicts male and female group members’ evaluations of each other and the group Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48 (5), 1209-1212 DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2012.04.012
Model Cameron Russell has been making the rounds of various talk shows saying she is a successful underwear model not because she is particularly gifted or talented, but because she won a “genetic lottery”. Well, we bet wide-faced men are wishing they had won a genetic lottery because things are just not looking good for them. Last time we visited the topic of the wide-faced man it was to look at research telling us that, in comparison to skinny-headed men, the wide-faced man was judged by observers as being more likely to “lie and cheat”.
New research tells us the wide-faced man is more likely to explicitly endorse racially prejudiced beliefs. And not only are they more likely to do this, we anticipate they will be racist just by looking at them. That is, we are inclined to presume that wide-faced men are racist. Because they have wide-faces. And according to this research, it’s true.
These researchers believe the wide-faced man has a higher level of testosterone and is therefore more likely to be dominant, likely to be less inhibited when it comes to expressing prejudice, and more likely to be seen by others as being more prejudiced than less wide-faced men. They completed three separate studies to investigate these questions and all of these hypotheses were supported in their research. An additional and intriguing finding was that minority participants were “more motivated to accurately assess targets’ prejudice than were majority-group members”. They were also more accurate in estimating the prejudice of the particular wide-faced man. The researchers opine that this finding (wide-faced men are more prejudiced and more likely to overtly express their attitudes) adds to the body of research on how biology determines personality characteristics.
One of the problems we often encounter with research reports is the mighty leap that is taken between a finding (“wide-faced men harbor racial prejudice, just as people expect”, and causation (“wide-faced men have more testosterone which causes them to be domineering and uninhibited.”). Really? Is that a fact? Like the actual observed finding? No, it isn’t. It’s a theory. It may be based on some correlational data, but it could be as much due to other ‘causes’, or even coincidence. Beware of sensationalist research. And especially beware of glib causation assertions that goes so far beyond the data.
Given the findings in this research, we encourage you to read our original post on strategies to de-accentuate the impact of your own wide-face or your client’s wide face. In addition to simply buttressing the initial study’s results, this one also tells us that minority individuals are going to be especially attuned to bias and prejudice in wide-faced men. It becomes especially important, if you have minority members on your jury, that you are sure to inoculate jurors against their own biases and assumptions by educating them on the stereotypes against the wide-faced man.
Hehman E, Leitner JB, Deegan MP, & Gaertner SL (2013). Facial Structure Is Indicative of Explicit Support for Prejudicial Beliefs. Psychological Science. PMID: 23389425
We’ve all known for years that jurors look at standard jury pattern instructions with confusion and sometimes, abject misery. In our pretrial research, we often encourage the use of a simplified jury charge so we are sure jurors will understand the questions they are asked to answer (and so the meaningless boilerplate doesn’t take them an hour to slog through). When we use standard pattern charges in pretrial research, there are often questions about definitions, debate as to double negatives in a sentence, and confusion amongst the group over what is being asked and how (pray tell) it relates to the case.
It’s part of why we encourage trial lawyers to teach jurors how to read, understand and respond to the charge as part of their closing statement. But how do you find some straightforward and current research on just how confusing the standard pattern language is? Right here.
The latest issue of The Jury Expert contains an article by Rachel Small, Judith Platania and Brian Cutler titled Assessing the Readability of Capital Pattern Jury Instructions. And that’s exactly what the article does. The authors collected as many capital pattern jury instructions as they could (from 32 of 33 states currently allowing the death penalty). They point out the general reading level of the American population is fairly “basic”.
“Literacy levels are rated according to the following performance levels: Below basic, no more than the most simple literacy skills; Basic, the skills necessary to perform everyday reading tasks; Intermediate, the skills required to perform moderately challenging tasks; and, Proficient, the skills needed for complex reading tasks. Prose literacy, which measures the skills needed to understand and use information from continuous texts, is the form most applicable to jurors’ abilities to comprehend and apply sentencing instructions.
On average, prose literacy level of adults is identified as Basic – possessing the skills necessary to perform everyday reading tasks. Specifically, NAAL’s (2003) survey found that 29% of adults possess a basic level of prose literacy. Additionally, adults over the age of 65 were found to be more likely to receive a below basic score on the prose literacy tasks compared to other age groups. Based on this finding, it is likely that below basic levels of prose literacy are present in a substantial portion of venire persons retained for jury service.”
The language in standard pattern jury instructions does not match the likely reading level of jurors. Instead, the language is quite difficult to comprehend. The authors report that all of the state instructions were categorized as “difficult to very difficult” using the Flesch-Kincaid scoring guidelines.
We often tell our lawyer clients that we want them and any expert witnesses to be “really good middle school science teachers”. They have to speak at a level that is clear and educative as well as accurate. That level of instruction gives jurors a sense of understanding and comprehension that helps them to wade into subject areas that are challenging and complex. During mock trial research, we often hear jurors express surprise that they were able to grasp such complicated information. They are able to grasp it because the attorney and the witnesses are speaking a language that is understandable to the individual jurors.
When jury instructions are written at a level best understood by those with college educations and the level of literacy in this country is quite a ways below that standard–there is a problem. You can use this research to buttress an argument that the language is too difficult in standard pattern instructions. If that fails, you can use this research to remind you to teach jurors how to interpret the charge, point by point by point.
Small, R., Platania, J., & Cutler, B. (2013). Assessing the readability of capital pattern jury instructions. The Jury Expert, 25 (1.)
We have a new article in The Jury Expert with insight and strategies for avoiding the dreaded “failure to communicate” and offering ideas on how to apply what we know about generational differences to your workplace, your courtroom presentations and, naturally, to voir dire. Why?
Our age and our generation shapes the lens through which we view the world. Not only because of the number and type of life experiences age presents, but also due to the key events that teach each generation what is important, and what needs to be considered in determining personal priorities and justice. Those experiences have patterns across the generations, but also differences. The marker events that shape our views can’t be transferred so easily. For those who grew up looking at black and white television images of the civil rights demonstrations in the 1960’s, the world is different than for those who grew up with iPods and text messaging. But how? Are we really that different? Can a workplace successfully accommodate the differences? Can juries come to a collaborative verdict with diverse age groups in the box?
The legal blawgosphere has been filled with anecdotal tales of what is termed “generational conflict” for years now. Based on conversations with our clients, contentious inter-generational interaction is not just out there “on the web”. It’s everywhere. We’ve written extensively on issues related to generations–both in the courtroom and in the office.
As litigation consultants, we hear senior partners aiming sharp criticism toward both younger jurors and younger lawyers (especially new law school graduates), and we see the associates roll their eyes and grit their teeth at the disrespect they feel from some partners. The work ethic of the younger attorneys (judged as inadequate by older attorneys) is blamed for their trouble in finding jobs. “If they were not so lazy”, the opinion seems to go, and “if they did not want instant success, they wouldn’t have such a tough time finding work.” It is, in short, their own fault they are unemployed. They have bad values. Or so it is said by many of their elders. Especially the subgroup of employers, supervisors, and–occasionally–parents. But is that accurate?
It turns out that it’s likely untrue. A recent editorial in the LA Times points out that from 2004 to 2008, the legal field grew less than 1% on average (and the same growth rate is predicted until 2016). The number of likely attorney positions opening per year is thus 30,000. US law schools are graduating 45,000 new JDs every year. Fully one-third of US law school graduates will likely not find employment as attorneys.
What we’ve learned is that cross-generational communication is complicated. There isn’t an easy recipe for success, but there is a path toward effectiveness. There are principles and strategies to use both in successful intergenerational work teams as well as effective jury dynamics. In other words– they don’t all have to be just like you in order for things to go smoothly. Visit this new article at The Jury Expert site for both “how to” and “why to” strategies that will aid you in skillfully negotiating generational differences–in the courtroom and in the office.
Douglas L. Keene, & Rita R. Handrich (2013). Values, Priorities, and Decision-Making: Intergenerational Law Offices, Intergenerational Juries. The Jury Expert, 25 (1.)