Archive for the ‘Case Presentation’ Category
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
It’s a great question just in general in terms of thinking about events that have shaped you as an individual. For us though, it’s a great question because it also speaks to generational differences (a favorite topic of ours!).
As each of us grows up, major events happen and they are called (in generational research speak) “defining moments”. They are seen as shared experiences for generational groups who were all there and experienced the event in varying (but nonetheless) life-altering ways.
So what are your own defining moments? The first moon landing? The Vietnam War? The first great depression? The second great depression? 9/11? The JFK assassination? The MLK assassination? The fall of the Berlin Wall? Stonewall? Woodstock? Watergate? The Challenger explosion? The Enron scandal? The prime mortgage meltdown? The Obama election? The recent presidential election results?
While each of us may have a few that are idiosyncratic or individual—the bulk of our “defining moments” will be those shared with others despite the fact we may never have met those “others” or discussed these events. Recently, Pew Research Center asked Americans for their individual 10 most significant events of their lifetimes. The answers, as you might expect, reflect views through the lenses of individual respondent’s lifetimes—although 9/11 over-shadows all other events listed. Other events naturally show up on the radar of older people (such as Watergate or the Reagan election) but are not within the lifetime of the younger respondents. Here are the top 10 events listed across all respondents in the Pew survey:
Those that surprise you are those that were not on your radar (either due to your age or priorities). But—and this is why we admire Pew Research—they do not stop with a simple rank order listing of the important events in the lifetimes of respondents to their survey. They go on to divide us up into various generational groups:
The Silent and Greatest generations remember WWII.
The Boomers remember the assassination of JFK and Vietnam.
Millennials and Gen Xers focus on 9/11 and the election of Obama.
Further, five of the Millennial generation’s Top 10 defining moments do not appear on the Top 10 for any other generation. You will want to read the article to see more on this but we will tell you which five are not on any other generation’s top list (Sandy Hook, the Orlando/Pulse nightclub shootings, the death of Osama bin Laden, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the Great Recession). It is testament to the power of age and developmental phase when it comes to how defining moments are experienced.
Participants were also asked to name the historic event that made them feel proudest of their country and the events that made them most disappointed in their country. While the “I was disappointed in America” responses are more partisan than the others, it is an intriguing list to peruse. Finally, Pew looked at responses by “race and ethnicity, gender, income, education, political party, and region of the country”.
From a litigation advocacy perspective, this is a fascinating example of how differently we see and experience and evaluate major events differently (depending on our phase of life, age, geographic location, and our attitudes, beliefs, and values–and it is required reading for anyone wanting to keep up on attitudes of importance to potential jurors.
As Editor of The Jury Expert since 2008, I’m happy to share the table of contents of our new Winter 2016 issue! As always, The Jury Expert is brought to you free of charge by the excellent trial consultants who write for us and by the academic researchers who take their time to summarize their research and share it so we can use it in our day-to-day work for litigation advocacy.
Richard Gabriel takes a close look at the new television show ‘Bull’ and muses about how the show does and does not represent reality as well as how it may affect perceptions of the justice system by potential jurors (who do watch TV).
Stepping back, Richard Gabriel teaches us how television shows (like ‘Bull’ but certainly not limited to ‘Bull’) can help us craft more effective courtroom narratives.
Rebecca Valez, Tess M.S. Neal, and Margaret Bull Kovera team up to offer a primer on persuasion. What modes of persuasion will work best in the testimony of your expert witness? Then we have trial consultant responses from Jennifer Cox and Stan Brodsky, John Gilleland, and Elaine Lewis and a final reply from the authors.
Jason Barnes succinctly tells us how graphics can result in your words telling a much more effective story–even doubling comprehension of the listener.
Andrew Luttrell offers this intriguing strategy (based on his research) to make attitudes stronger and more influential. Trial consultants Sonia Chopra and Charli Morris react to his work with commentary on how they would use this research in day-to-day litigation advocacy.
They are always present and always silent. But what is going on in the minds of those dutiful court reporters as they type everything said in cases ranging from the mundane to the traumatizing? Claire E. Moore, Stanley L. Brodsky, and David Sams talk to court reporters and share their perspectives and coping strategies.
Mykol Hamilton and Kate Zephyrhawke share how to uncover bias in change of venue surveys in criminal cases by using alternate wording for time-honored questions that result in very different answers (and higher bias).
Image is The Jury Expert logo
While you may think you have heard this line recently, this is really (based on new research) what most of us think about ourselves. It is called the “better than average effect” and it is very persistent. We might smirk at politicians who actually say things like this aloud, but that’s only because we tend to keep those thoughts to ourselves. We (persistently) view ourselves as just better than others, and of course, two new research studies underscore this point.
The first study (Tappin & McKay) recruited 270 adults and asked them to judge the desirability of 30 traits representing agency (e.g., hard-working, knowledgeable, competent), sociability (e.g., cooperative, easy-going, warm) and moral character (e.g., honest, fair and principled). Participants also were asked to indicate how desirable the trait was. how much this specific trait described both the average person and how much it described themselves.
While the agency and sociability traits were rated variably, almost all the participants rated themselves much higher on moral character than they rated the average person.
In an intriguing secondary finding, while the researchers found that overall self-esteem was not related to feelings of superiority, overall self-esteem was related to a sense of moral superiority.
In the second study (Howell & Ratliff), researchers used data from the Project Implicit website where people take various psychological tests that measure unconscious or implicit biases. They focused on people who took tests involving weight biases (these are tests that ask how much you—and the average person—prefer thin people to fat people).
Once again, participants rated themselves as less biased against fat people than the average person was and when given feedback that they were indeed biased against fat people, they were defensive. The more they had rated themselves as unbiased, the more defensive about fat bias feedback they were. They were then asked whether they thought the test was valid—unsurprisingly, they did not think it was valid since it contradicted their self-assessments.
The problem with this belief that we are better than others, both in terms of moral superiority and in our belief that we are less biased than others (which apparently we all share) is that it stops us from honestly assessing ourselves. Therefore, we are prevented from taking action to combat our own prejudices and biases (since we don’t think—or won’t admit—that we have them). Typically, when we hear information about those who are biased or less good than we are, we presume the speaker is talking to “those other people” and tune out.
From a litigation advocacy perspective, these studies have important implications for witness preparation, case narrative, and voir dire. We have discussed the importance of knowing when to raise juror awareness of their own biases and when to stay silent on this blog before. We’ve also posted before on when “playing the race card” works and when it doesn’t work.
This research seems to indicate the importance of using those previously published guidances to direct your decisions about witness preparation, voir dire and case narrative in your specific case. Additionally, it will be important to share “redeeming” information on your client’s involvement in positive activities and your client’s life reflecting the values shared universally by jurors (e.g., family, community, education, volunteerism, et cetera).
Tappin, B., & McKay, R. (2016). The Illusion of Moral Superiority Social Psychological and Personality Science DOI: 10.1177/1948550616673878
Howell JL, & Ratliff KA (2016). Not your average bigot: The better-than-average effect and defensive responding to Implicit Association Test feedback. The British Journal of Social Psychology. PMID: 27709628
Earlier this week, we wrote on the question of whether those who have a higher score on the Need for Cognition Scale are just lazy (and the answer was no, not really). If you read this blog regularly, you know that bias is where we work and focus. We also like a curious juror (sometimes) and today we focus on how curiosity can address bias by helping jurors make wiser decisions informed by new data.
You may know the authors of this paper for their work at the Cultural Cognition Project (a collaboration among filmmakers, philosophers and psychologists) and the Cultural Cognition blog—both housed at Yale Law School. We also want to be sure you know the author of the plain language interpretation of this paper—Tom Stafford who operates the MindHacks blog focusing on neuroscience and psychology. Stafford wrote an article (based on this paper) for the BBC Future that is user-friendly and easy to understand for those who want to be sure they would like to dive into the full academic article. Stafford introduces the Cultural Cognition group paper with these disheartening sentences:
…people with the most education, highest mathematical abilities, and the strongest tendencies to be reflective about their beliefs are the most likely to resist information which should contradict their prejudices. This undermines the simplistic assumption that prejudices are the result of too much gut instinct and not enough deep thought. Rather, people who have the facility for deeper thought about an issue can use those cognitive powers to justify what they already believe and find reasons to dismiss apparently contrary evidence.
He sets up the Kahan et al. academic article as containing a possible answer to this maddening reality (and thus piques your curiosity to read the full paper). Or at least it piqued our curiosity. What the researchers wanted was to see if the growing political ideology divide would predict reactions to science information. So they devised a measure of how much scientific information/knowledge individual participants had and then checked to see if their political ideology (conservative versus liberal) would be more important than their pre-existing science knowledge when it came to hot button issues like global warming and fracking.
And it was— most scientifically informed liberals judged issues like global warming and fracking as dangerous to people, while most scientifically informed conservatives think that there were fewer risks.
In other words, political ideology was more important than pre-existing science knowledge and education when it came to views toward polarizing topics such as global warming or fracking.
These researchers though, had also devised a second measure—this one assessing science curiosity. And how they structured the curiosity measure was very creative. They disguised the measure as a general social marketing survey wherein participants were asked to identify their interests in a wide variety of items related to sports, finance, politics, popular entertainment and so on. Ultimately, they had a 12-item scale to measure Science Curiosity. They also allowed participants to express a preference as to whether they preferred to read a science story that would confirm their beliefs or surprise them.
What they found was that participants who scored higher on the curiosity scale were more likely to choose the story that would disconfirm their preexisting beliefs (that is, it would surprise them) and the participants enjoyed that process of surprise.
The researchers conclude their paper as follows:
Together these two forms of evidence paint a picture—a flattering one indeed—of individuals of high science curiosity. On this view, individuals who have an appetite to be surprised by scientific information—who find it pleasurable to discover that the world does not work as they expected—do not turn this feature of their personality off when they engage political information but rather indulge it in that setting as well, exposing themselves more readily to information that defies their expectations about facts on contested issues. The result is that these citizens, unlike their less curious counterparts, react more open mindedly, and respond more uniformly across the political spectrum to the best available evidence.
From a litigation advocacy perspective, if we can identify those potential jurors who are curious and enjoy the surprise of learning new things that potentially disconfirm pre-existing beliefs—we have an increased chance of getting them to listen to case facts and come to a different conclusion than they may have come to before hearing the new information. What we have to do is figure out how to surprise them and we have several blog posts on what happens to our brains when we experience surprise.
You can read more about the development of the initial Science Curiosity Scale at the SSRN website.
Kahn, Landrum, Carpenter, Helft, & Jameson (2016). Science curiosity and political information processing. Advances in Political Psychology.
Full-text of this article is here: http://www.culturalcognition.net/browse-papers/science-curiosity-and-political-information-processing.html