Archive for the ‘Generation or Age of Juror’ Category
When facing a panel of prospective jurors for voir dire and jury selection it is important that you update your perceptions of who these people are in 2017. It is hard to keep up with change and to replace our outdated ideas of “how North America is” but here is some data to help you do just that. These facts are wonderful perspective changers and we hope some of them will surprise you (since that will help you remember and update your perceptions of those potential jurors).
“Normal America is not a small town of white people”
The people over at Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com site did us an incredible service with this article first published in spring 2016. So—before you go look, when you think of “normal America”, what picture comes to mind? For those of you who think of a scene more consistent with 1950s America, this is a must-read. Things, times, our citizens and what is now “normative” has changed a lot since the 1950s. Here’s a look at the communities most like 1950s America and the communities most like the America of the present. The two sets of communities are incredibly different. It is a nod to why it is so very important to know the demographics of your venire but also an imperative to update that mental picture you have of “normal America”. We are so not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
Digital news and followup by race of online news consumer
So…when you think of who reads news online and who follows up on that news—would you think those who follow-up more likely to be Black or White? You don’t have to answer out loud,—just think to yourself and read on. Pew Research just published an article based on questioning more than 2000 online news consumers twice a day for a week.
As part of that questioning, Pew asked the news consumers if they took any of six pre-identified follow-up actions: speaking with someone either in person or over the phone; searching for additional information; posting, sharing or commenting on a social networking site; sending an article to someone by email or text message; bookmarking or saving the news for later; and commenting on a news organization’s webpage.
As a reminder, you are predicting whether Black or White online news consumers are more likely to do any of these six follow-up actions. Got your prediction? Here’s what Pew found:
Black online news consumers preformed at least on of these actions 66% of the time on average. For Whites it was 49%.
There are other fascinating differences by race in this recent report from Pew. You can read the entire (brief and succinct) summary here.
Who counts as Black anymore?
This is an opinion piece that mentions the Dark Girls and Light Girls documentaries and the difficulties both groups (Blacks with dark skins and Blacks with light skins) face in being Black in the current day. The author encourages us to stretch (and update) our perceptions of what constitutes race and Blackness. A worthwhile read from the website The Conversation.
How many US homes have televisions?
Here’s another shifting reality. In the not too recent past, most US homes had televisions and often multiple televisions. That is changing. Again, from the Business Insider: the number of homes that do not include a TV set has “at least doubled since 2009”. While the percentages are still low (2.6% of American homes now do not include a TV) they are growing quickly and are a reflection of people turning to computers and mobile devices to access media. Percentages of homes without televisions is expected to continue to increase as young people grow older and continue to use alternate screens for viewing programming.
Who reads newspapers anymore? Older or younger Americans?
Young Americans have been less likely to read newspapers than older Americans for some time. But, recently, Pew Research looked closely at newspapers with a more national focus (e.g., The New York Times, the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today). While readership of election news was roughly equal for USA Today, the other three (NYT, WaPo, WSJ) attracted more readers under 50 than over 50 when it came to election news coverage. This is different from the patterns for local newspaper which are read more by older readers. Pew concludes that digital outreach efforts are working for these national papers in attracting younger readership.
Just how common is crime by immigrants? (Not at all common.)
Despite ongoing political rhetoric about victims of crimes by immigrants, it is simply not a significant problem. The Business Insider summarizes the statistics this way:
According to a September 2016 study by Alex Nowrasteh at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, some 3,024 Americans died from 1975 through 2015 due to foreign-born terrorism. That number includes the 9/11 terrorist attacks (2,983 people) and averages nearly 74 Americans per year.
Since 9/11, however, foreign-born terrorists have killed roughly one American per year. Just six Americans have died per year at the hands, guns, and bombs of Islamic terrorists (foreign and domestic).
According to Nowrasteh’s analysis, over the past 41 years (January 1975–December 2015), and including the 9/11 attacks:
The chance an American would be killed by a foreign-born refugee terrorist is 1 in 3.64 billion per year, based on the last 41 years of data.
The chance of an American being murdered by an undocumented immigrant terrorist is 1 in 10.9 billion per year.
The chance an American could be killed by a terrorist on a typical tourist visa was 1 in 3.9 million.
This article contains tables of numbers that are easy to read and point out the reality behind the rhetoric. The political rhetoric is about fear and not about reality. Read beyond the rhetoric to get to the facts.
How America changed during Barack Obama’s Presidency
If you have looked at any of these changes with some level of surprise, it would also prove useful to look at another Pew Research report examining changes in America during the eight years of the Obama presidency. This report covers attitudes important in voir dire and jury selection as they reflect values and beliefs relevant to case decision-making. So many changes have taken place in the past eight years that it is staggering to see them all summarized in this report. There are sure to be some changes (and corresponding shifts in attitude) that will be related to your own upcoming cases.
We’ve written before about American attitudes toward China and Asians in general and are used to seeing knee-jerk negative reactions toward Asian companies or parties across the country as we complete pretrial research.
But, like other biases and attitudes all over the media these days, American attitudes toward China have been getting worse in the past decade. You likely know we hold Pew Research in high regard for measuring shifting attitudes in this country. We often look to their work to take a “national temperature” on various issues so we can then see if those attitudes are stronger or weaker in various venues in which we work. Earlier this month, Pew published a brief article on attitudes Americans have toward China and, as you might predict, our attitudes toward China are not particularly warm.
Here are a few highlights from the Pew report:
As you can see in the graphic illustrating this post (taken from the Pew site), American attitudes toward China are now (since 2015) more negative than the attitudes of Chinese citizens toward America. In fact, as of May 2015, the majority of Americans (55%) had unfavorable attitudes toward China.
It is more common for older (ahem, Pew says you are “older” if you are 50 years of age or above) Americans to view China unfavorably. However, negative views of China increased 21 percentage points among those aged 18 to 34 in the US between 2006 and 2016 (so it isn’t just the “old folks”).
US Republicans have consistently been more negative toward China than US Democrats. However, negative attitudes have increased among members of both political parties by more than 20 percentage points over the past decade.
American citizens see their country as declining while Chinese citizens see their country as ascending.
From a litigation advocacy perspective, it is imperative for you to be aware of the almost instantaneous reactivity to Chinese or Asian parties or products in your case. The vitriolic nature of the bias initially caught us off guard, but now we wait for it. Our various posts on negative attitudes we’ve seen in the literature and in our pretrial research (here, here, here, and here) may be useful for you to review in order to see ways the bias or negative attitudes arise. You may also want to review one of our perennially popular posts on when you want to talk about race and when you want to be very, very quiet.
Pew Research Center (February 10, 2017). Americans have grown more negative toward China over the past decade. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/10/americans-have-grown-more-negative-toward-china-over-past-decade/
The Gallup folks just published an update on LGBT adults in the US and we want to bring it to your attention to illustrate how societal change is happening and we need to keep up. We are going to highlight a few facts from the Gallup report but encourage you to read the story in its entirety.
For those interested in these things, this giant survey was conducted by telephone [60% cell phone and 40% land lines] with a random sample of 1,626,773 adults living in the US. They were all 18 or older, lived in all 50 states and in DC, and their responses were collected between June 2012 and December 2016. Of the 1.6M+ participants, 49,311 participants said “yes” to a question of whether they personally identified at LGBT.
Here are the highlights of what Gallup’s survey respondents told them:
10M US adults identify as LGBT (this is 4.1% of the population).
Millennials identifying as LGBT are up from 5.8% in 2012 to 7.3% in 2016 and are more than twice as likely as any other generation to identify as LGBT. In the same time period (2012-2016), the proportion of GenXers identifying as LGBTers remained fairly stable and Boomers identifying as LGBT decreased slightly.
More women identify as LGBT than do men.
Among ethnic minorities, the largest increase since 2012 in LGBT identification occurred among Asians and Hispanics. Gallup thinks this is likely affected by the differences in age compositions of these groups (with Asian adults being the youngest among race and ethnicity groupings and Hispanics coming in second).
Increases in LGBT identification were stable across all income and education groups (by 2016, there was “virtually no variation by education”).
Increases in LGBT identification were largely among those identifying as “not religious” (and this group is 3x more likely to identify as LGBT than those who say they are “highly religious”).
Gallup opines that Millennials are less concerned than other generations with sharing “private information” on surveys. They also think the social/cultural climate has changed since survey participants were teens and young adults and it is now more acceptable to identify as LGBT. Gallup cites the legalization of same-sex marriage to support this assertion.
Gallup also thinks it is important to note that all these changes have occurred in a span of only five years (2012-2016). They call this a “marked change” and comment that the US LGBT population has become “larger, younger, more female, and less religious”.
From a litigation advocacy standpoint, this is essential information. We are seeing more and more high-profile LGBT disclosures in the news. Gossip columns routinely report on celebrity statements on sexuality (no link to this one, you can find them on your own!). Most of us are aware of the relatively recent transgender transition of Caitlyn Jenner. Perhaps the most recent is the announcement from model Hanne Gaby Odiele that she was born intersex and had surgery she believes was unnecessary. The fact that LGBT’s are increasingly visible, their issues are discussed more openly, and (especially for younger people) LGBT folks are close friends, family, and—sometimes—themselves. And increasingly, that’s okay.
But not everywhere, or for everyone. As cases are planned and narratives developed, an awareness needs to be maintained of who your jurors might be, and what their experiences, values and beliefs may be. And that includes sexual identification as well as race, ethnicity, gender and age. It is one more variable to make sure you maintain awareness of, as it is clearly changing faster than ever before.
Gallup (January 11, 2017). In US, More Adults Identifying as LGBT.
We read so much for this blog (and just out of general curiosity) that we often find these small bits of information which don’t justify an entire blog post but that we want to share with you because they are just too good to ignore. Here’s another one of those combination posts that you simply must read!
Generational labels are so passé
We are so used to hearing generational labels (like Boomer, Gen Xer, Millennial) tossed about in marketing presentations and in casual conversation but Harvard Business Review thinks these labels are obsolete. These labels don’t add additional information and are increasingly used as a substitute for age ranges, says HBR. Further (they opine) the cut-off dates for generations are entirely arbitrary, and frankly, there is a fair bit of variability in what birth-years ranges are thought to apply to these labels. They suggest, rather than the generational name labels, we use age or even age ranges to describe groups of people.
They call this “old way” of using generational monikers “generational segmentation” and say it is an artifact of (way back when) when marketers could not easily do “individual level targeting”. It’s an interesting perspective that rings pretty true to our minds especially considering this recent post (and we’ve done a lot of generationally-themed writing). The most distorting aspect of the generational labels is that they are frozen in time—the members of each age cohort are often viewed as being alike in key ways, as if these characteristics don’t evolve as a person grows older. The “old way” combines generational identity (obviously, since a 30-year-old in 2017 is also a Millennial) with the idea that they are also a 30-year-old, period. That person will be 50 in 20 years, clearly a different stage of life, but they will still be a Millennial. How do we understand that? It is much more complicated. Just use actual age ranges, just like the cool kids at HBR.
Emoji’s and the pursuit of academic tenure
If you had considered this (although, in truth, who would?) you would have realized that the ever-more-popular emoji would be studied by academics in pursuit of tenure. And of course, that which was coming has now arrived. The researchers say that emojis (the modern version) and emoticons (the originals designed with punctuation symbols) have developed to communicate the appropriate facial expression to go with a string of text. The first reported use occurred in discussion forums in the 1980s (say the researchers) when this emoticon symbol 🙂 was included to communicate the message was meant in fun. Now, up to 92% of the online population uses emojis (the more modern version uses cartoonish emojis like this one 🤗). The researchers use easy to understand language (not) as they communicate the meaning behind emojis:
“They disambiguate the communicative intent behind messages, serve important verbal and nonverbal functions in communication, and can even provide insight into the users personality.”
“Drawing on the method of corpus linguistics, the bountiful occurrence of emojis in real-world online text provides a new means to examine the function of contemporary interactional communication and emotion portrayal.”
We don’t think we’ll be covering much of this work as it evolves but wanted you to be aware it is out there. Frankly, we think it is—how should we say? 💩
Persuasion landmines: When facts fail and your most salient points are the least informative
After more than 25 years, we still love doing pretrial research but it is still very common to see attorneys chewing peanut M&Ms in frustration while their important facts are dismissed (or ignored) by mock jurors. Here are two articles (both happened to be published in Scientific American just this month) to help you increase the likelihood your story will be heard and remembered accurately. The first article focuses on the reality that pre-existing beliefs will trump your facts when jurors listen to your narrative. The author summarizes the (frightening) research and then offers suggestions (six in all—most of which we’ve blogged about here before!) to try to convince your listeners to consider your information. It is well worth the 5-7 minutes it will take you to read.
The second article, uses the example of noting a person has purple hair to remember Amanda’s name (which means if Amanda changes her hair color, you will be stumped). The point of this article is to help us learn how to categorize important information accurately and not be side-tracked by red herrings like purple hair. The author talks to a researcher who says that if you want to overpower attention-getting facts (like purple hair), your counter-evidence needs to be eye-catching and quickly understandable. Let’s hear it again for the power of visual evidence!
Kaye LK, Malone SA, & Wall HJ (2016). Emojis: Insights, Affordances, and Possibilities for Psychological Science. Trends in Cognitive Sciences PMID: 28108281
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