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This issue has been the banner of a number of well-known male bloggers who encourage their readers to pile on [with their generally anonymous screen names] when commenters do not agree with the blogger.

These bloggers make comments like, “it’s my blog and I make the rules” to justify boorish behavior. Granted. We don’t choose to interact with bullies—online or otherwise. We have been the subject of the entire spectrum of comment for our writing over the years of The Jury Room, including bizarre and wildly over-the-top trash-talking from a few other bloggers. We do not like it. We ignore it. We move on–as does our readership.

So we were glad to see this article released by the Pew Research Center on Online Harassment in 2017. The really good news is, they released a survey on the same topic in 2014 and so can compare some of the data to see if online harassment is increasing. In a word? Yes. Pew begins by introducing the problem of online harassment this way:

To borrow an expression from the technology industry, harassment is now a “feature” of life online for many Americans. In its milder forms, it creates a layer of negativity that people must sift through as they navigate their daily routines online. At its most severe, it can compromise users’ privacy, force them to choose when and where to participate online, or even pose a threat to their physical safety.

As usual, Pew offers information on just whom they surveyed. In this case, they surveyed 4,248 nationally representative US adults and found that 41% have been harassed themselves and 66% have witnessed the harassment of others online. In some cases, the behaviors are nuisance behaviors like name-calling or efforts to embarrass someone, but 18% of Americans (that is, nearly 1 in 5) “have been subjected to particular severe forms of harassment online, such as physical threats, harassment over a sustained period, sexual harassment, or stalking”.

Social media platforms are an especially harassment-prone area but there are multiple places survey respondents report they have been harassed. Most of them believe harassment is facilitated by the anonymity offered by the internet (and, we would add, the frequent use of pseudonyms). Here are a few of the numbers Pew offers on how many Americans have experienced harassment.

41% of respondents [increased from 35% in 2014] have been personally subjected to at least one type of online harassment: 27% were called offensive names, 22% say efforts were made to intentionally embarrass them, 10% were physically threatened, and 6% reported sexual harassment. The 41% total includes those who’ve experienced particularly severe forms of harassment (Pew defines this as stalking, physical threats, sexual harassment, or harassment over a sustained period of time).

Young adults (aged 18-29) are especially singled out for harassment (67% have been harassed—41% severely). At the same time, 30-49 years olds experience harassment frequently as well (49%—up 10% since 2014). Americans age 50 and older report harassment at a lower rate (22% also up 5% since 2014).

Harassment online is typically very personal. 14% reported being harassed for political views, 9% for their physical appearance, 8% for their race or gender, 5% for their religion, and 3% for sexual orientation.

When we look at specific racial groups, 25% of Blacks have been harassed online for race or ethnicity as have 10% of Hispanics. The number among Whites is much lower at 3%. In terms of gender, women (11%) are twice as likely as men (5%) to report having been targeted as a result of gender.

62% of Americans see online harassment as a major problem and only 5% think it is not at all a problem. There are significant gender differences of opinion that Pew addresses in detail when it comes to the problems with online harassment. There are also significant differences among those who have been severely harassed (regardless of gender) and these differences include serious emotional distress and damage to their reputations.

These are good things to review at the report itself to help you understand how the exact same behavior is perceived so very differently based on both gender and experiences online. There is also disagreement on who should manage online civility. Some think it is the responsibility of online services while others think the services should just offer better tools to help people address harassment online. Still others think bystanders witnessing abusive behavior online should play a direct role in stopping it.

In addition to the actual survey, Pew also includes a Q&A article explaining how and why they chose to study online harassment. If you are interested in a brief summary rather than reading the entire article (which isn’t that long), they also have a key points summation.

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We mentioned this scale last week in a combination post but decided it deserved a post of its own as with other scales we’ve featured here in the past. You are likely aware of the terms “driving while black” or “flying while brown” and this scale means to document that experience of discrimination and accompanying health impact. Despite a plethora of research on general stress and race-related stress—the researchers developing this scale say they “are not aware of any psychometric instruments that specifically focus on assessing Black men’s experiences with law enforcement discrimination”.

In order to develop a valid scale, the researchers did “exploratory qualitative interviews” with 90 Black men from three towns in the state of Georgia (in the US). From those interviews, the researchers developed 8 “distinct dimensions” of negative experience with the police:

being accused of drug-related behavior, being unfairly pulled over while driving, being unfairly stopped and searched, being assumed a thief, experiencing verbal abuse, experiencing physical abuse, unfair treatment associated with attire, and being unfairly arrested.

Their next step was to develop scale items (i.e., questions) based in the 8 dimensions they identified through the 90 qualitative interviews. They tested the questions generated in a couple of focus groups by asking focus group members to consider the individual questions and to talk with the researchers about their thought processes as they answered the questions. They revised the questions following the focus group feedback and followed up a second time with individual interviews of another sample of 15 Black men. The researchers again sought feedback on question content and thoughts associated with the questions. They were then ready to pilot test 8 questions to a small group of 22 men.

They screened the men with the following “filter question”: “Have you had any experiences with police or law enforcement in the past year?” Thirteen of the 22 men responded “Yes” and they were asked to complete the questionnaire. After this phase of scale development, they changed the “filter question” time period from one year to 5 years to get a larger experience base to sample and dropped the overall scale length from the initial 8 questions to the following five questions.

In the past five years, how often have police or law enforcement…

  1. …accused you of having or selling drugs?
  2. …pulled you over for no reason while you were driving?
  3. …been verbally abusive to you?
  4. …been physically abusive to you?
  5. …treated you unfairly because of how you dress?

The final effort of scale validation used 1,264 Black men who ranged in age from 18 to 65 years with an average age of 43.99. Participants were recruited via a random-digit-dial method in four Georgia counties (Fulton, DeKalb, Lowndes, and Muskogee) located in three metropolitan areas (Atlanta, Columbus and Valdosta). Basically the interviewers called random numbers and asked if any Black males lived at the phone number. Those that did not hang up on them were asked if there was more than one Black male residing at the address and if yes, a single Black male at that phone number was selected for participation. Each Black male was asked all five questions on the PLE Scale.

Here is what they found:

Younger men had higher scores on all of the scale questions (including the filter question) when compared to older men.

Men with lower incomes scored higher on the scale questions and reported more accusations of drug abuse, more physical abuse, and more unfair treatment because of attire than men reporting higher incomes.

Men with less education reported more accusations of drug abuse, being pulled over, more unfair treatment due to attire, and more general experiences (in response to the filter question) compared to men with more education.

Men who had been in prison reported higher frequencies on all questions on the scale than did men who had no history of incarceration.

Higher scores on the scale were associated with more racial discrimination experiences and depressive symptoms.

The researchers believe this scale is culturally rooted in the experiences of Black men and can aid in describing the impact of police behaviors on Black men in a consistent way. From a litigation advocacy perspective, this scale may be used to help educate jurors on the day-to-day experiences of Black men as they encounter police and law enforcement officers.

English, D, Bowleg, L, del Rio-Gonzalez, M, Tschann, J Agans, RP Malebranche, DJ 2017. Measuring black men’s police-based discrimination experiences: Development and validation of the Police and Law Enforcement (PLE) Scale. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 25(2), 185-199.

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We’ve written about eyewitnesses and problems with accuracy here often. Today we have an article that tells us 242 people were wrongly identified by eyewitness testimony and served years in prison prior to being exonerated by DNA testing. Researchers at Florida Atlantic University wondered how memory in people might be altered by police use of “individual mugshots, an array of mugshots, composite sketches, and lineups” as well as subtle innuendos. Specifically, they wanted to answer this question:

Does presenting a picture along with a question like ‘is this the person who did it?’ create an association between those two things that could then cause an eyewitness to later falsely remember seeing that person doing that action?”

The researchers used 80 undergraduates (median age 19 years) and 40 “older adults” (median age 71 years) to test their question. Each participant was shown a series of videos snippets of actors doing simple actions and were then instructed to remember which actor did which task. The researchers created 84 mugshots from these video snippets and also created a series of various scenarios of the events depicted in the video snippets. Each participant was shown two mugshots: one was an actor who’d appeared in the video snippets and the other was a new, random actor (who had not been in the video snippets). They completed this task 36 times (each time choosing either one of the mugshots or neither of the mugshots as the person who had completed each task). They were also asked how confident they were in their identification on each of the 36 individual trials.

As participants looked at the mugshots, they were asked a question like “which of these people did you see watering a plant?”. After the mugshot presentations, the 40 older adults and half of the younger adults (another 40) were tested immediately to see how much they are able to recognize correctly. The remaining (40) younger adult were brought back three weeks later to be tested again. And what did the researchers find? It varied by age.

Both younger and older participants were more likely to falsely recognize events if the actors appearing in those events had also appeared in the mugshots.

For older adults, mugshot viewing meant they experienced a sense of familiarity when they saw the actor performing in the video snippets even if a different action had been asked about when they viewed the mugshots. (The researchers say this likely meant the older adults recognized the familiar face, but were unable to call up the source or reason for their familiarity.)

This finding leads the researchers to hypothesize that the viewing of mugshots itself may make a face seem familiar to the older adult.

Younger adults were more likely to falsely recognize a suspect if the mugshot of the actor was accompanied by a question about the action the actor was now seen performing in the video snippets. (The researchers think this indicates the young adults formed a specific association between the pictured actor and the queried action which caused them to falsely recall the actor performing the queried action.)

This finding leads the researchers to hypothesize that the viewing of the mugshot, when coupled with the question of whether this person committed a certain act, may leave the younger witness overly confident that they saw something they did not actually see.

The researchers indicate this is (yet another) concerning finding for eyewitness testimony. They express concern that this type of false memory can lead to a “high level of confidence, especially in younger eyewitnesses” since they firmly believe they “saw” the suspect committing the crime. And we have other data to say high confidence in an eyewitness is very persuasive to jurors. The researchers suggest strategies for eye-witness testimony also recommended in prior research.

After viewing mugshots, an eyewitness should not be asked for further identifications. For example, if there are multiple eyewitnesses, only some should be exposed to mugshots and the others can make their identification from a lineup.

If there is only one witness, they will likely be asked to identify the perpetrator in the early stages of the crime’s investigation. This means their memory could be contaminated as the investigation continues. Thus, the literature suggests, “other forensic evidence” should be used to support the witness testimony.

From a litigation advocacy perspective, it is in your best interest to carefully examine the process through which eyewitnesses have been led during the investigatory phases. When memory is so very easy to contaminate (and we know eyewitness testimony is notoriously invalid), it is important to consider educating the jurors on eyewitness errors.

The problem is (as mentioned above) that a falsely confident eyewitness can be a compelling factor in jury deliberations. And in at least 242 cases, those confident eyewitnesses were very, very wrong.

Kersten, AW, Earles, JL (2016). Feelings of familiarity and false memory for specific associations resulting from mugshot exposure. Memory and Cognition, 45(1): 93.

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Recently we saw the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia (1967) which ruled marriage across racial lines was legal throughout the US. In honor of this milestone, Pew Research Center has released a series of articles examining intermarriage in the US. We think it a good use of blog space to update you on the frequency of intermarriage in this country (which is rising—just like the US population is becoming increasingly racially diverse).

Less than a year ago (September 2016) , we posted on those who find interracial marriage “icky” so here are some prevalence numbers on intermarriage in the US. This posts reviews just a few of the pieces of information Pew shares across four different articles:

Intermarriage: 

10% of married Americans in 2015 had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity. Pew says that translates into 11M intermarried people in the US.

Since 1980, the percentage of Blacks who married someone of a different race or ethnicity has tripled (from 5% to 18%).

Whites have also experienced a dramatic increase in intermarriage since 1980 (from 4% to 11%) but they remain the least likely of all major racial and ethnic groups to marry someone of a different race or ethnicity.

Asian (29%) and Hispanic (27%) newlyweds are the two most likely groups to intermarry. Of those newlyweds who were also born in the US, the percentages are even high among Hispanics (39%) and Asians (46%).

Male Black newlyweds (24%) are more likely than female Black newlyweds (12%) to intermarry. The opposite gender patter is true for Asian newlyweds with 36% of Asian women intermarrying compared with 21% of Asian male newlyweds. (Pew says the gender comparisons among White and Hispanic newlyweds who intermarry are roughly similar.)

As the prevalence of intermarriage increasing, American attitudes toward intermarriage have also become more accepting. In the past 7 years, says Pew, the number of Americans saying marrying someone of a different race is good for society has risen from 24% to 39%. Similarly, opposition to intermarriage is undergoing an even more dramatic decline according to Pew—although there is a sharp partisan divide in attitudes toward intermarriage. (Democrats and Independents leaning Democrat (49%) say intermarriage is a good thing for our society but only 28% of Republicans and Independents leaning Republican agree.)

Intermarriage also varies by education with 46% of Hispanic newlyweds with a college degree intermarrying (as compared to 16% with a high school diploma or less). Among Black newlyweds with a college degree, 21% intermarry compared to those with some college (17%) or a high school diploma or less (15%).

Cohabitation with a partner of a different race or ethnicity

Cohabitation is on the rise (6%) in the US, while marriage is declining (although half of American adults are married). Cohabitants with a partner of a different race or ethnicity (18%) are similar in number to married people in the US (17%) in an intermarriage.

Cohabitation with someone of a different race or ethnicity also varies by age or generation. It is likely not surprising that Millennials and GenXers (about 20% each) have a higher rate of living with a partner of a different race or ethnicity than do Boomers (13%) and Silents (9%).

Cohabitation also varies by race and ethnicity (much like marriage) in the US. White adults are least likely to cohabit with a partner of a different race or ethnicity (12% compared with 11% of White newlyweds). Black cohabitants (20%) and Hispanic cohabitants (24%) also loosely mirror the intermarriage rates among Black (18%) and Hispanic (27%) newlyweds. Asian cohabitants with partners of a different race or ethnicity (46%)show a very different pattern from Asian newlyweds (29%).

Education level and cohabitation mirrors the numbers among newlyweds with a partner of a different race or ethnicity, with those with more education somewhat more likely to have a significant other of a different race or ethnicity.

Metropolitan area variations in intermarriage 

It is likely not surprising that intermarriage is more common in metropolitan areas (18% of newlyweds) than in rural areas (11%).

There is huge variation in metro areas with Honolulu, Hawaii (42%) having the highest share of intermarried newlyweds, compared to Las Vegas, Nevada and Santa Barbara, California coming in at a tie for second (at around 30%). These are all very racially and ethnically diverse areas and Pew thinks the diversity contributes to higher intermarriage rates.

Intermarriage is also typically more common among members of the military and thus metropolitan areas with military bases nearby often have higher rates of intermarriage.

On the low-end in terms of frequency, you will see only 3% of newlyweds intermarry in Jackson, Mississippi and Asheville, North Carolina. Pew also reports rates in Greenville, South Carolina and Birmingham, Alabama (each about 6%), Chattanooga, Tennessee (5%), and Youngstown, Ohio (4%). Pew introduces some interesting numbers on population diversity here. While Jackson and Birmingham have fairly diverse populations—Asheville and Youngstown do not.

Pew explains by citing the geographical disparity in the number of those who say more interracial marriage is bad for society. Unlike in the West (4%) and Northeast (5%)—there are higher numbers of people disapproving of intermarriage in the South (13%) and the MidWest (11%). If you are curious about specific numbers for various metropolitan areas, Pew has that too!

From a litigation advocacy perspective, if race or ethnicity is a factor in your case (either salient or not salient with non-salient being the most dangerous in terms of racial biases)—this is a good resource to use to draw initial hypotheses (for testing in pretrial research) regarding which jurors may be least biased against your case facts.

Before we had this kind of data, we would ask ourselves some simple questions that still appear to be worthwhile, based on the research.

Which jurors are likely to have had genuine relationships with people [ethnically] similar to my client?

Which jurors are likely to show more open-mindedness toward my client?

Which people are likely to be uncomfortable or opposed to intermarriage?

The research is largely what would have been predicted. If there is somehow an issue in your case about intermarriage, younger and better-educated people are more tolerant, while older and less well-educated are most opposed. Maybe it is simply a function of exposure and life experience, or discomfort with the pace of social change in those who may be more rooted in the past. In any case, intolerance has to be considered a factor.

May 18, 2017. Intermarriage across the US by metro area. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/interactives/intermarriage-across-the-u-s-by-metro-area/

May 18, 2017. In US metro areas, huge variation in intermarriage rates. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/interactives/intermarriage-across-the-u-s-by-metro-area/

May 18, 2017. Intermarriage in the U.S. 50 Years After Loving v. Virginia. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/05/18/intermarriage-in-the-u-s-50-years-after-loving-v-virginia/

June 8, 2017. Among US cohabiters, 18% have a partner of a different race or ethnicity. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/08/among-u-s-cohabiters-18-have-a-partner-of-a-different-race-or-ethnicity/

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Recently, several articles have come out on Millennials and women but neither were enough to fill an entire post—so we’re combining them into a single post so that we do not miss passing on the information.

“Psychologically scarred” Millennials are “killing industries”

This article is almost funny but they are blaming Boomers (the parents of the Millennials) for the “industry-killing” habits of the Millennials. They quote Millennials who say this is “just some more millennial-blaming BS” and apparently, headlines saying Millennials have “killed off” another corporation or even industries are very common.

The buying habits of Millennials are very different from their parents’ habits. They do not, according to this article in the Business Insider, buy napkins, play golf, buy homes or cars, nor do they want to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings or Applebee’s. They have also been accused of damaging industries like retail in general, movies, Home Depot, the love of running, McDonald’s, wine, classiness (this is pretty funny although it is hardly an ‘industry’), the diamond industry, the crowdfunding industry, and the credit industry.

Naysayers say it isn’t the Millennial Generations fault—no, no, no! It is the fault of their Boomer parents who created the environment that has “restricted their income and shaped their financial perspective”. An analyst at Morgan Stanley (whom, we are sure, has no financial interest in this generation at all) says the Millennials have “a very significant psychological scar” from the great recession. They want to avoid risk and they enjoy independent restaurants more than chain restaurants.

“Aspirational banking” and the Millennial

Recently, my 20-something daughter related a story to me about a friend who banked with a well-known bank and was concerned about their ethical failings widely reported in recent times. She told him she had been happy with her (also well-known) bank and he reacted dramatically, “The man who founded that bank had very poor ethics and so I could never bank there”. She thought it was amusing that while her friend’s bank was in current ethical issues — he would dismiss her bank due to the founder (who died in 1913).

Later when I saw this article from JWT Intelligence, I sent it to her. It is likely related to the “industry-killing” habits described earlier in this post but explains in detail how the financial industry is attempting to adapt and survive by appealing to Millennial’s spending practices. The Millennial wish to have their values reflected in the organizations they support appears to be resulting in banks working on online platforms and apps while simultaneously attempting to be transparent and honest.

Every entrepreneur responds to opportunities and this situation is no different. There’s an app for that. The American bank, Aspiration, has launched a new feature on their app to allow customers to see how their spending decisions line up with their personal values. The app is called The Aspiration Impact Measurement (AIM). In response to the belief that Millennials are not just concerned but feel an obligation to the planet, other companies are launching apps to measure the carbon footprint of your purchases as well as sustainable investment options.

Who’s smarter? Men or women? Answers vary across the life cycle

When we are five years old, boys think boys are smarter and girls think girls are smarter. Not long after (about age 6 according to Sociological Images), gender stereotypes kick in and girls agree with boys—boys are smarter (and boys agree). The author (a sociologist) thinks much of this is passed down from parents (who are more likely to ask Google if their son is a genius and more likely to ask Google if their daughter is attractive). Sigh.

Let’s fast forward to college when most of these folks leave home. Again, the trend continues. Males overestimate male achievement in the sciences and underestimate female achievement in the sciences. Need facts? In a 2016 study, male students with a 3.0 GPA were estimated as “equally smart” to female students with a 3.75 GPA. It continues after college when “More so than women, men go into and succeed in fields that are believed to require raw, innate brilliance, while women more so than men go into and succeed in fields that are believed to require only hard work.”

Reading the rest of this post does not get better. There are many studies showing the diminishment of women’s intelligence and mercifully, only a few are documented here. But it is enough to know we still have a long way to go (baby).

The gender gap in criminal offending and heart rate

Recently we published a post on the gender differences in committing homicide and this is a follow-up piece of information that is odd at best. To clarify, this study is not about homicide but about criminal behavior in general. The researchers conclude that the lower resting heart rate of men “partly explains the higher rate of criminal offending”. We encourage you to read the rest of this press release since there is limited gender comparison in the literature on criminal offending.

“Researchers examined data from a longitudinal study that measured the heart rate of participants at age 11 and found that heart rate partly explains gender differences in both violent and nonviolent crime assessed at age 23.”

Is taking maternity leave a bad thing for women?

According to new work with participants from both the US and the UK—women are “damned either way” on maternity leave. The authors summarize these findings as follows:

Women who choose to take maternity leave are seen as less competent at work and less worthy of organizational rewards.

Women who choose not to take maternity leave are seen as worse parents and less desirable partners.

Reading information like this is disheartening. But then, on the other hand, we have programs like the one highlighted in this article on my niece who recently had a baby. There are good things happening. And we have a way to go.

An update on Andrea Yates who drowned her five children to “protect them from Satan”

This book chapter (also available at SSRN) updates us on the original trial facts and the eventual retrial and finding of not guilty by reason of insanity. Despite the fact that this case educated the world on postpartum depression and psychosis, according to the author, no real changes have been made in Texas’ insanity law.

This chapter explains how the states definition of insanity “influenced the first trial and both constrained and confused how the jury could view Yates’ actions”.

Deborah W. Denno. (2017). Andrea Yates: A Continuing Story About Insanity. In The Insanity Defense: Multidisciplinary Views on Its History, Trends, and Controversies, p. 367- 416 (Mark D. White, Ed. 2017) (Cal.: Praeger) Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2909041. On SSRN: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2909041.

Thekla Morgenroth, Madeline E. Heilman. (2017)  Should I stay or should I go? Implications of maternity leave choice for perceptions of working mothers. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 72, p 53-56.

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