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Archive for the ‘Generation or Age of Juror’ Category

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And maybe not! If you read our blog regularly, you know we like to write about generations. (And race, and tattoos, and gender issues, and other stuff too.) So it won’t surprise you to see us peering at one of the first articles we’ve seen to say the Millennial Generation is finally beginning to form into groups after “cataclysmic events that have occurred since 2008”. Yes, we remember that blog post we wrote back in early 2012 when a marketing firm tried to convince us there were 6 (count ‘em) types of Millennials. We didn’t see that characterization as useful but this one at least has some data behind it.

According to these writers, the ongoing “Great Recession of 2008” could shape the 17-23 year olds coming of age during the Recession because they experienced “limited job opportunities, greater student loan debt, a return to their parents’ households and a delay in becoming an economic adult” in comparison with older Millennials. In other words, the writers see the recession as a “defining moment” for younger Millennials. (We’ve written a lot on generational issues and you can see our work here on the blog as well as in The Jury Expert.)

These researchers looked at the values of 350 college juniors and seniors (aged 19 to 23; 54% male, 46% female) in the US and compared them to the values of 266 older Millennials (aged 27 to 31; 54% male, 46% female) to see if a new cohort (a group within a generation) was forming. The younger Millennials and the older Millennials completed the questionnaires at the same point in time–this was not a case of having measured the values and attitudes of older Millennials a few years ago when they were aged 19-23 and then comparing them to the values of those younger Millennials who are now in that same age range. Instead, the researchers simply measured the same things in both groups of Millennials at the same point in time. In brief, the researchers wanted to see if measurable differences between the younger Millennials and older Millennials existed in a group of behavioral descriptors and values.

There were no significant differences between the younger and older Millennials on the values of having confidence, being one’s own boss and being a part of a team. There were also no differences on the behavioral measures of multitasking and hopefulness about future opportunities. Both younger and older Millennials endorsed these items positively.

However, there were differences between the older and younger Millennials as follows:

Younger Millennials see less value in “piety” as measured by religious beliefs about maintaining virginity until marriage.

Younger Millennials see less value in “thrift” as measured by whether they see saving as more important than spending. (Older Millennials endorse thrift while younger Millennials are less enamored of thrift.)

To a lesser degree, younger Millennials are less patriotic (measured by faith in country and pride in country), less political (measured by voting behavior and current involvement in politics), less green (less likely to be avid recyclers), and less worried about making mistakes in life (it might happen).

The authors do some intense factor analysis and report that there is “strong support” for the idea that a new sub-cohort is emerging.

They report that younger Millennials have more of a “live for today” attitude and are more self-centric and pleasure-seeking. While there are questions as to whether this represents a phase of life (i.e., age effect) as opposed to a true generational shift, the authors see it as indicative of a true shift although they acknowledge the younger Millennials have not yet internalized the impact of the economy on their lives. (We should note here that there was no earlier comparison of how the now older Millennials would have scored on these measures when they were the age of the younger Millennials. It’s hard to say whether what we are seeing here is a true cohort differentiation/segmentation or simple maturing on the part of young adults.)

The older Millennials, according to the authors, are facing stressful circumstances with the plummeting economy and are struggling to cope. When they came of age the economy was less daunting then it has become. They face circumstances that require them to save (unlike the younger Millennials who’ve moved back in with Mom and Dad).

As a whole, write the researchers, this generation is paying less attention to politics and are less likely to vote than older generations. (Note: The data for this study was collected in 2009 prior to the reelection of Barack Obama in 2012. Millennials represented 19% of all voters and 60% favored Obama).

It’s hard to say at this point, whether these researchers are correct in their beliefs that a new and less careful cohort is emerging as younger Millennials come of age. And it’s more than simply the miss about whether Millennials would turn out in the 2012 re-election of Barack Obama.

There is typically a large shift in what is seen as important between the ages of 18 and 25 and so we tend to think college juniors and seniors are still a bit young to have clearly formed the principles that will guide their lives. Nonetheless, this was obviously a much more rigorous effort than that engaged in by a marketing company early in 2012. We simply think we need to wait longer for the emergence of specific cohort groups within this still very young and emerging generational group.

Debevec, K, Schewe, CD, Madden, TJ, & Diamond, WD (2013). Are today’s Millennials splintering into a new generational cohort? Maybe! Journal of Consumer Behavior, 12, 20-31

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catfishA few weeks ago, I was eating a late lunch and turned on the TV and watched the Katie Couric talk show for the first time. She was talking to two 20-something guests about the perils of online dating. They talked about ways to protect yourself from deceptive “catfishing” by using Google image search or examining social network profiles for inconsistencies and at one point Katie said “My gosh, you have to be like Columbo these days!”. Both of her young guests smiled politely but their blank faces made it clear they had no idea who Columbo was.

One of the guests was Nev Schulman from the movie Catfish. If you don’t know this story, Nev met a woman named Megan online who was gorgeous and a dancer and a singer and he fell in love. When he showed up on her doorstep to meet her in person, Megan turned out to be a 40-something housewife named Angela who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and caring for two disabled stepsons. Part of the reason Nev was on the Katie show was to advertise his new TV show (Catfish the TV show). In this show, Nev travels the country visiting people who are involved in online relationships with people who always seem to turn out to be imposters hiding behind fake profiles. He teaches them how to investigate their online loves and dispenses a blend of empathy and sincerity that is very likable while their fantasies crumble about their feet.

Shortly after I watched this show, I saw a story at Courthouse News about a woman suing Match.com for $10M because someone she met on their website “hid in her garage, stabbed her 10 times and kicked her in the head until she ‘stopped making the gurgling noise’”. She says Match.com didn’t warn her about the possibility of meeting “an individual whose intention was not to find a mate, but to find victims to kill or rape”. She did not sue her attacker. She couldn’t. He died in prison while “serving 28 to 70 years for killing an ex-girlfriend”.

Match.com begs to differ:

“What happened to Mary Kay Beckman is horrible, but this lawsuit is absurd,” Match.com said. “The many millions of people who have found love on Match.com and other online dating sites know how fulfilling it is. And while that doesn’t make what happened in this case any less awful, this is about a sick, twisted individual with no prior criminal record, not an entire community of men and women looking to meet each other.”

It isn’t as though these are isolated cases or very, very fringe behavior. These are sad, sad stories involving a pretty universal desire to be loved and cherished. It’s been hard to miss the publicity surrounding Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o and his own catfishing experience with a very unlucky (and then dead and then alive again) girlfriend. The “girlfriend” turned out to be a disturbed young man who once auditioned for the television show The Voice.

It’s a difficult issue. We’ve worked a couple of cases where people were assaulted by others they had met online. One case involved a minor girl and the other involved a grown woman. In both cases, the assailant lied about who they were, how old they were, and what their intentions were, while all the while enticing the victim to meet them. Both stories were horribly sad and life-changing for the victim. Yet, in both situations, our mock jurors said the fault lay with the victim for “lying to her mother and meeting this guy” or “telling him where she lived”. Jurors thought these women had learned a very hard and cruel lesson but they should not be compensated by the online service for using bad judgment.

There are discussions occurring as to how to respond from a legal standpoint to the perpetrators of these hoaxes. In our experience, jurors think these are examples of poor personal responsibility by the victim of the hoax. The online service was scrutinized, but overall the mock jurors felt that users of these services know that there is no vetting of community members, and anyone who assumes authenticity in online disclosures is, at best, naïve. This is an area we will keep up with as new definitions and practices emerge to keep up with our changing definitions of what constitutes a “relationship” in a social media world.

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new generationsWe 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.)

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You’ve seen our posts on wearing red (for both men and women) and the bounce you get in terms of perceived attractiveness and likability. But wait! New research says it doesn’t work for all of us!

There is some new research that confirms the results of prior research, saying once again that when men look at women wearing red they see those women as more attractive. And women expecting to interact with an attractive man were more likely to choose to wear a red shirt than a blue shirt.

The psychologists who do this research say this is not simply a Western phenomena but rather a seemingly hard-wired and universal preference/predilection as shown by recent research in rural Burkina Faso. (Of course, you already knew Burkina Faso is a landlocked and very poor area in West Africa.)

There is also something a little more disturbing being reported. And here it comes. Researchers in Germany wondered if red was equally flattering to women (in the eyes of heterosexual men) regardless of the woman’s age. They recruited participants to test this question from a shopping district and a university campus. As you perhaps can guess, no, red isn’t equally flattering to women regardless of age. At least not when it comes to making heterosexual men think of sex when they look at you.

The researchers recruited 60 young men–average age 24.7 years– and 60 (what the researchers labeled) “old men”–average age 53.5 years– who were presented with photographs of either a young female target (perceived to be about 23.7 years of age) or an “old female target” (perceived to be about 48.2 years of age). [Let’s agree that these characterizations of “old” are harsh and unreasonable, and just try to move on.] There were four photo variations (e.g., young target/white background, young target/red background, old target/white background, old target/red background) and one of the four photos was shown to every participant. The male research participants were asked the following three questions to determine sexual attractiveness [and we are not making this up]:

How much do you want to be intimate with this person?

How sexually desirable do you find this person?

How much do you want to have sex with this person?

German researchers do not mince words. Subjects were also asked a few other questions about the physical beauty, presumed intellect and likability of the female target. Finally, they were asked to estimate the age of the female target. And here are the (shocking) results:

Men (both old and young) found the young female target more sexually attractive than the old female target.

They found the young targets in front of the red background more attractive than the young targets photographed in front of the white background. As for the “old” target, no one really cared whether she was on a white or red background. There was no difference in how attractive she was described as being. Meh.

Both young and old men thought the young female target was equally sexually attractive. Old men thought the old female target more attractive than the young men did (so much for the cougar stereotype). In truth, the old men thought both young and old women equally sexually attractive (hence, the dirty old man stereotype). Takeaway: Everybody’s got a shot with Grandpa.

The young woman was seen as more physically attractive than the old woman. There were no differences in ratings of intellect or likability between the young woman and the old woman.

The researchers explain these results with hypotheses that are common among evolutionary psychologists and that make the rest of us (at least the “old women” among us) wince, gasp or growl. The researchers thought perhaps the young female target on the red background was more sexually attractive to the male participants because the “color red activates cognitive representations of ‘red-light districts’ in men, and the typical female sex worker is closer to 20 than 50 years old”. They further stick their feet in their mouth with the following: “It could also be that red is perceived as a cue to a woman’s ovulation, and our old target is clearly menopausal, so red is not a valid cue”. Evolutionary psychologists are not known for their wisdom in avoiding the application of gender stereotypes to explain their findings. It also makes one long for research on the dating aplomb of evolutionary psychologists. Not a romantic subgroup, apparently.

So. While we would say Tammy looks terrific in that red dress, this research would say it won’t help her be more persuasive or likable– in court or anywhere else. Red fades with time, and Tammy’s time has expired. Although old men will perhaps still leer since it seems as long as you are female, it works for them. Oy. Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman. Or maybe it becomes easier with time. Women in your 40’s or older: Wear the outfit you like the most, and to heck with what researchers say!

Elliot, A., Greitemeyer, T., & Pazda, A. (2012). Women’s use of red clothing as a sexual signal in intersexual interaction Journal of Experimental Social Psychology DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2012.10.001

Elliot, A., Tracy, J., Pazda, A., & Beall, A. (2013). Red enhances women’s attractiveness to men: First evidence suggesting universality Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49 (1), 165-168 DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2012.07.017

Schwarz, S., & Singer, M. (2013). Romantic red revisited: Red enhances men’s attraction to young, but not menopausal women Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49 (1), 161-164 DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2012.08.004

***We appreciate being included in the ABA Blawg 100 for the third year in a row! If you like our blawg, take a minute to vote for us here (under the Trial Practice category). Voting ends today–December 21, 2012. Thanks! Doug and Rita***

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Hydro-fracking and the Environment

Monday, October 1, 2012
posted by Douglas Keene

Few things are as frightening to us as the idea that our drinking water is contaminated. But this fear is a cornerstone of the debate as to whether hydro-fracking is the answer to our need for energy self-reliance or the slippery slope to contaminated drinking water and health declines for those living around hydro-fracking areas.

Hydraulic fracking [aka hydro-fracking] is a technique of recovering natural gas from underground geological formations that would otherwise not be sufficiently productive to be economical. By injecting fluids (water and chemicals) under high pressure into the gas well, fractures in the rock develop. After the injection procedure is complete, a successful hydraullic fracking procedure (also commonly referred to as “hydraulic fracturing”, “hydro-fracking”, “fracking” or “fracing”) results in higher rates of gas flow into the bore hole, and a more productive well.

It is unquestionably a very successful procedure for increasing well production, and one that has become heavily utilized in recent years. Since this technique has been employed, public concern over environmental impact on drinking water has skyrocketed in the gas field areas. Some local water supplies have developed a terrible taste. Others carry chemical concentrations in ground water that had not been previously noted.

The debate around hydro-fracking and the potential for ground water contamination as well as possible health impact is emotionally powerful. Proponents say fracking is misunderstood and it is a safe technique for accessing deeply buried energy resources. Opponents say we need to know more about the impact and that any risk to health and groundwater safety is too high.

We have a paper in the just released issue of The Jury Expert on hydro-fracking and the environment. In this paper, we generally describe typical arguments by both Plaintiffs and Defendants, but we will not attempt to weigh the scientific evidence that is typically presented in these toxic tort actions. Instead, we will focus attention on jurors, and the related concerns that litigants are going to face from jurors before the first word is spoken.

We use random surveys of registered voters, likely voters and citizens of various states to illustrate varying and similar attitudes in states where hydro-fracking is actively being done, actively being considered, or where it will likely not be done. We first looked at this topic about a year ago and little was publicly available. Now, the information available has exponentially increased as media attention has begun to carefully scrutinize the safety and environmental impact of the practice.

Take a look at our article and let us know what you think of it.

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