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Archive for the ‘Generation or Age of Juror’ Category

meaningfullifeWe believe the negative press on the Millennials (our 20-somethings and early 30-somethings) is simply what happens to all of our young people as they are judged (and found wanting) by older generations. And mostly we eventually grow up, mature, and become something different than we started out as–at least when viewed through the eyes of our elders.

We’ve written a lot about generations, both on our blog in brief posts, and in longer, complete articles over at The Jury Expert. We were glad to see an article over at the New York Times this week on the new sense of the Millennial’s as in search of meaning. The authors say the old descriptors of Millennials as “narcissistic and flaky and selfish” in both their professional and personal lives is giving way to a very different picture as the generation matures. Well! Imagine that. They are changing as they mature. Go figure. We are especially glad to see that Jean Twenge, historically a research purveyor of negative stereotypes of the Millennials is also changing her writing as these young people mature and new and different realities encroach on their lives.  We found fault in her earlier conclusions, and are happy to see that the gap in our perspectives is narrowing. 

At the risk of beating a dead horse, we would comment that external societal factors shape us all and we become more aware of those factors as we enter our young adulthoods. In a recent mock trial related to subprime mortgage failures, there were several younger 20-somethings who listened intently to (what for them was barely recalled) information, and then all said variations on “I was very young so I am sure this hit my parents hard, but I didn’t really understand the implications”. As adults, looking back on these events without emotional memories, these young people were just as appalled as those who had lived through the beginnings of the economic recession as adults with mortgages that were under-water.

Coming back to the point, the NYT article focuses on the impact of the Great Recession on the attitudes of the younger Millennials who came of age during that time (after 2008). While young people have always shown more concern for others during times of economic hardship, this “new normal” is virtually all that younger Millennials have known in their fledgling adult lives. Thus, say these writers, they are more focused on making a positive difference in the lives of others than they are on making lots of money and being financially successful. This focus, say the authors, will lead them to a more meaningful life. (One of the authors of this NYT article has written on the differences between a happy life (more internally driven–”takers”) and a meaningful life (more externally driven–”givers”) that you can find here.) Of course, the drive to find meaning is a primary life-stage objective for someone in their late teens and twenties, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Yet it is bound to strike some critical elders as indulgent and self-centered, and some prickly Millennials as offensively obvious.

It’s a nice article and one filled with positivity and hope. The comments section is quite different. There are comments by Millennials asking for understanding as they age up and addressing economic realities–like this one from Kalidan.

Kalidan: So the article says Millennials are searching for meaning. Sure. This is about as meaningful a finding as one that would say the homeless are in the search for wide open spaces and freedom, and therefore different and unique in their outlook. Millennials’ outlook is not one of choice; it is default. If they cannot have, even after college graduation, financial security – of course they choose the next best thing.

There are many more negative comments from older commenters than there are positive ones. It’s a sad and cynical and (as Maureen says in her comment below) bitter picture.

Ross: Millennials and their loved ones are trying hard not to notice the giant “L” tattooed on their foreheads. The poor unfortunates are the most oversold generation in history. First they were oversold on their own special talents and uniqueness in grade school with the relentless campaign of self-esteem building. Then they were oversold as achievers by a middle school system dependent on standardized test scores for funding. They were taught to how to take the test and little else. Then they were sold on a six-figure college education as the necessary gateway to their rightful and fore-ordained place in society. Graduation is cold shower time. The shock is seeing themselves for what they are: economically superfluous generation of men and women with a future of little but endless college-loan payments.

Victor: Nah, you got it right the first time. They are the most self-absorbed, narcissistic generation ever produced and stand as an omen to the end of an age.

Maureen: We all love our children, we all do our best. So many righteous opinions. The bitterness is breathtaking.

Our belief is that as the Millennials age up, they will begin to write about themselves, their experiences, their economic realities, and they will eventually drown out the naysayers and show us who they become. Like Gen X. We all know how they turned out 

For the fourth year in a row we have been honored with recognition from the ABA via inclusion in their 2013 list of the Top 100 legal blogs in the country. We work hard to blog consistently even when inundated with work and would appreciate your vote for us at the Blawg 100 site under the LITIGATION category. You will have to register your email just so you can’t vote 47 times. There are many worthwhile law blogs on this list so take some time to peruse. Thanks! Doug and Rita

Roy F. Baumeister, Kathleen D. Voh, Jennifer L. Aaker, & Emily N. Garbinsky (2013). Some key differences between a happy life and a meaningful life. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 8 (6), 505-516 DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.2168436

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Me me me Time coverTime Magazine did it again recently and came out with a cover story on how Millennials are so much more narcissistic than any of the rest of us older and more mature people. Time deserves credit for knowing how to sell magazines and how to fan controversy.

This is a generation that would have made Walt Whitman wonder if maybe they should try singing a song of someone else.

Not surprisingly (especially with quotes like that one!) the Time article resulted in a lot of controversy and comments from readers like these over at jezebel.com. It also spawned multiple cover imitators like these. In short, it’s a viral sensation. Apt for an article on the Millennials.

What’s intriguing is that all the irritation and outrage over this article simply shows most people didn’t read the entire thing. About half-way through the article, the focus shifts from “data” on Millennials to realities, and the message is very different from what is presumed from reading the first few pages.

While every Millennial might seem like an oversharing Kardashian, posting vacation photos on Facebook is actually less obnoxious than 1960s couples trapping friends in their houses to watch their terrible vacation slide shows. Can you imagine if the boomers had YouTube, how narcissistic they would’ve seemed?

And then Stein cites a really good TEDx talk by Scott Hess titled Millennials: Who They Are and Why We Hate Them.

The article also cites the YouTube video “You are Not Special” commencement speech for Wellesley High School in 2012. As you can see, this article really isn’t a hate piece on Millennials. Instead, it’s an eye-opening exploration into how all that “data” is simply misleading. Millennials are not just like us [Baby Boomers or Gen Xers]. They are different. Maybe they are better and maybe we are jealous. Much like Hess in his TEDx talk–Stein wonders if we can’t begin to see evolutionary advances as including the changes we see in generation after generation of young people throughout time. It isn’t a bad thing. It’s just what happens as we evolve.

So, yes, we have all that data about narcissism and laziness and entitlement. But a generation’s greatness isn’t determined by data; it’s determined by how they react to the challenges that befall them. And, just as important, by how we react to them. Whether you think millennials are the new greatest generation of optimistic entrepreneurs or a group of 80 million people about to implode in a dwarf star of tears when their expectations are unmet depends largely on how you view change. Me, I choose to believe in the children. God knows they do.”

After reading the internet reactions, we were primed to chew up this new Time article. As parents and boomers with good memories, we recall the natural narcissism of the 15-30 years. We’ve written a lot about generations and so we went, as usual, to the original source and found something refreshing and kind and thoughtful. If, of course, you actually read the entire article!

As an aside, there is an amusing video (at least amusing to a Boomer) on the 41-year-old (Gen X) author Joel Stein “being a Millennial for a Day”. Fail.

The New Greatest Generation. By Joel Stein and Josh Sanburn. Time. 5/20/2013, Vol. 181 Issue 19, p26. 8p.

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left_right_political_spectrum_011As you have probably noticed, we read a lot of research here at The Jury Room. We are looking for nuggets of knowledge or pearls of wisdom we can apply to our day-to-day practice of litigation advocacy. If you’ve read our work on generations you likely already know there is a relationship between age and ethnic prejudice, with the multiculturally-immersed Millennials being the most open-minded among us. But here’s an interesting study that looks at the relationship between ethnic prejudice, age and right-wing authoritarianism.

Right wing authoritarianism had a research heyday some decades ago and has enjoyed a sort of resurgence in the current work of researchers. Fortunately (or unfortunately) questions like these, from a 2005 update of the Right Wing Authoritarianism Scale, are rarely heard in voir dire (even in the most conservative venues):

Our country needs a powerful leader, in order to destroy the radical and immoral currents prevailing in society today. 

God’s laws about abortion, pornography and marriage must be strictly followed before it is too late, violations must be punished. 

It would be best if newspapers were censored so that people would not be able to get hold of destructive and disgusting material. 

If the society so wants, it is the duty of every true citizen to help eliminate the evil that poisons our country from within. 

But they appear routinely in research and we try to learn what we can. Sample 1 was collected in the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium by “aggregating data from six subsamples” collected between 2000 and 2010. The researchers used data from 577 men and 644 women with an average age of 43.9 years. Sample 2 was collected in the Netherlands in 2010 by an online survey company. This sample included 426 men and 374 women with an average age of 49.5 years.

Participants completed the Right-Wing Authoritarian Scale, a cultural conservatism scale, and the 8-item Subtle and Blatant Prejudice Scale. (How blatant you ask? Here’s a sample question: “We have to keep our race pure and fight mixture with other races”.  Again, not a likely question for voir dire.)

There was a relationship between age and prejudice (both subtle and blatant)  with older age resulting in higher levels of prejudice as well as stronger endorsement of right-wing attitudes.

Interestingly enough, the strength of right-wing attitudes increase with age. The researchers think as we age, we may derogate outgroup members to affirm our own self-worth. It calls to mind the [in]famous quote falsely attributed to Winston Churchill: “If you are not a liberal at 25, you have no heart. If you are not Conservative by 35, you have no brain.

While we can’t use these measures themselves (or items from them) in voir dire–the findings of this research important. There is a tendency for us to become less tolerant of others as we age. However, that may have little to nothing to do with the senior citizen potential juror in your venue. Instead, your task is to glean what you can from their responses and what you know about them as individuals.

Do they sit quietly, isolated from others or are they chatty with diverse others? Do they appear stern and angry and bitter? Do they proudly wear a Confederate Flag pin, a Daughters of the American Revolution scarf, or an ACLU tee shirt? You may think that sort of comparison is ridiculous. So, we think, is assuming your senior citizen can’t be fair in deliberating, can’t keep up in a high tech trial, and can’t relate to/understand complex case narratives. It isn’t about the statistical aggregate. It’s about the individual when it comes to voir dire. And you know what assuming does…

Franssen, V Dhont, K Van Hiel, A 2013 Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 23: 252-257.

Franssen, V., Dhont, K., & Hiel, A. (2013). Age-Related Differences in Ethnic Prejudice: Evidence of the Mediating Effect of Right-Wing Attitudes Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 23 (3), 252-257 DOI: 10.1002/casp.2109

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free-2-b-u-and-meUnless you live under a rock, you have heard about the Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO) book: Leaning In. She has been in the middle of a media whirlwind for the last few weeks. A couple of weeks ago, I turned the TV on while eating a late lunch and found myself watching the Katie Couric talk show with Sheryl Sandberg and other guests. They were actually talking about research, which is not what I expect to hear on an afternoon talk show! I finished my lunch and sat and watched the rest of the show. Then I went to the TED site to view Sheryl’s TED talk. Then I went to Audible.com and ordered the audiobook and ordered it in hard copy at Amazon as well. Intriguingly, the printed book is 2/3 text and 1/3 endnotes that offer complete research citations so you can go see ANY research study she discusses.

As I listened, it was clear that what Sheryl was doing was applying the social sciences research to the experience of women at work– her own experience and that of other women. I read a lot in this area so there was no particularly new research for me, but what was new was the way she brought that research to life by talking about how it made sense in her own life and in the lives of relatives and friends and women who’d written to her after they watched her TED talk. It wasn’t so much informative as it was meaningful.

I came of age in the late 70s and in the midst of the Free To Be You and Me heyday. I attended graduate school in the early 1980s and remember feeling as though women were on the cusp of change. I learned about generic he’s and the salary gap and women and our relationship to power. I was ready and I waited for things to change. And someplace along the way, the “change” we waited for never really came. So I am cheering Sheryl Sandberg. She is 11 years younger than I am and a Gen Xer. And she is saying things that make perfect sense to me although she is saying they won’t really come to pass for another generation. Which is both sad and, at this stage of my life, hopeful in an odd sort of way.

The original idea of societal hierarchical change making a place for women to step into in the workplace has not come to fruition. What Sheryl is saying is that we can’t keep waiting for that veritable Godot–we have to recognize our own internal obstacles and the way we shoot ourselves in the foot repeatedly and lean in to our goals and not sit back and wait to be invited.

If we choose to have children, we need to choose partners that support our careers and not partners who expect us to only support theirs.

We need to stop calling our girl children “bossy” and our boy children “leaders”.

We need to remain engaged in work and step up to new opportunities even while deciding (if we so decide) to have children.

When we turn down opportunities because it would be hard, sometime down the road, to do that job and have a family–we make ourselves more likely to choose not to return to work after our children are born. If, that is, we are fortunate enough to have that choice.

Reviewers either love her or hate her. In the book Sheryl says, “if a man had written this book he would be pilloried”. Absolutely. And she has been pilloried a few times herself by readers who (in my opinion) have misinterpreted her message (or perhaps have not actually read the book). But it’s a message long overdue and one all of us (male and female) can benefit from reading.

This book is a wonderfully approachable synthesis of the research on gender bias. She focuses on societal obstacles as well as internal obstacles to success and leadership in women. But it’s also an allegory of sorts on multiple isms out there. If you listen [ahem, read] her book with an ear to race, age, disability, sexual orientation, and other protected categories–it is truly an amazing accomplishment. This is an approachable, easy listening, non-threatening and informative plain language but intelligent book. Given the prevalence of bias in the work of litigation advocacy, in forms both obvious and subtle, this book is a wonderful one for both women and men. It will give you new ways to frame very familiar scenarios, ideas on how to talk about sensitive issues in the workplace, strategies to change the world one interaction at a time, and a very different understanding of what the younger generation’s demand for work/life balance could mean for generations to come. (Hint: It is very likely a very good thing when it comes to all of our work and personal lives.)

So, is this blog post about litigation, persuasion, and trial advocacy? Of course. The evolution of social justice, equity, and the American culture is the fuel for everything that happens in a courtroom. And, as an aside, maybe Sheryl is wrong about it taking another generation for equity to come to pass. No one could have envisioned the speed at which marriage equality has gone from being a ‘wedge issue’ to a mainstream value. What’s clear is that it won’t happen without focused and persistent attention.

Sheryl Sandberg (2013). Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Knopf Publishing.

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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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