Archive for the ‘Generation or Age of Juror’ Category
It’s a great question just in general in terms of thinking about events that have shaped you as an individual. For us though, it’s a great question because it also speaks to generational differences (a favorite topic of ours!).
As each of us grows up, major events happen and they are called (in generational research speak) “defining moments”. They are seen as shared experiences for generational groups who were all there and experienced the event in varying (but nonetheless) life-altering ways.
So what are your own defining moments? The first moon landing? The Vietnam War? The first great depression? The second great depression? 9/11? The JFK assassination? The MLK assassination? The fall of the Berlin Wall? Stonewall? Woodstock? Watergate? The Challenger explosion? The Enron scandal? The prime mortgage meltdown? The Obama election? The recent presidential election results?
While each of us may have a few that are idiosyncratic or individual—the bulk of our “defining moments” will be those shared with others despite the fact we may never have met those “others” or discussed these events. Recently, Pew Research Center asked Americans for their individual 10 most significant events of their lifetimes. The answers, as you might expect, reflect views through the lenses of individual respondent’s lifetimes—although 9/11 over-shadows all other events listed. Other events naturally show up on the radar of older people (such as Watergate or the Reagan election) but are not within the lifetime of the younger respondents. Here are the top 10 events listed across all respondents in the Pew survey:
Those that surprise you are those that were not on your radar (either due to your age or priorities). But—and this is why we admire Pew Research—they do not stop with a simple rank order listing of the important events in the lifetimes of respondents to their survey. They go on to divide us up into various generational groups:
The Silent and Greatest generations remember WWII.
The Boomers remember the assassination of JFK and Vietnam.
Millennials and Gen Xers focus on 9/11 and the election of Obama.
Further, five of the Millennial generation’s Top 10 defining moments do not appear on the Top 10 for any other generation. You will want to read the article to see more on this but we will tell you which five are not on any other generation’s top list (Sandy Hook, the Orlando/Pulse nightclub shootings, the death of Osama bin Laden, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the Great Recession). It is testament to the power of age and developmental phase when it comes to how defining moments are experienced.
Participants were also asked to name the historic event that made them feel proudest of their country and the events that made them most disappointed in their country. While the “I was disappointed in America” responses are more partisan than the others, it is an intriguing list to peruse. Finally, Pew looked at responses by “race and ethnicity, gender, income, education, political party, and region of the country”.
From a litigation advocacy perspective, this is a fascinating example of how differently we see and experience and evaluate major events differently (depending on our phase of life, age, geographic location, and our attitudes, beliefs, and values–and it is required reading for anyone wanting to keep up on attitudes of importance to potential jurors.
Think of these as scintillating secrets to selectively drop into casual conversation to stun and beguile your co-workers and acquaintances. Or things we thought interesting but couldn’t work into full blog posts.
Boomers DO NOT have a stronger work ethic than later generations
Despite the popularity of this belief, it is a myth. It has been disproven in study after individual study and now, some researchers took a look at all the actual data (rather than relying on anecdotal information shared repetitiously and inaccurately on the web— largely by aging Boomers) and here it is again (currently open access) from the Journal of Business and Psychology. The article is summarized at Science Daily and here is a quote from the summary:
The analysis found no differences in the work ethic of different generations. These findings support other studies that found no difference in the work ethics of different generations when considering different variables, such as the hours they work or their commitment to family and work. Zabel’s team did however note a higher work ethic in studies that contained the response of employees working in industry rather than of students.
So. Boomers. Just stop it. Millennials and Generation X are no lazier than any other generation and Boomers have no corner on work ethic. Just ask their older (Silent Generation) peers how Boomers were when they first joined the workplace.
Quick and without looking! Which is longer—your ring finger or your index finger?
Apparently most people have fingers the same length but if you do not here’s a quick interpretation for you.
If your index finger is shorter than your ring finger, you are likely better at physical and athletic tasks (but are also more prone to ADHD and Tourette’s).
If your ring finger is shorter than your index finger, you are likely better at verbal memory tasks (but more prone to anxiety and depression).
This is all about how much testosterone you were exposed to in the womb and is probably also not really true about many of us. Read more about finger-length and masculine versus feminine traits and skills over at Science Daily.
Fracking is losing favor—in the UK, support is at an all-time low…
A few years ago we were hired to work on a fracking case and wanted to educate ourselves on public attitudes toward the practice of fracking. We wrote an article published in The Jury Expert looking at publicly available data. At that time, there was not much available that was not proprietary but what was visible made us not drink the local water on site at the pre-trial research! Four years later, there is a lot of data available (and mock jurors in other pretrial projects we’ve done on fracking-related litigation are often ambivalent).
Apparently, it is the same in the UK. A group at the University of Nottingham has been tracking public attitudes toward fracking since mid-2012. In a recent report of their work, they say support for fracking has fallen to an all-time low at 37.3% and opposition to fracking in the UK now at 41%. Scribd has the full report here.
Beyond dead salmon: What you need to know about fMRI research
We blogged about this issue but now there is an easily accessible and plain language web resource on what top neuroscientists want you to know about fMRI research and we wanted to share it with you. Brian Resnick over at the Vox site shares 7 points you need to know to knowledgeably speak on how fMRIs really work.
Secret rules on language English-speakers all know but don’t realize we know
This went viral a while back and you may have seen it but we both thought it was wonderful. So here it is again. From Mark Forsyth’s book The Elements of Eloquence on why we say Big Bad Wolf and not Bad Big Wolf.
“Adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac. It’s an odd thing that every English speaker uses that list, but almost none of us could write it out.”
Zabel, K., Biermeier-Hanson, B., Baltes, B., Early, B., & Shepard, A. (2016). Generational Differences in Work Ethic: Fact or Fiction? Journal of Business and Psychology DOI: 10.1007/s10869-016-9466-5
Currently open access here.
We like Pew Research here and wanted to bring you two new articles they’ve recently posted that may have relevance for knowing your jurors. It’s been a while since we’ve heard the term “boomerang generation” in regard to Millennials and maybe it’s because they are not planning to go anywhere anytime soon. Yet, if you look at the definition of “boomerang generation” now, it isn’t about moving out and moving back and moving out and moving back again, it’s about staying in place. And Pew has a new article addressing the issue.
Multigenerational households: 2016
According to Pew Research, we now have a “record 60.6 million Americans living in multigenerational households”. That translates to 1 out of every 5 Americans living in a multigenerational household (defined as two or more adult generations or a home that includes grandparents and grandchildren). Further, the trend is growing among nearly all racial groups (whites are less likely to live multigenerationally) as well as Hispanics in the US, among all age groups, and across genders.
While older adults used to be the ones most commonly living in multigenerational households, now it is young people for whom this living arrangement is most common. It is becoming more common for not just two adult generations to live together but even common for three generational groups. Pew thinks this is the result of immigrant families increasing in the country and a more frequent tendency in those cultures to share households. It is interesting to examine the graph (taken from the Pew site). The number has increased but not sharply. It is a gentle upward trend reflecting the changing demographic of America. As the nation changes, so do our housing norms.
Religious affiliations of “none”: 2016
Between 2007 (16% of those surveyed) and 2013 (23% of those surveyed), Pew Research says the number of religiously unaffiliated (aka the “nones”) grew rapidly from 35.6 million Americans to 55.8 million Americans saying they had no religious affiliation. Recently, Pew interviewed religious “nones” to see why they had left the church. Their reasons vary widely and as Pew says, the “nones” are far from monolithic. Here is the largest reason those who were raised in the church say they ended up leaving as adults:
About half of current religious “nones” who were raised in a religion (49%) indicate that a lack of belief led them to move away from religion. This includes many respondents who mention “science” as the reason they do not believe in religious teachings, including one who said “I’m a scientist now, and I don’t believe in miracles.” Others reference “common sense,” “logic” or a “lack of evidence” – or simply say they do not believe in God.
The others may have objections to organized religion, be religiously unsure, or simply inactive due to other obligations. Pew describes the “nones’ as composed of three groups:
They can be broken down into three broad subgroups: self-identified atheists, those who call themselves agnostic and people who describe their religion as “nothing in particular.”
From a litigation advocacy perspective, these findings are important. We need to realize both living arrangements and religious affiliations are changing. Some of this reflects the changing racial and ethnic makeup of the country and some of it reflects changing values and beliefs in our society. Sometimes these changes catch us off guard and other times we just think what we knew “back then” still applies today. Pay attention. Don’t be surprised when your assumptions (based on outdated information) are just wrong.
We’ve written about American attitudes toward interracial marriage a fair amount here and (at least once) questioned poll results suggesting dramatic improvement in attitudes toward interracial marriage among Americans (an 87% approval rating?!). While interracial relationships may be more acceptable to many more Americans, there is also the recent report of an attack on an interracial couple in Washington State. Additional reports about the self-proclaimed white supremacist who stabbed the interracial couple without provocation said if he was released by the police he would attend the Trump rally and “stomp out more of the Black Lives Matter group”.)
Recently, we found an article that reflects some of what we think about the state of race relations and attitudes toward interracial marriages. And, as if in response to the event linked to above (which had not yet happened at the time the article was published), here is how the authors close their paper (after reporting that interracial couples were dehumanized relative to same race couples):
“These findings are meaningful given the negative consequences associated with dehumanization, most notably, antisocial behaviors such as aggression and perpetration of violence”.
The researchers say that they skeptically question the increased approval poll numbers when it comes to comfort with interracial marriage. They also express a general belief that if the poll questions used subtler measures about racial attitudes (rather than asking explicitly how approving the respondent was of interracial marriage)—the results would reflect significantly lower levels of approval for interracial marriage.
They refer to, as an example of attitudes toward interracial marriage, a 2013 Washington Post column by Richard Cohen saying that the interracial family of New York mayor Bill de Blasio must result in a “gag reflex” among conservatives.
The researchers conducted three separate studies (all with undergraduate student participants). We mention the participant pool for two reasons—one, because undergraduate students are perhaps a bit different from jury-eligible citizens, and two, because the Millennial generation is seen as most accepting of interracial marriages (according to Pew Research, Fusion’s Massive Millennial Poll, and CNN) although PBS, Politico and the Washington Post question whether that really means Millennials are overall more racially tolerant. It would seem to us that, if Millennials show evidence of implicit bias against interracial marriage, older generations would likely show even more.
And sure enough, Millennials (the undergraduate participants) did show bias against interracial couples. The implicit measures showed reactions of disgust as well as a tendency to dehumanize the interracial couples compared to same race couples.
The researchers hypothesize there is still a tremendous amount of emotional and under-the-surface bias (aka implicit bias) against interracial couples and, they say, emotional bias (aka disgust) is more predictive of discriminatory behavior than are racially based stereotypes.
The researchers also describe what happens when we dehumanize others—as the participants in these experiments dehumanized the interracial couples. We do fewer nice things and increase our “antisocial behavior” toward dehumanized others. There is less empathy, and more avoidant behavior. We are less likely to help and more likely to use aggression and perpetrate violence against dehumanized targets. We are more accepting of police violence against a black suspect and more accepting of violence against black people in general. We see the dehumanized targets as less evolved and civilized. These statements represent past research findings summarized in the article by the researchers.
The researchers also say that their results indicate the individuals in the interracial couples would likely not be dehumanized if evaluated separately, but there was something about the interracial pairing that elicited both the emotional and dehumanizing responses.
From a litigation advocacy perspective, this is very disturbing and certainly brings to mind our work on when to talk and when to stay quiet about racial bias in court. We are not living in a post-racial society, and basing your case strategy on such a rosy assumption is likely to be hazardous to your client. When race is absent from the relevant facts— but not from extra-evidentiary optics—think carefully about how to proceed. Remember that when the case facts are not salient to the fact your client is in an interracial relationship—that is when the bias is most likely to emerge. It’s a tricky and frustrating situation.
Skinner, A., & Hudac, C. (2017). “Yuck, you disgust me!” Affective bias against interracial couples. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 68, 68-77 DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2016.05.008
FALSE! Alas, even though Microsoft has popularized this notion of a shrinking attention span—it is simply not true. Or at least, there is no proof it is true. And the study the falsehood was based on was not even looking at attention span—it was looking at multi-tasking while browsing the web. To add insult to injury for the authors (who actually are academics), they do not even use the word goldfish in their article. Academics who’ve been misquoted or misinterpreted by the media are shaking their heads around the globe. This distorting of research by the popular press for the sake of sensational stories isn’t new, but for those who do the work, it is pretty disturbing. Reporters often do little back-checking with the geeks that make the world go ‘round, because it’s hard, and it often takes the edge out of a catchy story. Once the first misinterpretation is published, the skewed reports drift farther and farther from the research they purportedly rely on. Alas…
Okay. So what happened here? Microsoft apparently commissioned a 2015 non-peer-reviewed study to examine how internet browsing had changed over time—that is, how long do surfers look at a page prior to moving on? Then it was misinterpreted (really misinterpreted) with spurious comparison information added about how adult attention spans were shrinking—an assertion unsupported and unaddressed even by the Microsoft study. This misinformation was picked up by the New York Times and Time Magazine as well as numerous other mainstream media sites. Each site represented the data as a scientific truth stemming from a paper commissioned by Microsoft. The only problem was, it wasn’t true.
The table following is another example of how the work was misinterpreted—it misrepresents the human (and goldfish) attention span as the real focus of the paper, which could barely be farther from the truth. The last half of the below table (Internet Browsing Statistics) is actually taken from the article Microsoft commissioned to look at how browsing patterns on the internet have changed over time. The top half however (Attention Span Statistics) is not and is totally unrelated to the study they commissioned. And, none of it has been validated or otherwise proved to mean anything at all.
(If you have trouble reading this table, here is the original source.)
You can find the text of the complete article commissioned by Microsoft here. Open it as a pdf file and search it for “goldfish”. You won’t find it. Nada. The study was not designed to look at the human attention span nor was it designed to compare human attention spans to that of a goldfish. It was designed to look at how advances in web technology had changed how we surf the web. Because, Microsoft wants to figure out how to make the most out of web surfing.
We are fortunate to have fact-checkers on the web — particularly when it comes to topics like data visualization. PolicyViz does a thorough job of debunking this myth as does a writer posting on LinkedIn. They both want everyone to STOP comparing people to goldfish! We would concur. We would also love to see people using their common sense and questioning sensational claims–“the average attention span of a goldfish”? Really? Or, what is the significance of any of those memory lapse statistics? Has that always been the case? Is it different? Why should we care?
From a litigation advocacy perspective, there are two key lessons here: First, pay no attention to comparisons of your jurors to goldfish. Instead use things like chunking your information into 10 minute segments—that factoid is actually supported by research on learning and not just drummed up by a marketing representative. If jurors do not pay attention, it likely isn’t their declining attention spans, but rather that your presentation did not speak to their values, attitudes and beliefs. Test your presentations pretrial and make sure real people pay attention and understand.
And second, be very aware of how easily seduced people are by unproven, but juicy, factoids based on data that is unproven or false, just because it is amusing or it seems to support some preexisting but uninformed suspicion. Cleverness often sells.