You are currently browsing the archives for the It’s hard to be a woman category.

Follow me on Twitter

Blog archive

We Participate In:

You are currently browsing the archives for the It’s hard to be a woman category.

ABA Journal Blawg 100!

Subscribe to The Jury Room via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Login

Archive for the ‘It’s hard to be a woman’ Category

Think back to your Psychology 101 class in college or an upper level Social Psychology undergraduate course and you will probably remember the famous case of Kitty Genovese who was murdered in a brutal attack outside her Queens, NY apartment in 1964. According to psychology textbooks, at least 38 onlookers witnessed the attack (mostly through hearing her screams) and yet no one came to her aid or called the police.

Psychologists labeled this “seeing but not helping” phenomenon as “the bystander effect”. Essentially, they say, the presence of others observing someone who needs help, diminishes the likelihood that any individual person will help (since we presume others will come to the person’s aid).

But, as it turns out, the Kitty Genovese story we know is not accurate. Saul Kassin, perhaps the most famous of the false confessions researchers, reviewed the historical records on this case and discovered the facts have been misreported for decades. According to Kassin (who is one of the responders on a paper we wrote for The Jury Expert when working a false confessions case), bystanders did respond, several came to her aid, and others called the police.

There were also a number of people who gave false confessions for her murder.

Police arrested a 29-year-old Black man named Winston Moseley for burglary and said he gave a “full and detailed confession” to Genovese’s rape and murder as well as several additional women. However, the police already had a confession for one of the other women Moseley confessed to killing.

The second man, a White 18-year-old male named Alvin Mitchell had been “interrogated by the police seven times over 50 hours” and then signed a confession. He swiftly recanted and said he was threatened and physically abused while in police custody. Unfortunately, he was ultimately convicted and served 12 years and 8 months before being released. When asked why he’d falsely confessed, Mitchell told Kassin he would have “confessed to killing the president because them people had me scared to death”.

It is astonishing that the urban mythology surrounding Kitty Genovese’s murder has been so widely accepted. As psychologists, we were presented with false facts of the Kitty Genovese murder and schooled in the “bystander effect” theory which arose from the lack of help she allegedly received. This is a stunning reversal. And, for us, the relationship of false confessions to the Kitty Genovese case is a second interesting twist. The summary of the writeup we’ve linked to in this post has a lot of information, but the article itself is filled with facts you have not likely heard before.

For example, did you know Genovese had a same-sex partner, that it is questionable whether there were really 38 witnesses—let alone 38 witnesses who took no action whatsoever, that the police helped shape the story told in newspapers, or that there are a lot of parallels with the Genovese case to the facts (25 years later) surrounding the false confessions in the Central Park Jogger case?

If you find this information and analysis is as important to you as it is to us,  this article is well worth the effort to access and read it. The story of Kassin’s meeting with Alvin Mitchell (who served such a long time in jail due to his false confession) alone is riveting.

Kassin, S. 2017. The Killing of Kitty Genovese: What Else Does This Case Tell Us? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12(3).

Image

SaveSave

Share
Comments Off on Kitty Genovese, the ‘bystander effect’, and false confessions 

Perhaps we should lower our standards on what sources are good for an entire blog post as these combination posts seem to increasingly inhabit our blog. We simply run across a lot of things that we want you to know about but we don’t want to repeat what you can find elsewhere. So, sit back and click some links and see some of the stuff we thought too interesting to pass up!

Cross-examining a psychiatrist or a psychologist (aka shrinks)

Much has been written on the intricacies of cross-examining mental health professionals and a quick internet search will give you more than a million things to read. Rather than taking all that time, we’ll just send you to the ABA Journal and their brief article on how to be effective while cross-examining  these witnesses. We’ll help convince you to visit the article by sharing just a few of their recommendations: confine your questions to their reports, determine whether they have taken a complete patient history to support their eventual diagnosis, verify entries (even degrees) on their resumés, and much, much more.

If you want more, here is a resource-rich webpage on deposition and cross-examination questions for mental health experts. Finally, having a trial consultant with a background in expert testimony and psychological testing can also be very helpful.

Digital gaps between urban and rural America

We’ve done research in Los Angeles and witness preparation in France a number of times recently but you will often find us in rural areas, in places the internet forgot, and in areas the people are so charming and gracious you may just want to stay. One of our favorite stories about rural pretrial research is this one which involved multiple high-tech company clients who were stunned at the dearth of technological savvy among the mock jurors only a few years ago:

Other very rural venues have shown us the extent to which the internet has passed by some Americans completely. At one site, of 36 mock jurors, only 4 had internet access. At another, of 48 jurors, only 11 had ‘smart phones’ while a majority didn’t understand the question. Most had “not heard of” Amazon.com’s website. One called a major social networking site, “the devil’s work” and others nodded somberly.

While we were taken aback during that research, a new Pew Research report tells us the urban/rural digital gap still remains. It is less pronounced than it once was, but the divide remains. You will want to read this report—even if you don’t do much rural work. It’s a way to keep track of just how different urban and rural jurors are and how access to information (as well as the value placed on that access) varies dramatically between city and rural residents.

Empathy gaps in the brain of the psychopath

We’ve written before about the psychopath (quite a lot, actually) but here is another review of the many ways the brain of the psychopath differs. The writeup summarizes the work of a team of researchers from Harvard who studied inmates in two Wisconsin medium-security prisons. These researchers believe that psychopathy reflects a “brain wiring dysfunction”. Alas for some of us, the researchers say this (and we wonder just how convincing it would be to jurors who like their food and drink perhaps a little too much):

“The same kind of short-sighted, impulsive decision-making that we see in psychopathic individuals has also been noted in compulsive over-eaters and substance abusers.”

Gender pay gaps—it’s worse than you may think for women of color

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research has released a new report that is pretty much certain to make you want to overeat M&Ms or ice cream (but that could just be me). In one of more depressing and heavily hyper-linked summaries of the gender pay gap—they include this discouraging information on the realities for women of color.

“Hispanic women will have to wait until 2248 and Black women will wait until 2124 for equal pay.”

We won’t make you do the math. That is 232 years for Hispanic women and 108 years for black women. That’s beyond ridiculous. Don’t bury your head in the sand. Read this report and be informed. Then do something about it.

The Police and Law Enforcement (PLE) Scale

This is a new 8-question scale meant to document Black men’s perception of bias and discrimination directed toward them by members of the police force. Here is a bit of what the researchers say about their reasons for developing the measure:

The researchers note that most scientific literature on the subject typically includes the police’s point of view of the experience and rarely that of the person who had the interaction with the police. The new Police and Law Enforcement Scale can help to balance out the record so that it includes the perspective of individuals who have interactions with police.

“There is a substantial gap between what you hear from black men regarding their experiences with law enforcement officials during their lives and what is in the scientific literature,” said Devin English, a psychology Ph.D. student at the George Washington University and lead author of the study. “We see our study as helping to document what black men have been experiencing for centuries in the United States.”

This measure is meant to assess the level of institutionalized racism experienced by community members and is also seen as a step to improve public health (since discrimination is known to decrease physical as well as emotional well-being. The researchers are hopeful the scale can improve dialogue across the US on racial discrimination in policing.

Image

Share
Comments Off on Cross-examining shrinks, rural vs. urban America, pay & gender, black men & the police

Here’s another post on a variety of things too good to bypass completely, that we didn’t want to use for entire posts. You will see, as before, these combination posts are educational and help you become a scintillating conversationalist. At least we think so.

We’ve worked at lot in East Texas [and elsewhere] on patent cases so you might think the recent TC Heartland decision would make us mourn the end of an era [see the coverage at SCOTUS blog]. Instead, it’s a chance to return to my home state (Delaware) for IP cases more often than I do them in my adopted state (Texas)! You don’t meet many people from Delaware when you are not in Delaware, but I can tell you that it was a great place to grow up and attend college. I’ve been following the legal publications analyses of this SCOTUS reversal with interest, but this plain language post from the Harvard Business Review caught my eye. It is one of the clearest explanations I have seen of the likely impact of the decision.

If you want to get away with financial misconduct on Wall Street—be a man

You may think this is a pretty obvious one since fewer than 10% of the CEOs and CFOs in the financial services industry are women—but here’s a hard fact from a new study on financial misconduct among more than 1.2M financial advisors between 2005 and 2015.

Compared to men, women disciplined for financial misconduct were 20% more likely to lose their jobs and 30% less likely to get a new job in the industry within a year.

Women were punished more despite the fact that male misconduct cost the companies more ($40K compared to $32K).

For men, only 28% of the financial misconduct charges came from within their firm. This compared to 44% of misconduct charges for women coming from within their own firm.

And among both men and women who were disciplined, females were punished more severely (despite the fact that men were three times more likely to have a prior record of misconduct and twice as likely to be repeat offenders).

Intriguingly, only in companies where women were in at least ⅓ of the management roles was misconduct dealt with the same way for male and female employees.

Dodgy politicians—is this déjà vu

Way back in 2010, we wrote a blog post on an article referring to “artful dodgers” (who happened to also be politicians) who did not answer questions posed to them but answered other questions instead. So when we saw this article from BPS Research Digest, we were sure we’d seen it before! The authors think witnessing question dodging makes the observer think the dodger is less trustworthy. We thought that too and back in 2010, made the following recommendations in the event you are faced with a ‘not-so artful dodger’ opposing witness.

In this instance, you are drawing the witness’ (and ultimately the jury’s) attention to the fact a question was not answered. Pay attention in deposition when witnesses do not answer questions. Get it on tape: “I asked you this but you answered something else. Try again.” You do not have to be nasty. Simply patiently ask for the answer to your actual question. When jurors see taped deposition like this, it can be devastating to witness credibility.

Don’t allow opposing witnesses to be non-responsive. Ask them if they recall the question. Ask them to repeat the question (which makes it more difficult to ignore it). Politely correct their paraphrasing. Make it clear to the jury that they are dodging, and that is not okay. It may seem a simple thing but when we have data showing people forget the actual question posed—the witness’ style may be more important than the substance of a less ‘artful dodger’.

Do honest people get their dream jobs? Maybe…

Remember the job interview technique that has the applicant volunteer a critique of themselves as a worker and potential employee? The advice often dispensed some years ago was to say things like, “I’m a workaholic” or “I am often over-responsible” or something else akin to what is now called humble bragging. Here’s a fun piece over at the Daily Mail that tells you “honest people are up to three times more likely to land their dream role when up against other high-ranking candidates”. Commenters do not take the earnest tone of the article particularly seriously, you may want to make a point of reading the comments.

Image

Share
Comments Off on Patent trolls in Delaware and dishonesty (in financial dealings, job  interviews, and politics)

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.

Image

Share
Comments Off on Millennials, women in general, and Andrea Yates in particular 

If you are young(er) you likely know precisely what vocal fry means and if you are old(er)—probably not so much. It is a cultural phenomenon seen primarily (but not only) in young(er) women as described at the Mental Floss website:

“Vocal fry describes a specific sound quality caused by the movement of the vocal folds. In regular speaking mode, the vocal folds rapidly vibrate between a more open and more closed position as the air passes through. In vocal fry, the vocal folds are shortened and slack so they close together completely and pop back open, with a little jitter, as the air comes through. That popping, jittery effect gives it a characteristic sizzling or frying sound.”

While it is nice to have a specific definition, it is also nice to hear examples of ‘what’ vocal fry actually sounds like so you can know it when you hear it. Vocal fry is the subject of intense scrutiny by bloggers covering linguistic changes, is seen as yet another entry in the endless complaints on women who have the temerity to speak in public, and as something that bugs older, white men in particular. Vocal fry has been likened to what used to be called “valley girl speak”, is used by almost 2/3 of college students, and is a characteristic which spreads as described in the video below.

You can hear a few more examples of vocal fry and what to do about it here, here, and here. Singers use vocal fry (sometimes artificially lowering their voices to enhance the ‘fry’) and researchers are looking into how vocal fry enhances emotionality in songs. Some say the denigration of vocal fry in women is just one more way in which women are criticized and maybe that is just how their voice sounds. (It is a parallel argument to what we saw in our recent post on resting bitch face [RBF]).

Yet, vocal fry annoyed one man so much he took his significant other to a speech therapist to cure her of her annoying style of speaking (and naturally wrote an article about the experience to make her even more self-conscious than did the speech therapist). Others justify their criticism of vocal fry use by saying it will hurt your chances of getting a job (but only if you are a woman—not if you are a man) and this one is apparently backed up by actual research!

“Young adult female voices exhibiting vocal fry are perceived as less competent, less educated, less trustworthy, less attractive, and less hirable. The negative perceptions of women who use vocal fry are stronger when the listener is also a woman. Collectively, these results suggest young American women should avoid vocal fry in order to maximize labor market perceptions, particularly when being interviewed by another woman.”

While the use of vocal fry is often attributed to women only, men apparently do a lot of vocal fry(ing) also and you can listen to this audio link of famous males using vocal fry as they speak. Apparently, radio shows, podcasts, and even television shows get multiple complaints from viewers about the annoying female vocal fry but they receive few if any complaints when male reporters use vocal fry. Hmmmm.

Here’s a thought from a 2013 Slate article (which also echoes the idea that older men in positions of authority find vocal fry particularly annoying):

As women gain status and power in the professional world, young women may not be forced to carefully modify totally benign aspects of their behavior in order to be heard. Our speech may not yet be considered professional, but it’s on its way there.

Once, an anxious parent wrote into Liberman’s blog to complain that a Ph.D. daughter populates her speech with uptalks (i.e., raising vocal inflection at the end of sentences), as do her doctor/lawyer peers. Could Liberman point to any research proving the “negative effects” of this feminine affectation?

“You’re certainly entitled to your crotchets and irks, just as your adult daughter is entitled to her prosodic preferences,” Liberman responded. “But in order for the two of you to get along, something’s going to have to give. And realistically, it’s you.”

In other words, listeners may want to get over it. But what does that mean from a litigation perspective? One of the key concerns for any public speaker (including lawyers, witnesses, and everyone else), is credibility. Styles of speech can appear sincere, frivolous, knowledgeable, or phony. As one who finds this style of speech an affectation, it reflects something about the values, priorities, and preferences of the speaker.

The speaker is working on making an impression, rather than coming across as authentic and persuasive. If a person wants to appear genuine and authoritative, examining the factors (including speech and accent) that guide impressions is worthwhile. This is one of those cases where you may want to consider pretrial research and getting mock juror reactions to a witness’ speech patterns. If they find the witnesses style of speaking “annoying”—it may be worth doing some preparation to modify speech patterns for testifying. The witness would still say the same things—they might just say them a bit differently.

It reminds me of a mock trial we did in East Texas where the attorney was concerned about how an actual jury would react to the speech of a man with vocal fry as an artifact of a chronic disease. We decided to test the younger male witness and did so by simply questioning him about his illness and how his voice related to that illness. Upon hearing that explanation, jurors embraced his testimony warmly.

But for witnesses with vocal fry unrelated to any medical condition, you cannot say, “I am younger, and people my age and most of my friends talk this way” and expect to be embraced. Instead, you may have to work on your speaking voice and intonation to see if it can be modified for courtroom testimony. While it will likely be irritating to the individual witness (particularly if they understand that men are not described as annoying when they use vocal fry)—it is likely to be more irritating to be dismissed by your audience in the courtroom as lacking in credibility.

Anderson RC, Klofstad CA, Mayew WJ, & Venkatachalam M (2014). Vocal fry may undermine the success of young women in the labor market. PLoS ONE, 9 (5) PMID: 24870387.

You can also find the full-text here: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0097506

Image

Share
Comments Off on Witness preparation: To vocal fry or not to vocal  fry?