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Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

A new issue of The Jury Expert 

Monday, June 29, 2015
posted by Rita Handrich

TJE_logoWe try to post the Table of Contents for new issues of The Jury Expert here when it publishes and there is a new issue up now. Here’s what you’ll see if you visit.

Does Deposition Video Camera Angle Affect Witness Credibility?

by Chris Dominic, Jeffrey Jarman, and Jonathan Lytle–all of Tsongas Consulting. Many of us have had spirited discussions about how the angle of the camera in deposition affects the impression of witness credibility. We all have strong ideas and sound reasons behind those ideas. These authors had the same sort of discussions but actually did research on it so you could benefit from this knowledge as well.

Looks Like Science, Must be True! Graphs and the Halo of Scientific Truth

by Aner Tal from Cornell with responses from visual evidence specialists Jason Barnes and Karyn Taylor. Ever wonder just how much difference there is in how persuasive charts and graphs are in the courtroom? This researcher looked at whether a simple (very simple) graph with no bells and whistles would be more persuasive to triers of fact. You will find the results odd and somewhat unsettling. Jason Barnes and Karyn Taylor respond with their perspective on making visual evidence compelling.

Jury Instructions: Work In Progress

by Steven Perkel and Benjamin Perkel, both of Perkel and Associates. The question of plain language jury instructions has been around for a while but we wanted to bring you the most recent findings and thoughts on making jury instructions easier for jurors to understand and interpret.

“Soft” vs. “Hard” Psychological Science in the Courtroom

The terms “soft science” and “hard science” are commonly applied to different scientific disciplines, and scientists have investigated and theorized about features that apply when placing scientific disciplines on a soft-hard continuum. In the minds of laypeople, however, the difference may lie in the more simple perceptions of different scientific disciplines. The very words themselves, “soft” and “hard”, may hint at different reputations. Soft sciences are fuzzy and less rigid, suggesting lower reliability, validity, and rigor than hard sciences possess.

Favorite Thing: The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues

Here’s another favorite thing and this one is all about research being done (both brain and biological) that touches on ethical issues we need to understand.

Using The Other Side’s Strikes: Regulating The Information Flow To Steer Your Opponent In Voir Dire

by Roy Futterman of DOAR. Jury selection is a strategic activity that requires you to imagine how the other side will react. This author suggests you take that imagination a step further by behaving strategically to get opposing counsel to strike jurors you want them to strike–effectively giving you twice the number of strikes when you are successful. How could you not read this one?!

Loyalty, Longevity and Leadership: A Multigenerational Workforce Update

by Doug Keene and Rita Handrich, both of Keene Trial Consulting. Recently we were asked to conduct research on whether jurors of different generations responded to case themes differently. In preparation for this, we updated the generational research completed in the past few years. This article summarizes what we learned about the “real” (as opposed to anecdotal) differences between generations and how you can use a sensible approach to managing your own multigenerational office.

Top 10 Most Widely Read Jury Expert Articles Since 2011! 

Every year we have been giving you a list of the top ten articles on The Jury Expert’s website for the past year. We thought we would also show you our top ten most highly trafficked articles since we began to publish online. It’s an interesting list with some of what readers say is our best work. Don’t miss it!

Image is TJE logo

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multigenerational-householdsWe’ve done a lot of literature review on generations and written papers summarized here and published in The Jury Expert. And it’s time for a new paper! Recently, we were asked to do some work on sorting out if (and how) the generations respond differently to fact patterns in litigation, And, as part of preparing for that research, we took a look at research published since we last wrote a literature review on generations at work. The article described here is the result of that pre-project preparation.

As we prepared for the mock trial research with mock jurors of varying generations, our client said, “50 year old GenXers?”.It’s hard to believe GenXers are really that old, but do the math—time has continued its inexorable march. Do that math a few more times and you will see the oldest Millennials are in their early thirties and the oldest Boomers are turning 70! It is easy to lose track of the passage of time and many of us tend to retain our outdated impressions of younger generations frozen in time. But they are growing older (just like we are) and changing as they mature. It’s imperative that we all keep our internal stereotypes up-to-date with reality in order to not be left behind with an outdated vision of who will come to interviews or even serve on our juries.

We wrote this paper for law firms trying to sort out management of the multigenerational workplace. There is fascinating research being done in this area and much of it can be translated into clear and behavioral steps to be taught to your managers and employees in general. This article discusses some recently found “real differences” between the three generations in the workplace (i.e., Boomer, GenXer, Millennial) identified in large sample size and global studies of individuals. If you enjoy learning about the latest research on generations and want to know more about making your workplace function more efficiently and respectfully—we hope you’ll read our latest article Loyalty, Longevity and Leadership in The Jury Expert.


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taylor swift on the RR tracksI’ve always liked Adam Benforado. He is one of the original contributors to Situationist blog (back when students didn’t write it) and wrote one of the funniest posts we’ve ever seen on that blog. But that was in 2011 when Adam was still an assistant professor. More recently he appears to no longer be as quirky and amusing. He does, however, have tenure now (congratulations) and is publishing a new book titled Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice.

I have not read Adam’s book. I have only read reviews of it and many of them are good although the book has not yet been released. The book was brought to my attention by trial consultants who saw early reviews and were disturbed by it. It was hard for me to believe that such a champion of the intersection between psychology and the law would trash the trial consulting profession as a whole with only one unattributed quote from a trial consultant who apparently speaks (in Benforado’s mind) for the profession. So I went to the Amazon webpage of the book which allowed me to peer at the book’s index and then review the pages about trial consulting (pages 249-256). Oh, Adam. I am so disappointed.

Here is the unattributed quote from “a trial consultant” that seems to be the impetus for Benforado’s trashing of the profession.

As one litigation consultant explained, “Basically, jury consulting is applied psychology… We’ll read studies from the Journal of Applied Psychology or Law and Human Behavior. We are practitioners but pretty much everyone here could flip and become an academic.”

First of all, if this is a legitimate quote, let us apologize now for this trial consultant who obviously did not read our blog posts on how to avoid saying stupid things to the media or the other dated but also misinformed book on how trial consulting is harming litigation advocacy and the pursuit of justice. I do not know any trial consultants who would say something like the quote above. There are very, very different skill sets involved in being a practitioner versus being an academic. Most of the trial consultants who know enough to cite the journals in that quote, also know enough to not say the last sentence because it smacks of narcissism and is untrue (“pretty much everyone here could flip and become an academic”). So, we apologize for the content of that quote, and think that if Adam Benforado really got a trial consultant to say something like that, his trial consultant source was not one we’d like to have representing us as a profession.

On the other hand, the journals identified by this anonymous consultant as ones “we” all read—are not the true “favorites” of those among us who actually read academic journals. So it all seems odd and a little out of touch for a trial consultant to comment along these lines. Further, if Adam (or anyone else) wants to understand the values and beliefs of any group, they can’t possibly do it by talking to any single person. Why Adam would imagine that this quote reflects anything about trial consulting (rather than simply being a dumb statement by a single person) diminishes the value of other, more worthwhile views Benforado might have to share.

Were I to explain trial consulting along similar lines as the quote Benforado uses to introduce his critique of the profession, I would say something like this:

From my perspective, trial consulting is applied social psychology. Some of us read academic research published in academic journals like the Journal of Applied Social Psychology or the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, among others, and apply those research findings to understanding juror reactions to case narrative. We do small group research often referred to as pretrial research that is very different from the laboratory research of academicians. Our goal is to uncover bias that results in prejudging of facts and witnesses, and guide the trial team toward themes and presentations strategies that avoids those bias pitfalls.

What Benforado says is that trial consulting began from a noble search for justice and has just boiled down to a desire to make money. It isn’t the consultant’s fault, says Benforado, since they are in a situation where ethics and ideas about what is right and wrong are just never considered. Since the reality of the trial consultant’s ethical compass is skewed by the environment—bad things happen. It is the logic of a true situationist and that again, strikes a false chord. And it is uninformed. Trial consultants— at least the members of the American Society of Trial Consultants— conduct themselves with standards of practice and ethical considerations well in hand. Advocacy is involved, but it is not any more skewed for trial consultants than it is for attorneys. Care and thoughtfulness are required. And most conduct themselves with very high standards.

I have been a trial consultant since the late 1990s and am a past President of the American Society of Trial Consultants. Rita joined the practice in 2000 and has been Editor of The Jury Expert since May, 2008. We’ve had, over the years, ample opportunity to observe the work of other trial consultants, to read the reports and recommendations of other consultants, to weigh in on ethical and organizational dilemmas with our colleagues, and to have numerous formal and informal interactions with our trial consultant colleagues over the past fifteen to twenty years.

Are there people who call themselves trial consultants with whom we would not affiliate professionally? Yes.

Are the professional motivations of the trial consultant revolving entirely around profit? No. We like to be paid for our work (apart from pro bono), but that doesn’t reflect a compromising of ethics. There is a true sense among the large majority of trial consultants of being “justice junkies”.

Do most of us think we can “flip and become academics”? No. While many trial consultants are academics of one kind or another (including tenured professors) most trial consultants don’t want to take that career path. In truth, we don’t want to teach and do laboratory research, or suffer the pressures to publish that can sometimes lead academics to undisciplined characterizations. And we don’t really read those journals to learn about applied social psychology research. The most useful sources of information for trial consultants are elsewhere.

We’ve been at this a long time. And working to improve litigation advocacy through the ethical and professional practice of trial consulting is still the best job we’ve ever had. We love to read research. We love to apply it to real life situations and we love to apply it to our litigation cases. That’s what this blog is all about. Our hope is that academics would appreciate our use of their findings. We know our clients do (and so do the readers of this blog).

So here’s a message to Adam Benforado, and those who are tempted to agree with him. You can fix this. Talk to real trial consultants rather than anonymous ones. Don’t criticize a profession based on a random, anonymous wisecrack. That is silly, wrong and unkind. You can look at what’s here now and who’s here now, rather than relying on an ill-informed and anonymous consultant who speaks about the rest of us inaccurately. This is still a new profession. But we don’t see ourselves and our trusted colleagues as causing unfairness in the justice system. We see ourselves as evening the playing field. And by so doing, we continue to apply the same values relied upon by those who founded the profession.

Benforado, A. 2015 Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice. Crown Publishing (June, 16, 2015)


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attractive leaderWe know attractive people are often preferred by everyone, but here is some heartening news if you were not genetically gifted with high cheekbones and dimples. When you are a leader, you get more attractive! At least to members of the group you lead. For outsiders, not so much. In other words, beauty is not a fixed trait but rather, one which shifts for the better when people become familiar with you. Researchers conducted two separate studies to study whether familiarity enhances your natural beauty.

In the first study, the researchers asked 49 Wisconsin legislative aides (38 Democrat [21 females] and 11 Republican [8 females]) to rate the physical attractiveness of 16 political leaders with whom they were familiar and the attractiveness of 8 political leaders with whom they were not familiar (those unfamiliar politicians were from New York). And (perhaps not surprisingly) the Republican aides rated their leaders as more attractive than Democrats did and of course, Democrats thought their leaders were more attractive than did Republican aides. (The party affiliation for the unfamiliar politicians was not provided, and those ratings did not vary based on political affiliation.)

The researchers wondered if they would see the same sort of trend if they used a general population sample rather than legislative aides (who, presumably, would tend to be more partisan). So in the second study, the researchers used what appear to be undergraduates in the state of Minnesota to rate the attractiveness of 16 familiar politicians and 12 unfamiliar politicians (once again from the state of New York). And they found the same thing. If the participant identified as a Republican, they thought Republican politicians more attractive. If the participant identified as a Democrat, they thought Democrats more attractive.

The researchers believe that people tend to view leaders of their groups as more attractive. We can agree with this to an extent although we believe that using politicians (public figures rather than leaders in personal workgroups or organizations) may simply be measuring how much partisanship colors our perception of individual attractiveness.

But, the senior author goes further in a Harvard Business Review blog post and says this:

“Although it’s true that the beauty biases exists, and always will, our study shows that emerging and experienced leaders can overcome and effectively reverse such biases by exhibiting more important traits such as intelligence, empathy, open-mindedness, and respect — that is, by being good leaders. The more they engage with their organizations, and the more they create an atmosphere of community and belonging, the more “attractive” — in every sense of the word — they’ll be in the eyes of their colleagues, supporters, and direct reports.”

And unfortunately, in so doing, they are over-stepping the actual research done. There was no measure at all in the actual study of whether the politicians were seen as being “good leaders” or even whether the politicians were viewed positively. The study merely asked participants to assess the physical attractiveness of the politician. In fact, the study was completed soon after a “hotly contested election” and so there was likely no real sense of whether the elected official was a “good leader” or not.

We’ve talked before about researchers over-stepping their research findings so this is not a new thing. But it is a misstep that is likely to be quoted by the media to say that instead of partisanship predicting perceptions of attractiveness—being a good leader makes you more attractive. And, in fact, that was precisely the title of the HBR blog post (written by the senior author of the paper!).

From a litigation advocacy standpoint, you want to know that partisanship can modify perceptions of attractiveness. And we do know that the more “like” the jurors your client or the witness is, the more jurors will like them. People are attracted to things and people familiar to them, as long as there is a positive association. We refer to this phenomena as identifying “universal values” that the jurors likely share. And while it is likely that the more similar a party or witness is to the jurors, the more attractive the jurors will find them as a person—this says nothing at all about whether the jurors will find them to be physically attractive—which, again, is what was measured in today’s research study.

The takeaway from this study is not that good governance makes a politician more attractive. The study supports the prospect that if you are aligned with someone based on party affiliation or some other level of connection, you will find them more appealing than someone you believe doesn’t understand you or share your values. And that makes sense.

Kniffin, KM, Wansink, B, Griskevicius, V, & Wilson, DS (2014). Beauty is in the in-group of the beholder: Intergroup differences in the perceived attractiveness of leaders. The Leadership Quarterly, 25, 1143-1153


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workingmomOr if you already are a mother, do not have any more children. On the other hand, if you are a man, have as many children as you would like. And preferably with a woman who doesn’t mind taking a dramatic payroll hit at work. With children (as a man) you get an average 11.6% bump in your salary according to this report. The author opines that fatherhood “is a valued characteristic of employers, signaling perhaps greater work commitment, stability, and deservingness”.

But we must remind you that this applies only if you are a man who is a father. And if you are a woman? According to today’s research report, with every additional child, you lose another 4% in income. So it isn’t just gender that reduces your salary. It’s having children as well. And yes. It is an article written in 2014. Don’t shoot the messenger here, it isn’t our research or our vision of a “just world”.

“For men, it’s just the status of being a father that raises their wages. For women, each additional child she has makes the penalty worse.”

Becoming a mother means women will earn less over their lifetimes while fathers earn more. This is but a small part of the disconcerting, disturbing, and depressing findings in a new report from the Third Way think tank. You may wonder what happened to the 2010 ABC World News report of women now earning 8% more than men. Well, that report only referred to young (early career) and childless women–not women with children.

Michelle Budig, the author of this report, calls what happens to women the “life cycle effect”. She points out the small gender gap in pay for 20-somethings (women earn about 96 cents on the dollar compared to men). That small gender salary gap grows as you hit 30-something and then 40-something though, and Budig thinks it is because of developmental milestones like marriage and children.

“Things happen in people’s lives like marriage and children, that trigger new behaviors and differential treatment in the workplace” for men and women.

Specifically, she says, the period between age 35 and age 44 is when we generally see the largest growth in salaries. This is also the time when many college-educated women stop delaying childbearing and are actively involved in caring for young children.

A caveat to this news comes if you are at the top of the salary distribution. If you are a man you get an even larger fatherhood bonus. And if you are a woman, while you don’t get a bigger bonus for being at the top of the income distribution, there is no motherhood penalty at all.

Another caveat also relates to privilege. White fathers receive larger fatherhood bonuses that Latinos or African-American men. In fact, African-American men have the lowest fatherhood bonus of any racial/ethnic group.

Budig suggests stereotypes of what makes a “good mother”, a “good father” and a “good worker” are likely at play here. If we believe that mothers should be focused on caring for children over workplace/career ambitions, they “will be suspect on the job and even criticized if viewed as overly focusing on work”. The opposite is apparently true for fathers who are likely perceived as trying hard to be a “good provider”.

From a workplace perspective, this report is a pointed reminder of the importance of identifying (and using) concrete, behavioral indicators for salary increases. That is one way to avoid making salary decisions based on stereotypes that cast either a halo effect (on fathers) or the opposite (on mothers). Creating a professional environment that welcomes both men and women means having specific indicators of “success” that apply equally to all employees, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, or parenthood status.

Budig, M. 2014 The fatherhood bonus and the motherhood penalty: Parenthood and the gender gap in pay. Third Way.


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