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Social science research, current events & jury news all viewed through the lens of litigation advocacy with an emphasis on persuasion, bias, communication, and all phases of case preparation.

Rita Handrich
3 posts

Doug Keene
324 posts

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  • December 20, 2010
  • 07:02 AM

Women and true crime tales of rape, murder & serial killers

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

I remember being fascinated by Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.  And during my maternity leave after my first child was born, I watched most of the Jeffrey Dahmer trials on CNN aware of the irony inherent in rocking my sleeping newborn while tracking the testimony of Park Dietz.  So, naturally, when I saw the new [...]

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  • December 17, 2010
  • 07:07 AM

Simple Jury Persuasion: Use Christian religious concepts to increase racial prejudice

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

We’ve written a lot about racial biases in the courtroom.  As regular readers of this blog know, we look for ways to mitigate the impact of racial biases. We believe in social justice. We also know (although we don’t like it much) that there are times when in the interests of advocacy, it is important [...]

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Johnson, MK, Rowatt, WC, & LaBouff, J. (2010) Priming Christian religious concepts increases racial prejudice. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 1(2). info:/

  • December 15, 2010
  • 07:07 AM

The ‘artful dodge’: The danger of a smooth talker

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

In 1992, Sade sang ‘Smooth Operator’.  Almost two decades later we have research confirming that a smooth talker wins the day still. Put more bluntly—style trumps substance (particularly when that substance is delivered poorly). We say we want information, but really we want infotainment. Todd Rogers and Michael Norton (both at Harvard) showed participants different [...]

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Rogers T, & Norton MI. (2010) People often trust eloquence more than honesty. Harvard business review, 88(11), 36-7. PMID: 21049679  

  • December 13, 2010
  • 06:07 AM

When cross-examination [of the expert witness] offends

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Your witnesses can make your case. They can also make your case a dog.  I was called several months ago to do witness preparation for trial on a commercial case that was, before our key witnesses flamed out in deposition, viewed as a mid-7 figure case.  After a dismal deposition performance, the plaintiff attorneys that [...]

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“I didn’t know truth had a gender”
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  • December 10, 2010
  • 07:07 AM

Simple Jury Persuasion: Tilt your head. (no kidding)

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

Evolutionary psychologists do some weird research. But we’re not holding that against them.  I mean, we’re talking about evolution.  Instead, we’ll take what they find and translate it for your use at trial. But this is odd! Australian researchers (Burke & Sulikowski, 2010) looked at tilting heads and attractiveness in the eyes of observers. What [...]

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Darren Burke, & Danielle Sulikowski. (2010) A New Viewpoint on the Evolution of Sexually Dimorphic Human Faces. Evolutionary Psychology, 8(4). info:/

  • December 8, 2010
  • 07:01 AM

Overdoing it: Is there such a thing as too little anxiety in your witness?

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

Close your eyes. Think of a nervous witness you have had to prepare for trial. Beads of sweat on their upper lip. Nervous throat-clearing. Trembling hands. Shaky voice. Deer in the headlights expression. Testifying can be terrifying and we’ve all had the experience of attempting to take the edge off of the visible anxiety of [...]

Related posts:Preparing the Witness: Sometimes it’s easy (sometimes it’s not)

‘Lawyerese’ may work well in journals but not in the cour........ Read more »

Boccaccini, M., & Brodsky, S. (2002) Believability of expert and lay witnesses: Implications for trial consultation. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 33(4), 384-388. info:/

Tenney ER, MacCoun RJ, Spellman BA, & Hastie R. (2007) Calibration trumps confidence as a basis for witness credibility. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS, 18(1), 46-50. PMID: 17362377  

  • December 3, 2010
  • 06:07 AM

Simple Jury Persuasion: Using attraction to your advantage

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Most of us are familiar with the old research saying attractive people get more, well, everything! And in a world that changes at dizzying speed, rest assured that this one remains as true as ever. A new study shows that we do judge a book by its cover “but a beautiful cover prompts a closer [...]

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Ruffle, Bradley J., & Shtudiner, Ze'ev. (2010) Are Good-Looking People More Employable?. SSRN. info:/

  • December 1, 2010
  • 08:07 AM

Pollyanna’s are good lie detectors and other new deception findings

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

You know Pollyanna. It’s come to be a label we assign to describe people with optimistic outlooks. But it’s not just optimism. We also often assume gullibility and naïveté. New research from Canadian researchers shows us our stereotypes and assumptions may be quite in error. It turns out the those who tend toward the Pollyanna end [...]

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Carter, N.L., & Weber, J.M. (2010) Not Pollyanna’s: Higher generalized trust predicts lie detection ability. . Social Psychological and Personality Science. info:/

  • November 26, 2010
  • 08:03 AM

Simple Jury Persuasion: Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful…

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

It’s like that 1980’s shampoo commercial featuring Kelly LeBrock that seemed so silly.  “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful…”. And decades later, we find that the sentiment is not only true, but we know it is true and we fear what will happen when others envy us! The research findings that we truly dislike the [...]

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van de Ven N, Zeelenberg M, & Pieters R. (2010) Warding Off the Evil Eye: When the Fear of Being Envied Increases Prosocial Behavior. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS. PMID: 20889930  

  • November 24, 2010
  • 08:02 AM

Maybe it really is better to apologize than to ask permission…

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

While we cannot all apologize as well as David Letterman, the importance of a good apology cannot be over-emphasized in the process of moving on from prior bad acts. We’ve written about apology in the context of litigation advocacy a number of times on this blog.  But now, two researchers have almost simultaneously come up with [...]

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Allen, R.J., & Laudan, L. (2010) The Devastating Impact of Prior Crimes Evidence – And Other Myths of the Criminal Justice Process. SSRN. info:/

  • November 19, 2010
  • 08:14 AM

Simple Jury Persusasion: Make them sad and they can’t be mad

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

An accepted truism is that a sad jury awards lower damages from a disempowered sense of hopelessness, and an angry jury awards higher to ‘send a message’. It is never good for the plaintiff when a case concludes with sad and hopeless jurors heading off to deliberate. You end up with “It’s horrible but it’s [...]

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  • November 17, 2010
  • 08:10 AM

Voir Dire Strategy: Who’s the Libertarian?

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

Concepts like authoritarianism have been studied intently for decades. But what about Libertarianism? We think we know about Libertarians from examining the writing of libertarian intellectuals and politicians—but that isn’t very scientific or reliable. Recently Iyer, Koleva, Graham, Ditto & Haidt (2010) published a paper that surveys the issues thoroughly.  Here we summarize a few [...]

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Iyer, R., Koleva, S.P., Graham, J., Ditto, P.H., & Haidt, J. (2010) Understanding Libertarian Morality: The psychological roots of an individualist ideology. SSRN. info:/

  • November 12, 2010
  • 08:10 AM

Simple Jury Persuasion: If they say ‘No’, ask ‘why not’?

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

PsyBlog continues their exploration of research on persuasion techniques and we will continue to monitor their posts and translate those relevant to the realm of litigation advocacy. [Their first post was on how "light" swearing makes you more persuasive. We figured you knew better than to try that one in court!] This time, they explore [...]

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  • November 5, 2010
  • 08:20 AM

Simple Jury Persuasion: Be Powerful in the Courtroom

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Much has been written about the “power suit” or the “power tie”. And we’ve written here about the power of wearing red for women and for men too!  So now you know how to dress. And yes, of course, there’s more. While you are power-suited up—you may also want to “strike a pose”.  Yup. Researchers [...]

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Carney DR, Cuddy AJ, & Yap AJ. (2010) Power posing: brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance. Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS, 21(10), 1363-8. PMID: 20855902  

  • November 3, 2010
  • 08:20 AM

Seeing and Believing and Reducing Prejudice

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

Mel Gibson certainly is not the only celebrity to rant racist statements while raving drunk. And we do have evidence that we are less able to censor ourselves when we are run-down and tired. So how (in brief) can you actually reduce prejudicial behavior? We’ve written a lot about race and racism here so it’s [...]

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Stewart TL, Latu IM, Branscombe NR, & Denney HT. (2010) Yes We Can!: Prejudice Reduction Through Seeing (Inequality) and Believing (in Social Change). Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS. PMID: 20889931  

  • November 1, 2010
  • 08:20 AM

Politics, Corruption and Pornography

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

From the world of politics come lessons for those of us who cannot believe how facts seem to make no difference for mock jurors and for real jurors who share their thoughts in post-verdict interviews. It isn’t just them. It’s all of us. Take for example, the Republican Party’s claims of political corruption in North [...]

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Markey, P., & Markey, C. (2010) Changes in pornography-seeking behaviors following political elections: an examination of the challenge hypothesis. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31(6), 442-446. info:/

  • October 29, 2010
  • 04:23 PM

You’re not too old for a story (but you might be too young!)

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

The idea of using a narrative to tell your litigation story is so widely accepted it’s almost surprising someone would research the power of a story But Kenneth Chestek did just that with appellate professionals in his article recently uploaded to the SSRN network.  And what he found is intriguing. Chestek covers familiar ground in his [...]

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Chestek, K. (2010) Judging by the Numbers: An Empirical Study of the Power of Story . SSRN. info:other/

  • October 25, 2010
  • 08:24 AM

Hard to be a woman? The beat goes on….

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

If you like to keep track of such things, we’ve written a number of times on how it’s hard to be a woman. Tammy Wynette did the original (although it’s better if you don’t listen to the lyrics too closely) and the hits just keep on coming! You may remember the controversy around Clarence Thomas’ [...]

Related posts:Redux: Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman (with appreciation to Tammy Wynette, Linda Ronstadt and Anne Reed)

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  • October 22, 2010
  • 08:26 AM

Simple Jury Persuasion: The dark side of psychological closeness

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

I swear there are times when simply reading a research report gives me chills. This is one of those times. We’ve written a lot about making your client more “like” jurors. In our posts on witness preparation you will see a lot of thoughts about making witnesses relatable to jurors without pandering to them.  It’s a [...]

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Gino, F., & Galinsky, A. (2010) When Psychological Closeness Creates Distance from One’s Moral Compass. SSRN. info:/

  • October 20, 2010
  • 08:20 AM

Should you try online jury research?

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

I mean really. How do you know who is out there as your sample mock jury? There are a number of companies offering online jury research these days. And, as they say, it’s cheaper, it’s fast, and it gives you a window into the potential reactions to your case. Obviously, we have some bias about [...]

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Lighter Skin, More Like Me

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