Archive | Jury Behavior

Impression Management, part 2: Snap Judgments

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (January 31, 2018, page A9), “The Mistakes You Make in a Meeting’s First Milliseconds,” by Sue Shellenbarger, prompted me to think about first impressions in the courtroom. And, particularly, the jurors’ first impressions of the attorneys. While the attorneys’ first impressions of jurors and witnesses, both fact […]

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I routinely remark to the attorneys who are my clients that the jurors are the “only perfect people in the world.” That is, when one’s fate, and the fate of one’s client, rests in the decision made by a jury, the jury’s decision is final. Furthermore, the jury’s final decision may or may not be […]

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The New World Order

Melissa and I have attempted do two things consistently with the posts we write. First, we try to be tactful, and not insult anyone. Second, we strive to be timeless, not dating our posts by the topic. This post breaks the 2nd rule, but hopefully, not the first objective. The topic is what some have […]

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Although many people cannot agree about politics, most people will agree politics have divided us into “us and them” factions more than, perhaps, any time in recent history. All of the people who are “us,” whatever that means on a personal basis, believe all of the people who are “them” are wrong, while all of […]

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Bargaining and negotiation

Bargaining is a social psychological phenomenon that I observe in every mock jury research project I conduct. Rarely do the mock jurors reach unanimity without considerable back and forth discussions. According to social psychological theory, bargaining involves situations with the following characteristics: (1) the parties involved have divergent interests; (2) some form of communication by […]

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Bargaining and negotiation involve give and take. And, some people will do all the taking, and little of the giving. We all observe this in many human interactions. In a jury scenario, this reality takes on a specific life of its own. We see it all the time in mock juries as the mock jurors […]

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Sleeping Beauties

The role of a trial juror is critical in American justice and yet, jurors are often criticized collectively by many trial lawyers and the general public. Being a juror is a difficult job; sitting in judgment of your fellow citizens can be very stressful, and trials are not nearly as exciting and fast paced as […]

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Sadly for most people who are selected to be on a jury, there are few attorneys who possess the oratory skills required to keep them interested in the case, not to mention engaged. I have had the pleasure to observe some skillful trial lawyers in my career as a jury/trial consultant, including Buddy Payne, J. […]

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Commitment

Social psychologists often refer to the “3 Cs of Attitude Change”: conformity, consistency, and commitment. Previous posts have discussed the first two factors, conformity and consistency, and the current post will address the third factor, commitment. Commitment is the process by which people take a stand for or against a certain issue. Commitment to an […]

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Knowledge of the power of commitment is a powerful tool for attorneys. On the one hand, when someone makes a clear commitment to something which obviously is opposed to a lawyer’s position, such as Melissa’s environmental example, the choice is easy. Sometimes, however, a commitment to some belief or cause is more subtly “announced.” Being […]

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Consistency

A Point of View

Melissa Pigott, Ph.D.

On February 20, 2018

Category: Jury Behavior, Litigation Consultants, Litigation Tips, Magnus, Magnus Research, Psychology, Trial Consulting

Most people perceive themselves as acting consistently across time and situations. Not only do most people like to appear consistent, in order to manage others’ impressions of them, they also like to appear consistent to themselves. This desire for consistency has strong effects on people’s behavior, particularly in group situations. Consistency has implications for people’s […]

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Another View

David H. Fauss, M.S.M.

On February 20, 2018

Category: Jury Behavior, Litigation Consultants, Litigation Tips, Magnus, Magnus Research, Psychology, Trial Consulting

Because I’ve heard Melissa conducing educational programs on jury selection, I want to comment on one way the knowledge of the human desire to appear consistent is of importance to trial lawyers. In the chess game of jury selection, where the options are pre emptory strike (limited numbers), challenge for cause (no limits), or accept, […]

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Conformity

Almost everyone knows the meaning of conformity. From an early age, we are taught to conform with others’ ways of doing things, to go along with group norms, and to desire to be like everyone else. Few of us actually think about the strong social pressures designed to ensure our conformity; we tend to “go […]

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Melissa states that understanding conformity is part of understanding that a group is stronger than its individual parts. That is, in our litigation consulting world, a jury is stronger than a single juror, even if a single juror can “hang” a jury. My comments conform to her statement, but I want to expand it beyond […]

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Reminder: Juries are Groups, Jurors are Individuals

So, the reader is probably thinking “duh, right, tell me something I didn’t know.” And, I agree, this should be obvious. Except when it isn’t. The beginning of a trial includes voir dire – asking questions of individuals – to determine which ones the attorney wants to include, or more accurately, exclude from a jury. […]

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David may believe it is obvious to most people that there are fundamental differences between juries and jurors, however, I must disagree with this conclusion. I find that most people, as well as most attorneys, rarely consider the group dynamics that are an integral aspect of jury behavior. In fact, I will go as far […]

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Defensive attribution

Defensive attribution has been widely researched by social psychologists since the 1960s. Defensive attribution is the bias, present in most people, that leads to blaming a victim of misfortune for his/her role in the misfortune. Among the first research studies on the topic of defensive attribution was a study that found accident victims were perceived […]

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Though I have taken graduate psychology courses, I have certainly benefited from the litigation specific tutoring and examples Melissa has provided me, and our clients, over many years. I recall one of the first times defensive attribution raised its ugly head and had to be explained to a client on the fly. Our client, a […]

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A Numbers Game

A Point of View

David H. Fauss, M.S.M.

On February 1, 2018

Category: Jury Behavior, Jury Deliberations, Litigation Tips, Magnus, Magnus Insights, Magnus Research, Psychology, Trial Consultants, Trial Consulting

It happened last week, as it has many times before. “It,” in this case, is the random outcome of a mock jury project that surprises the clients most of all. The scenario was as follows: we were engaged to conduct mock jury research using 4 panels of mock jurors to deliberate to a verdict. The […]

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I have had the opportunity to observe thousands of mock jurors deliberate and, although I do not know in advance what their decisions will be, I know enough to realize people are not always who they appear to be. I have spent countless time watching and listening to people make decisions, including mock jury deliberations […]

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