About this blog

After more than 20 years operating a trial consulting practice together as co-founding partners of Magnus Research Consultants, Inc. and Magnus Graphics, Inc., and more than 25 years of marriage, Dr. Melissa Pigott and David Fauss decided to share some of their thoughts, experiences, pet peeves, and perspectives on operating a small “mom & pop” business. The intended audience for their writings is other business owners, as well as employees of small businesses. Trial consulting is a professional service business, as was David’s photography business. There are many unique issues faced by professional service providers; Melissa and David share some of their insights on running a successful business.

30 Years

30 years. Sounds like a long time. Sometimes it feels like a long time, but I’m here to say, having being married to Melissa for 30 years, I’m left wondering where has the time gone – it has gone so fast! We recently celebrated this milestone and, although some of the readers know, I’m sharing […]

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In many ways, celebrating a 30th anniversary is remarkable! The divorce rate in America is approximately 50%, with many marriages breaking up well before the 10 year mark. David and, I are, as many people describe, “happily married.” This is not to say we agree on everything, enjoy doing exactly the same things, or don’t […]

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Persuasion

The study of attitudes and attitude change has a long tradition in social psychology. Related to attitude change is the concept of persuasion, the process by which attitude change occurs. In my role as a litigation/jury consultant, I assist attorneys become persuasive communicators, with the goal being to convince the jury, arbitrators, or judge to […]

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Litigation is unique, when compared to other arenas where persuasion is important, such as advertising or marketing. With an advertising campaign, the ads, whether billboards, print media, social media, television, radio, or other formats, are often tested with focus groups, etc. And, once refined, the ad campaign is launched in a fashion where a wide […]

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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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Cars and Errands and Challenges

The life – work balance thing hit home again this past week when, during a period during when our work load is high, that is, we’re busy and Melissa’s schedule is very full, “life” intervened. First, my car acted up – turns out it needed a software upgrade (pretty hard to imagine) – but it […]

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As usual, David’s post has reminded me of song lyrics. In “Beautiful Boy,” by John Lennon, there is a line that says: Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. How true! Just when we think we have our lives neatly organized and compartmentalized, something unexpected happens, causing us to adapt to our […]

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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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Square Peg, Round Hole

A Point of View

David H. Fauss, M.S.M.

On February 15, 2018

Category: Business Frustrations, Getting the Job Done, Magnus, Magnus Insights, Magnus Research, Small Business Success

I’ve previously posted about my recent experiences in the JMI Small Business program and a takeaway I had from one of the sessions is how often small business owners “don’t fit the profile.” The problem relates to how we small business owners so often can’t answer the questions on the form like a “normal person” […]

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Another View

Melissa Pigott, Ph.D.

On February 15, 2018

Category: Business Frustrations, Getting the Job Done, Magnus, Magnus Insights, Magnus Research, Small Business Success

David and I lament about our inability to answer trite questions in ways that satisfy unimaginative questioners. For example, when a banker or other financial person asks, “How much money do you earn?” I attempt to explain I cannot answer without being asked “When?” because my job is such that, last week, I earned absolutely […]

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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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