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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
239 posts

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  • March 30, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 27 views

Simple Jury Persuasion: “Hey, look over here for a second!” 

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

This is sort of scary research. We all like to think our views on moral issues are pretty consistent and not easily shaken. That would be incorrect. They are not consistent and they are easily shaken. At least these are the conclusions reached by this research. We’ve written before about on which side of the […]

Related posts:
Simple Jury Persuasion: Telling jurors where to look
Simple Jury Persuasion: Activate the ‘intuitive prosecutor’
Simple Jury Persuasion: It’s really prett........ Read more »

Pärnamets P, Johansson P, Hall L, Balkenius C, Spivey MJ, & Richardson DC. (2015) Biasing moral decisions by exploiting the dynamics of eye gaze. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 25775604  

  • March 27, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 52 views

Fire-setters: Psychotic and non-psychotic 

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

There is a lot of literature on fire-setters but not, apparently, on how psychotic fire-setters differ from those who are not psychotic. As it turns out, there are some significant differences. Researchers in The Netherlands examined the records of 124 fire-setters (30 psychotic and 94 non-psychotic) sent for pretrial forensic mental health assessments between 2000 […]

Related posts:
But, your honor! That witness was drunk!
Can you trust the results of forensic evaluations on legal sanit........ Read more »

  • March 23, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 18 views

“We need smart jurors so we should keep the lighter skinned Black guy”

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

Most of us have heard of the preference for lighter skin within the African-American community. Some of us have also heard of “colorism” in general—a bias shared by many in our culture. Recently, author Lance Hannon (a sociologist from Villanova University) used data from the 2012 American National Election Study and found that Whites in […]

Related posts:

Lighter Skin, More Like Me

If your client is Atheist or Muslim, do you want your Christian jurors to be Black or ........ Read more »

Hannon, L. (2015) White Colorism. Social Currents, 2(1), 13-21. DOI: 10.1177/2329496514558628  

  • March 20, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 27 views

“Classical music will protect you from Alzheimer’s” and  other lies on the internet

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

This week I read several sensationalized reports of research findings from some scientists in Finland. “Classical music can help slow down the onset of dementia” and “Listening To Classical Music Could Improve Genes Responsible For Certain Brain Functions”. The articles reported that listening to a 20 minute Mozart violin concerto could stave off dementia and […]

Related posts:
No one knows you’re a dog on the internet (actually, they do!)
Another look at who lies…
Will ........ Read more »

Brown, M. J., Henriquez, E., & Groscup, J. (2008) The effects of eyeglasses and race on juror decisions involving a violent crime. American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 26(2), 25-43. info:/

  • March 9, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 78 views

The Personal Sense of Power Scale 

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

We give you information about various scales from time to time and always put “Scale” in the title of the post so they are readily searchable. This one is a brief measure of the individual sense of personal power. We heard about this scale after writing up a recent blog post and thought it interesting […]

Related posts:
The Islamophobia Scale: Measuring our fear of Muslims
The Disgust Scale: How have we missed this all this time?
The Libertarian Orientation Scale: Who’s the (real)........ Read more »

Anderson, C., John, O., & Keltner, D. (2012) The Personal Sense of Power. Journal of Personality, 80(2), 313-344. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2011.00734.x  

  • March 2, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 99 views

 The gift of feeling powerful: “I find myself so inspiring”

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

We have written about power poses and other strategies to help yourself feel powerful.  Be clear, though—you do not become more powerful by doing such things, but it might make you feel that way, which in itself can be communicated as confidence or authority. This post isn’t about how to make yourself feel powerful, it […]

Related posts:
Want that job? Just recall a time you felt powerful!
The Autocrat and the Role of Presiding Juror
Jury Selection: Art? Science? Or just a ‘gut........ Read more »

Van Kleef, G., Oveis, C., Homan, A., van der Lowe, I., & Keltner, D. (2015) Power Gets You High: The Powerful Are More Inspired by Themselves Than by Others. Social Psychological and Personality Science. DOI: 10.1177/1948550614566857  

  • February 27, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 79 views

Like thrillers? Scary movies? How do you feel about immigrants?

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

So here’s a strange study. Or perhaps an unexpected outcome. We enjoy a good suspenseful thriller but never knew it might be messing with our political beliefs. Wait until you see this! The researchers were curious about how various forms of physiological reactivity (aka anxiety) would affect a political belief about one particular issue: attitudes […]

Related posts:
“70% of Americans see immigration as threat to American way of life”
Are they “illegal aliens” or “undocumente........ Read more »

Renshon, J., Lee, J., & Tingley, D. (2014) Physiological Arousal and Political Beliefs. Political Psychology. DOI: 10.1111/pops.12173  

  • February 18, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 138 views

 Psychopaths cannot understand punishment—what does that mean for the courtroom?

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

At least that is the headline we’ve been reading about this research. We’ve written before about the psychopath. They are typically characterized as scary and “other” than us—not like us at all. They have been described as without conscience, and yet some of them are involved in corporations rather than prison. There actually are researchers […]

Related posts:
Judges are biased in favor of psychopaths whose “brains made them do it”
Defending the Psychopath: “His brain mad........ Read more »

  • February 16, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 159 views

When your parents help researchers make you believe  a lie 

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Thanks to us, you know researchers trick people into eating dog food, put them in MRI machines that just happen to have snakes in them, and do other nefarious things. But did you know they sometimes enlist your parents in their deception? It is sad, but apparently true. Although these UK and Canadian researchers did […]

Related posts:
Wait! What did I say last time?
Images and ads create false memories
False Confessions: “No one really does that unless they’re just stupid”


... Read more »

  • February 13, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 115 views

Would you get sucked in to conspiracy theories?

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

Well, perhaps you could rule out Bigfoot conspiracy theories, but what about the rest of them? We’ve written about some of the more unusual conspiracy theories here as well as those that simply show up routinely as we complete pretrial research. Regular readers here know that we use those cognitive leaps characteristic of the conspiracy […]

Related posts:
Conspiracy theories that haven’t come up in pretrial research (yet)
Think conspiracy theorists live on the fringes? Think again!
........ Read more »

van Prooijen, J., Krouwel, A., & Pollet, T. (2015) Political Extremism Predicts Belief in Conspiracy Theories. Social Psychological and Personality Science. DOI: 10.1177/1948550614567356  

  • February 11, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 123 views

There is a “naive faith in the trustworthiness of brain imaging data”

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

We’ve seen the claims that people don’t find brain scans as alluring as they used to, but here is a study that says, “not so fast!”. It’s an oddly intriguing study involving not only invoking pretty pictures of brain function but also political affiliation and how that factors in to what one chooses to believe. […]

Related posts:
Excuse me potential juror: Is your brain red or blue?
“This county is about 65% Republican, 25% Democrat and 10% Independent.”
fMRIs and Persuasi........ Read more »

  • February 9, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 96 views

Male juror prospect? Loads of selfies on social media? Hmmm. 

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

Last month we were asked to provide internet research on a very large jury panel, and to complete it overnight. What that means is we want to find out as much as we can about the attitudes, values and behavior of those in our venire panel. We do that background research on the internet and […]

Related posts:
Social media has not killed “the spiral of silence”
Narcissism and Social Media Use
A scientific explanation for why we are drawn to narcissists & psychopaths


... Read more »

  • February 6, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 92 views

Would you rather go to jail or prison? 

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

You cannot really answer “neither” to this question, it’s an either/or sort of query. If you know little about either, you may blurt out “jail”, and that would be a little unwise according to today’s research. Apparently, those that do know a little about jail versus prison would much rather go to prison than spend […]

Related posts:
Go to jail. Go directly to jail. And if you are a woman, stay there a lot longer.
Fat bias in the workplace
Beauty is only skin deep but the la........ Read more »

May, D., Applegate, B., Ruddell, R., & Wood, P. (2013) Going to Jail Sucks (And It Really Doesn’t Matter Who You Ask). American Journal of Criminal Justice, 39(2), 250-266. DOI: 10.1007/s12103-013-9215-5  

  • February 4, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 123 views

Can we just settle racial injustice out of  court?

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

We write a lot about racial bias here at The Jury Room and a new article from Sam Sommers and Satia Marotta is a terrific summary of how unconscious racial biases can taint the legal system. The article itself has been picked up by a number of media outlets, including ScienceDaily, Pacific Standard and blogs […]

Related posts:
Is racial bias fueling anti-Obama rhetoric?
Does the Prosecution want African-American jurors for the Trayvon Martin case?
Excuse me while I slip into something m........ Read more »

  • February 2, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 143 views

The Witness Credibility Scale 

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

It’s hard to believe we have not blogged about this scale before, but as it happens, we’ve discussed several research articles where the scale was used but never actually described the scale itself. The Witness Credibility Scale was developed by Stan Brodsky and his then-students at the University of Alabama. If you don’t recognize his […]

Related posts:
Smiling and credibility: Is it different for male and female witnesses at trial?
The Islamophobia Scale: Measuring our fear of Mu........ Read more »

  • January 30, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 116 views

Now, that’s a good-looking leader! (At  least, in this group.)

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

We 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 […]

Related posts:
Republicans prefer ‘Republican-looking’ political candidates
You wanted to be a leader! Act like one! (or else)
“Reactions vary along traditional partis........ Read more »

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, 1143-1153. info:/

  • January 28, 2015
  • 01:45 PM
  • 176 views

Does this mean we need to pay no attention to 1 in  10 research findings?

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

If so, we can certainly suggest a few to be disregarded! We don’t write about most of the articles we consider for this blog (the reject pile grows taller every day). And when we do write about questionable pieces we let you know if we think it’s a little ridiculous or if it’s a prospective […]

Related posts:
Mock Jury Research: How do we make it more useful?
Red, redux: Men won’t pay attention to Tammy in red
It’s 2014: Where are all the female subjects in surgical research? ........ Read more »

  • January 26, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 175 views

His brain made him do it” and so I feel much less empathy for him 

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

We’ve written about the brain based defenses a lot here. And here’s an article that may shed light on how the presentation of neural defenses could backfire on defense attorneys. First, let’s look at the research. The researchers wondered how the biological explanation of mental illness might affect the empathy of mental health clinicians toward […]

Related posts:
Which jurors most “feel” your client’s pain?
Empathy: Paving the road to preferential treatment with good intenti........ Read more »

Lebowitz MS, & Ahn WK. (2014) Effects of biological explanations for mental disorders on clinicians' empathy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(50), 17786-90. PMID: 25453068  

  • January 21, 2015
  • 09:36 AM
  • 208 views

Then and now: Beepers versus iPhones  [and separation anxiety]

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

Back in the early ‘90s, I had a job that required me to carry a beeper. The constant awareness that I was “on call” was a source of strain and led me to complain I was never really “off duty”. Flash forward to this century and I cannot imagine being without my smart phone. In […]

Related posts:
Head versus heart: Why it makes a difference
Does wondering about co-worker sexual preference impair concentration?
Be careful what you text!


... Read more »

  • January 16, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 193 views

Conspiracy beliefs and the relation to emotional uncertainty

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

It is no secret that we are intrigued by conspiracy theorists here at The Jury Room. Not only are they good for entertainment value during pretrial research, they are also very useful to help us plug holes in case narrative that could derail deliberations. When it comes to the actual trial though, conspiracy enthusiasts are […]

Related posts:
“Stop picking fights and get some emotional intelligence!”
Conspiracy theorists and survey design
Conspiracy theories that haven’t come up i........ Read more »

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