The Jury Room

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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
236 posts

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  • February 27, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 22 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
  • 91 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
  • 117 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
  • 67 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
  • 81 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
  • 52 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
  • 56 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
  • 91 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
  • 110 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
  • 75 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
  • 140 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
  • 144 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
  • 163 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
  • 155 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 »

  • January 14, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 167 views

Simple Jury Persuasion: When minority jurors  are not so good for your client

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Here’s an odd counter-intuitive research finding. You might think that, if you have a gay or lesbian client, other minorities (like racial or ethnic minorities, for example) would be a good bet for your jury. It only makes sense that those who have experienced discrimination themselves would be more tolerant toward members of other oppressed […]

Related posts:
Simple Jury Persuasion: Don’t deplete me
Simple Jury Persuasion: She reminds me of my Grandmother…
Simple Jury Persuasion:........ Read more »

  • January 9, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 106 views

Solution aversion: Denying problems when we don’t like the solutions

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

Almost three years ago, we blogged about something called the extremist effect. The extremist effect is a strategy of taking something virtuous and turning it into a vice through clever language. For example: You are a snowmobiling association being sued by environmental groups to block access to public lands. You diminish their position by saying, “Sporting […]

Related posts:
“Reactions vary along traditional partisan lines”
Excuse me potential juror: Is your brain red or........ Read more »

Campbell TH, & Kay AC. (2014) Solution aversion: On the relation between ideology and motivated disbelief. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107(5), 809-24. PMID: 25347128  

  • January 5, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 176 views

“Who are these people who understand this brain science thing?”

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

If you think neurolaw and neuroscience are everywhere–and don’t find it particularly challenging to talk about brain science, apparently you are living in a very rarified environment. It’s hard to believe but evidently, most people do not think the exploding field of brain science is fascinating! Instead, when they think of brain science they think […]

Related posts:
What do those jurors really know about science and technology?
A new question for the jury: Did my brain implant........ Read more »

  • December 19, 2014
  • 07:02 AM
  • 191 views

Simple Jury Persuasion: You are loved and cared for

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

We are again honored by our inclusion in the ABA Blawg 100 list for 2014. If you value this blog, today is the last day to vote for us here in the Litigation Category. Is this perhaps the anti-reptile theory? We don’t know, but it is potentially a powerful stealth weapon for cases where your opponent is attempting […]

Related posts:
Simple Jury Persuasion: In the face of ambiguity, we just make stuff up!
Simple Jury Persuasion: “That was the witness who spoke so sadly”
Simp........ Read more »

  • December 17, 2014
  • 07:02 AM
  • 161 views

Same sex marriage is okay but please, no PDA!

by Doug Keene in The Jury Room

We are again honored by our inclusion in the ABA Blawg 100 list for 2014. If you value this blog, please take a moment to vote for us here in the Litigation Category. Voting closes on December 19, 2014. Doug and Rita We’ve blogged a number of times about changing attitudes toward same sex marriage.  […]

Related posts:
So how okay are we really with gay marriage?
Changing American Attitudes: Gay/Lesbian Issues
So we cannot talk about race but we overwhelmingly approve interracial marr........ Read more »

  • December 15, 2014
  • 07:02 AM
  • 208 views

Are you a murdered white female? Here is some small comfort!

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

We are again honored by our inclusion in the ABA Blawg 100 list for 2014. If you value this blog, please take a moment to vote for us here in the Litigation Category. Voting closes on December 19, 2014. Doug and Rita If you are a murdered white female, your case will be investigated and […]

Related posts:
Does your capital client “look deathworthy”?
Does the Prosecution want African-American jurors for the Trayvon Martin case?
Bev Kearney: Is it because I’m female, African-America........ Read more »

Pierce, G., Radelet, M., Posick, C., & Lyman, T. (2014) Race and the Construction of Evidence in Homicide Cases. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 39(4), 771-786. DOI: 10.1007/s12103-014-9259-1  

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