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  • March 9, 2015
  • 08:02 AM
  • 747 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) Libertarian?


... 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 5, 2015
  • 11:11 AM
  • 1,436 views

Does Thinking About God Increase Our Willingness to Make Risky Decisions?

by Jalees Rehman in Fragments of Truth

Daniella Kupor and her colleagues at Stanford University have recently published the paper "Anticipating Divine Protection? Reminders of God Can Increase Nonmoral Risk Taking" which takes a new look at the link between invoking the name of God and risky behaviors. The researchers hypothesized that reminders of God may have opposite effects on varying types of risk-taking behavior. For example, risk-taking behavior that is deemed ‘immoral' such as taking sexual risks or cheating may be suppressed by invoking God, whereas taking non-moral risks, such as making risky investments or sky-diving, might be increased because reminders of God provide a sense of security. According to Kupor and colleagues, it is important to classify the type of risky behavior in relation to how society perceives God's approval or disapproval of the behavior. The researchers conducted a variety of experiments to test this hypothesis using online study participants.
... Read more »

  • March 2, 2015
  • 08:02 AM
  • 991 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’ feeling?


... 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
  • 08:02 AM
  • 692 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 “undocumented workers”?
“His brain made him do it” and so I feel much less empathy for him 


... Read more »

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

  • February 18, 2015
  • 08:02 AM
  • 894 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 made him do it”
A new neurolaw caveat to minimize punishment


... Read more »

  • February 16, 2015
  • 08:02 AM
  • 898 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 […]

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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
  • 08:02 AM
  • 801 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!
Conspiracy beliefs and the relation to emotional uncertainty


... 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 12, 2015
  • 02:38 PM
  • 1,444 views

Will You Be My Valentine?: Making All the Right Moves

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

My Valentine’s Day themed posts have been both popular and fun to write. In last year’s Getting a Date for Valentine’s Day series, you learned that you should wear something red, gaze without being creepy, tell a good joke before walking up to your potential date who is preferably standing next to some flowers, and then open with a unique request to segue into asking them out. But that isn't the end of the story. Oh no, there are many more things that you can do to attract that special someone, all scientifically examined of course. Today we’ll take a look at two more of them.Bust-A-MoveIt’s serendipity that our V-day themed discussion about sexual selection starts on Darwin’s birthday (Happy Birthday Chuck!). Did you know that Charles Darwin was actually the first to suggest that dance plays a role in evolution? It is a sexually selected courtship signal that reveals the genetic or phenotypic quality of the dancer, usually the male. Basically, the quality of the movement signals things like physical strength and fluctuating asymmetry (FA). The latter is a term you see a lot in these types of studies and it describes how much an organism deviates from bilateral symmetry. Essentially, if you develop all lopsided then it will show in your movement. Take what you know of testosterone, or other steroids. Increase that and you see improved physical strength and athletic ability. Now translate that, and its developmental implications, to dance.It has been suggested that human women have developed ways to assess these visual cues in men in order to select high quality mates. However, quantifying these decisions in a study has proven difficult as women use the appearance of the dancer as well as their quality moves. A 2009 study by Hugill et al. in the journal Personality and Individual Differences looked at whether male physical strength is signaled by dancing performance. They included 40 dancers, recorded their age, body weight and height and then gave them a series of handgrip tests to quantify their physical strength. Then they dressed the men all in white overalls (I know, sexy right?), put them in a blank grey room, and asked them all to dance alone to the same song while they were being video recorded. Let’s assume, for the sake of this argument, that this scenario doesn’t induce awkwardness in these men. Then each video was converted to grey-scale and a blurring filter applied to cover information about body shape. Once this prep work was done, the researchers recruited 50 female to rate each video. The results showed that the women perceived the dances of physically stronger men as more attractive. The rise of motion-capture technology has added a very useful tool to this type of study. Rather than going through all of those post-conversion video steps, complex movements like dance can be captured by the computer sensors to be applied to homogeneous human figures. A 2005 study by Brown et al. in Nature did just this to look at the variation in dance quality with genetic and/or phenotypic quality. They motion-captured 183 dancers and selected 40 dance animations based on the composite measures/level of fluctuating asymmetry of the dancer (hmm…I wonder if they could get Andy Serkis to help out). Then they showed these dance animations of symmetrical and asymmetrical individuals to 155 people (themselves characterized for FA) to rate. In both males and females, the results showed that symmetrical individuals were better dancers, with males better than females, but sex didn’t matter within the asymmetrical group. For the raters, generally males liked to watch female dancers rather than male (you’re shocked, I can tell), and females liked symmetrical males. Data also showed that female raters, more than male raters, preferred the dances of symmetrical men, and that symmetrical men prefer symmetrical female dancers more than do less-symmetrical men. If you have ever interacted in any social context ever then you know that beautiful, good dancers liking beautiful, good dancing partners isn’t exactly groundbreaking. But what does this study mean for the hopelessly asymmetrical? Shift your preferences downward to a less symmetrical potential date.Now the question becomes about the dance itself. Which body movements are the attractive ones? A 2010 study by Neave et al. published in Biology Letters looked at specific movement components within dance to see which one(s) influenced perceived dance quality. Using motion-capture, the created digitally dancing avatars of 19 men for 37 women to rate for dance quality. To quantify specific movements, angles, amplitudes and durations of joint, angular and unidirectional movements were measured. Good dancers were those that had larger and more variable movements with faster bending and twisting movements in their right knee. Weirdly specific, right? Especially that right knee thing. But, considering that most people are right-handed, this might be expected. So what have we learned? Well, we now know that how you move tells someone a lot about you, regardless of how attractive you are. Maybe a good dance class is in order?Hey baby, you must be gibberelin, because I'm experiencing some stem elongation.You've got your eye on someone fabulous. You walk over; lean against the bar and…What you say next can make or break that first meeting. What do you say? There are several studies out there that look for practical answers to this question. Considering our current dating discussion, we’ll use a subset of the what-to-say category: pickup lines (or chat-up lines), which run the gamut from cute to cringe-worthy. In general, these types of studies ask “What makes a pickup line good?”To get at this, many categorize them according to a 1986 study by Kleinke et al.:Cute-flippant – convey interest with humor that is usually flirtatious or sexual “You must be tired, because you’ve been running through my mind all day,” (A line that has actually been used on me. Sigh.)  “Do you have any raisins? No? Well then, how about a date?” Innocuous – convey interest without incurring the pain of from potential rejection by using simple questions to start conversations “Have you seen any good movies lately?” “What do you think of the band?” Direct – convey interest with sincerity and flattery “I saw you across the room and knew I had to meet you. What’s your name?” “Can I buy you lunch?”Evolutionarily speaking, women are making choices that optimize the viability of any offspring, but the male attributes they prefer are dependent on the type of relationship they are seeking. If they are looking for a long-term relationship then they prefer males who appear likely to be good fathers. Broadly, these women are picking up on signals for warmth-trustworthiness (honesty, reliability, kindness) and status-resources (intelligence, dominance, earning potential). If they are looking for a short-term relationship then signals of good genes like attractiveness and health are important. A 2010 study by Senko and Fyffe applied this evolutionary perspective to pickup lines, examining the perception of these signals. They asked 70 women to imagine that a man comes up to them and initiates contact using either a flippant, innocuous, or direct pickup line. Then the women rated that imaginary man on several attributes including trustworthiness, intelligence, sociability, sense of humor, and creativity. The women also reported their willingness to carry a conversation and long-term or short-term relationship potential. The original Kleinke study found that everyone agreed that cute-flippant lines were the worst; go with innocuous or direct lines. Both studies found this to be particularly true for women. Senko and Fyffe found long-term relationship seeking women much less receptive to a flippant pickup line even though the men were judged as more sociable, more confident, and funnier. Conversely, they were also deemed to be less trustworthy and less intelligent. Short-term relationship seeking women judged a man based on his attractiveness rather than his choice of opener. Nice when your findings line up with the theory isn’t it?Okay, so now we have zeroed in on the categories that work best: innocuous and direct. But is there something about the lines themselves that make them successful? A 2006 study by Bale et al. aimed to construct a pencil and paper instr... Read more »

Brown, W., Cronk, L., Grochow, K., Jacobson, A., Liu, C., Popović, Z., & Trivers, R. (2005) Dance reveals symmetry especially in young men. Nature, 438(7071), 1148-1150. DOI: 10.1038/nature04344  

Neave, N., McCarty, K., Freynik, J., Caplan, N., Honekopp, J., & Fink, B. (2010) Male dance moves that catch a woman's eye. Biology Letters, 7(2), 221-224. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.0619  

Bale, C., Morrison, R., & Caryl, P. (2006) Chat-up lines as male sexual displays. Personality and Individual Differences, 40(4), 655-664. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2005.07.016  

Cooper, M., O’Donnell, D., Caryl, P., Morrison, R., & Bale, C. (2007) Chat-up lines as male displays: Effects of content, sex, and personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 43(5), 1075-1085. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2007.03.001  

  • February 11, 2015
  • 08:02 AM
  • 875 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. […]

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Excuse me potential juror: Is your brain red or blue?
“This county is about 65% Republican, 25% Democrat and 10% Independent.”
fMRIs and Persuasion: Did anyone tell the jurors?


... Read more »

  • February 10, 2015
  • 10:02 AM
  • 1,547 views

Moral Time: Does Our Internal Clock Influence Moral Judgments?

by Jalees Rehman in Fragments of Truth

Does morality depend on the time of the day? The study "The Morning Morality Effect: The Influence of Time of Day on Unethical Behavior" published in October of 2013 by Maryam Kouchaki and Isaac Smith suggested that people are more honest in the mornings, and that their ability to resist the temptation of lying and cheating wears off as the day progresses. In a series of experiments, Kouchaki and Smith found that moral awareness and self-control in their study subjects decreased in the late afternoon or early evening. The researchers also assessed the degree of "moral disengagement", i.e. the willingness to lie or cheat without feeling much personal remorse or responsibility, by asking the study subjects to respond to questions such as "Considering the ways people grossly misrepresent themselves, it's hardly a sin to inflate your own credentials a bit" or "People shouldn't be held accountable for doing questionable things when they were just doing what an authority figure told them to do" on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Interestingly, the subjects who strongly disagreed with such statements were the most susceptible to the morning morality effect. They were quite honest in the mornings but significantly more likely to cheat in the afternoons. On the other hand, moral disengagers, i.e. subjects who did not think that inflating credentials or following questionable orders was a big deal, were just as likely to cheat in the morning as they were in the afternoons.
... Read more »

  • February 9, 2015
  • 10:08 AM
  • 1,017 views

Resisting Valentine's Day

by Jalees Rehman in Fragments of Truth

To celebrate Valentine's Day (as a geeky scientist), I decided to search the "Web of Science" database for published articles with the phrase "Valentine's Day" in the title.The article with the most citations was "Market-resistance and Valentine's Day events" published in the Journal of Business Research in 2009, by the authors Angeline Close and George Zinkhan. The title sounded rather interesting so I decided to read it. The authors reported the results of a survey of college students and consumers conducted in 2003-2005 regarding their thoughts about gift-giving on Valentine's Day.
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Close, A., & Zinkhan, G. (2009) Market-resistance and Valentine's Day events. Journal of Business Research, 62(2), 200-207. DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2008.01.027  

  • February 9, 2015
  • 08:02 AM
  • 969 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 […]

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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
  • 08:02 AM
  • 791 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 […]

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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
  • 06:39 PM
  • 1,095 views

The Psychology of Procrastination: How We Create Categories of the Future

by Jalees Rehman in Fragments of Truth

Paying bills, filling out forms, completing class assignments or submitting grant proposals – we all have the tendency to procrastinate. We may engage in trivial activities such as watching TV shows, playing video games or chatting for an hour and risk missing important deadlines by putting off tasks that are essential for our financial and professional security. Not all humans are equally prone to procrastination, and a recent study suggests that this may in part be due to the fact that the tendency to procrastinate has a genetic underpinning. Yet even an individual with a given genetic make-up can exhibit a significant variability in the extent of procrastination. A person may sometimes delay initiating and completing tasks, whereas at other times that same person will immediately tackle the same type of tasks even under the same constraints of time and resources. A fully rational approach to task completion would involve creating a priority list of tasks based on a composite score of task importance and the remaining time until the deadline. The most important task with the most proximate deadline would have to be tackled first, and the lowest priority task with the furthest deadline last. This sounds great in theory, but it is quite difficult to implement. A substantial amount of research has been conducted to understand how our moods, distractability and impulsivity can undermine the best laid plans for timely task initiation and completion. The recent research article "The Categorization of Time and Its Impact on Task Initiation" by the researchers Yanping Tu (University of Chicago) and Dilip Soman (University of Toronto) investigates a rather different and novel angle in the psychology of procrastination: our perception of the future.
... Read more »

  • February 4, 2015
  • 08:02 AM
  • 843 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 […]

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Is racial bias fueling anti-Obama rhetoric?
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Excuse me while I slip into something more Caucasian


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  • February 2, 2015
  • 08:02 AM
  • 1,214 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 […]

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Smiling and credibility: Is it different for male and female witnesses at trial?
The Islamophobia Scale: Measuring our fear of Muslims
Overdoing it: Is there such a thing as too little anxiety in your witness?


... Read more »

  • January 31, 2015
  • 11:15 AM
  • 1,112 views

An approach towards ethics: neuroscience and development

by Alexander Yartsev in Evolutionary Games Group

For me personally it has always been a struggle, reading through all the philosophical and religious literature I have a long standing interest in, to verbalize my intuitive concept of morals in any satisfactory way. Luckily for me, once I’ve started reading up on modern psychology and neuroscience, I found out that there are empirical […]... Read more »

Avram, M., Gutyrchik, E., Bao, Y., Pöppel, E., Reiser, M., & Blautzik, J. (2013) Neurofunctional correlates of esthetic and moral judgments. Neuroscience Letters, 128-32. PMID: 23262080  

  • January 30, 2015
  • 08:02 AM
  • 790 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 […]

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Republicans prefer ‘Republican-looking’ political candidates
You wanted to be a leader! Act like one! (or else)
“Reactions vary along traditional partisan lines”


... 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
  • 02:45 PM
  • 1,169 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
  • 08:02 AM
  • 771 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 intentions
A new question for the jury: Did my brain implant make me do it?


... 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  

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