Tag Archives: theory

Making Your Case Relevant to Millennial Jurors

By Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D.

It’s hard being in a place where you don’t speak the same language as those around you. Where everyone dresses differently. Where you don’t understand their values or what causes them to act in certain ways. It can make you feel overwhelmed, vulnerable, and make you long for home. Am I talking about traveling abroad? Not quite. I’m talking about millennials on your jury.

Millennials are a hot topic among lawyers these days, mainly because their presence on juries around the country continues to grow. A lot of people like to adopt a “kids these days” mentality and argue that there is something wrong with millennials and their worldviews. However, we have looked at the data, and there are not that many differences when it comes to common legal attitudes. For example, 63% of both millennials and non-millennials agreed that, “there should be limits on how much money a jury can award to a plaintiff in a lawsuit.” 87% of non-millennials agreed with the statement that, “too many people file lawsuits in an attempt to get money they do not deserve,” compared to 75% of millennials. Continue reading

Priming Jurors to Hate You and Your Client

By Thomas M. O’Toole, Ph.D.

The critical takeaway from any meaningful discussion about primacy theory and its role in persuading jurors is often the one that is least discussed. Those who tout the importance of primacy theory often talk about priming the jurors to achieve victory, but research shows the real takeaway should be to avoid the early mistakes that cost you the trial. In short, you cannot win your case in jury selection or opening, but you can lose it there.

Everybody knows first impressions are important, but some research shows that negative first impressions are much more powerful than neutral or positive first impressions. This is called the negativity bias and it has been investigated extensively by academic researchers. Specifically, negativity bias recognizes that negative experiences or perceptions have a greater effect on one’s psychological state than neutral or positive experiences. Continue reading