Entries Tagged as 'News and Views'

“More Bull” – A deeper look into the new hit show on CBS

#DrBullReadsYou , Ask Amy , Bull , CBS , Dr.Phil , Experts/Witnesses , Juror Profiling , Jury Analytics , Jury Selection , News and Views , Persuasion , real- time social media analytics , Trial Consultants , Trial Topics , Wizpor No Comments »
  Posted on 11/10/2016 – Trial Consultants, Inc.® and Wizpor® 

By: Dr. Amy Singer, Ph.D & Kristina Denius, JD.

The new CBS television hit series “Bull” follows Dr. Jason Bull, an extremely intelligent, cocky, yet charming trial/litigation scientist who is hired by attorneys to ensure that the verdict in the deliberation room is favorable to their client. Week after week, Dr. Bull achieves this by analyzing how a potential juror will react to certain facts in any given case, and whether their decision making process will lead that juror to vote for his client. Dr. Bull has an uncanny knack for discovering what makes people tick. He is an astute observer with a keen sense of intuition that borders on clairvoyant. He uses his observations about human behavior and attitudes to manipulate juror thinking in such a way that the panel as a whole ultimately finds in his client’s favor. All of this is achieved not without the usual Hollywood tactics, sometimes outlandish, made-for-television entertainment embellishments.  For instance, no trial consultant who wants a long and successful career would actually treat their attorney colleagues as rudely and disrespectfully as Dr. Bull does. 


A troubling off-shoot of the “Bull” phenomenon is the paranoia it fosters in its viewer-ship.  The “Big Brother” type manner in which Dr. Bull is able to “dig up” personal information on potential jurors with the whisk of a keystroke is alarming to some viewers, even sparking concerns about the future of the American judicial system. Some find the possibility that certain “skeletons in the closet” could be unveiled by a trial consultant during jury research, or actual jury duty, downright scary. However, there is no need for panic. No trial consultant worth their salt would ever seek such information. Not only is it impractical to do so, it is well established in the trial science community that such information does not correlate to jury verdicts. 

Ironically, the most revealing information about a juror is information that most people are happy to share with others, such asan individual’s core beliefs, aka their value beliefs. Value Beliefs are the core internal precepts by which people think and operate, and as such are very unlikely to ever change. For example, “I believe that taking care of one’s elders in their twilight years is essential to family structure” is a value belief, and to the delight of trial consultants everywhere, people take pride in their value beliefs and talk about them freely with no need for any invasive prying. This is the sort of information that people WANT to share with others, and it is the type of information that enables trial consultants to do their jobs so well. 

In order to promote “Bull,” CBS has partnered with Vigiglobe’s “social media analytic platform” to launch “What Type of Juror are You?” a cyber-oriented experience that interacts with users on Twitter.  Users who want to find out what “type” of juror Dr. Bull believes they might be enter the “Bull” Twitter handle (@BullCBS) with the tag #DrBullReadsYou. Based on an analysis of the individual’s previous tweets, Vigiglobe’s program then classifies the individual into one of six categories: BelievaBULL, GulliBULL, ReasonaBULL, DependaBULL, NoBULL, or SwayaBULL.  While this “digital jury analytics experience” may have proven to be a slick and successful marketing tool for CBS and “Bull” the television show, what does this sort of technology mean for the attorney, the client, and the ultimate outcome of their case, in the real world? The simple answer is, “not much.” 

Demographics, life experiences, and personality traits of people can certainly be interesting. But, the fact that you are a divorced female taxi driver with a golden retriever, and people think you are nice, does not tell us anything about whether or not you are going to award nine million dollars in a products liability case where the main issue is causation.  

Interestingly, the question for the trial consultant is not “how do you go about determining who the best potential jurors are in this case?” Rather, because the jury selection process is actually a “Deselection®” process, the question becomes “what type of person are we looking to eliminate given the evidence, testimony and arguments in this particular case?” Selecting a jury is actually a process of using carefully tuned voir dire questions to “weed out” jurors who will be the most dangerous to an attorney’s case, based on core value beliefs. 

For instance, the IBM Watson Program can tell us that a person has a low tolerance for ambiguity, and this is how it will affect their perception of the jury instructions for causation in a products liability case. Because causation is by its very nature intrinsically subjective, this type of juror is a red flag, one that must be carefully evaluated with other “tolerance for ambiguity factors” in order to advise plaintiff’s counsel about whether or not to use their precious peremptory challenges.  In fact, given the arsenal of factor analysis for ambiguity available to the psychologist, this person would probably go for cause.

That isn’t to say there are not software systems out there that purport to have a magic formula, algorithms, or the key, to accurately predicting future juror behavior.  There are plenty of software programs that say “this is who this person is.” But that’s not going far enough to actually predict juror behavior, to predict how a particular juror is going to internalize, and then vote on, a particular aspect of a case. To do that, a savvy trial scientist needs to step beyond the limited scope of the analysis performed by CBS with “Bull” viewers. 

Wizpor technology and its Voltaire application are constantly evolving to meet this end. Wizpor analyzes information in real time as it is being gathered electronically from mock jury and focus group participants.  Each response is coded by dependent variables, which include Questions, Observations, Judgments, Game Changers, Identification/Relating Statements, and Emotional Responses. These variables tell us what is important to the juror, and how the juror is internalizing the information presented about the case particulars. In this manner, Wizpor technology is achieving what “#DrBullReadsYou” has not, the ability to not only tell you what “type” of person you are dealing with, but more importantly the additional how this “type” will respond to your case. Telling somebody that this person is a dog lover is not as important as understanding whether dog lovers award more money for disfigurement. By the way, if you don’t know the answer, now understand why not: one variable does not a factor make.

Wizpor is complemented by the Voltaire Application, which mines social media information, market research information, and public record information with their proprietary analytics. Voltaire takes massive amounts of data, impossible for a human being to analyze, and analyzes it in milliseconds. The information that is mined goes through various algorithms to tell you how all of this information affects case strategy, and with Deselection® decisions, results in a much lower error rate than what the archaic “Bull” Made-for-TV methods are showing, “freaking out” the public.  In this way, Wizpor and Voltaire not only give the attorney important data, but also tell the attorney what that data means for their case. And this is invaluable knowledge to have when precious principles of justice are at stake for the attorney’s client.

For more information on Trial Consultants, Inc.® and Wizpor® which features Persuasion Research Technology® please visit: www.trialconsultants.com or www.wizpor.com.

You may also email our firm at Trialconsultants@gmail.com or Jurydoctor@aol.com to speak with our team about these new and innovative methods for jury research and trial strategy. 

 

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Jury decides insurer should pay $14.3 million in medical malpractice case

News and Views , Medical Malpractice No Comments »

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-ismie-malpractice-judgment-1112-biz-20151111-story.html

 

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Leveraging Social Media for Litigation Psychology

Social Media , Wizpor , News and Views No Comments »

November 9, 2015

By Amy Singer, Ph.D. and  Kemberlee Bonnet

Social media is allowing researchers the chance to study human behavior in a new context, as users are freely revealing more and more information about themselves at both the individual and community levels. Researchers can analyze interactions that a person has with another individual or their announcements or “rants” at the public level. The information is given to us without restrictions, allowing researchers to collect data unobtrusively. 

In data collection in the context of litigation psychology, it is important to consider that jurors bring with them their own life experiences, attitudes and outlooks that ultimately guide the decision-making process at trial. As trial consultants, we explore potential jurors’ thoughts, feelings, prior knowledge and experiences on a given topic as part of our analyses in that decision-making process. It is remarkable that this information can be discovered, not only in live voir dire, but through social media, and can be explained by psychological theory and phenomena.

Mining social media has its potential to extract valuable data patterns that can be beneficial researchers. We have put together some of the interesting psychological phenomena and theory applied to social media participation and a glimpse of how they guide attorneys in trial strategy.

Transparency Effect

One of the most fascinating and unusual phenomenon that manifests in the use of social media, is the transparency in personal expression. Researchers are using this information to their benefit and are now collecting data via online focus groups, discussion boards and social networking sites, as this raw and unfiltered data is like gold to a social scientist. In litigation, this phenomenon enables attorneys to obtain case-specific information via data mining or online focus groups, expressive information of which is direct and less censored. As trial consultants, we advise attorneys to take advantage of the unfiltered opinions and outlooks on the given issue that individuals would not provide in a live focus group or voir dire. The data is used to scientifically create successful trial strategies and voir dire techniques, specifically, to de-select jurors from a panel.

Social Influence

Another psychological theory pertinent in social media participation is Social Influence Theory. Social influence typically occurs when one’s emotions, opinions, decisions or behaviors are affected by others, and can be seen in conformity and leadership, for example. Most social influence studies have been traditionally conducted in laboratory settings, but research through social media is giving us a more generalizable and up-to-date context.

Social influence takes on many forms. One way in which the theory reveals itself is via “influencers”. An influencer on a jury panel is seen by the rest of the panel as an “expert” on a given case-specific topic and this individual has typically had similar life experiences that are critical to deciding the case. He or she will most likely express that familiarity with the experience and their opinions and views regarding those experiences.

Social media research and online focus groups enables us to identify influencers before a trial begins. For example, via online focus groups and discussion boards we have successfully identified the type of data that an influencer provides and ways in which to spot and steer clear of them if they are in favor of the opposition. Influencers are extremely important, as they help sway the group decision one way or another.  We analyze cognitions, affect and life experience to help identify these, importantly, negative influencers and de-select the ones that will most likely yield the least favorable outcome (negative influencers), while keeping positive influencers under the radar to opposing counsel so that they can remain on the panel.

Attitudes

In Social Psychology, attitudes are considered to be the fundamental orientation to evaluate people, situations and ideas. Attitudes are not always consciously accessible, but nevertheless guide decision making. Importantly, attitudes can foster identification with social groups.

Attitudes are difficult to measure via self-report and that form of data collection is less reliable, due to social desirability effects. This can be combatted, however, in measuring attitudes via social media. On social media, it is fascinating that implicit attitudes become apparent, via the transparency effect.

For example, stereotypes associated with a defendant can have a significant impact on a jury’s verdict. Jurors on a live face-to-face face panel might go out of their way to suppress prejudicial attitudes. Nevertheless their attitudes, however implicit, still remain. In social media participation, those attitudes tend to manifest themselves, thanks to the transparency effect. Social media focus group research can tap into those attitudes because these participants are less likely to go out of their way to filter their responses. Such information is valuable to litigators whose case may involve, for example, a racially-charged crime.

Conclusion

Transparency and greater external validity leveraging social media is all well and good. However, many of my clients ask: “what does this really mean”? As Sigmund Freud once said, “once we name a thing by its rightful name, we begin to alter its  power”. The research questions become: What are we identifying? How do we analyze this phenomenon? How do we interpret this data?  What is our criteria for measurement? Fortunately, today’s litigators can use computer programs, such as Wizpor® to provide text analysis, sentiment analysis and channel analysis for predictive mined data.

The prevalent use of social media has produced extraordinary amounts of social data, as social media provides easily an accessible platform information sharing. Social media is beneficial in that you can collect real-time data, as peoples’ posts reveal the most-recent events, opinions and attitudes. If you are looking to find out about what a potential juror might think about your case, online interaction will help you obtain the valuable information from your target population in our society; information that would otherwise be nearly impossible to obtain at the face-to-face level.

The best way to tap in to all of these constructs is to work closely with a litigation psychologist well versed in applied research.  These experts are skilled at the analysis of psychological constructs using the societal trajectory of interaction.

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Trial and Social Media: Researching Potential Jurors

News and Views No Comments »

By Hayes Hunt and Brian Kint

jurors.jpgSocial media is a mainstay in daily life. Over a billion people are registered users of Facebook. The Facebook logo and the logos of other social networking giants such as Twitter are quickly becoming as iconic as McDonald’s Golden Arches or Apple’s apple. As the popularity of social networking sites grew, industries scrambled to utilize such a powerful tool. The legal profession is no exception. 

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Why Did They Let Her on the Zimmerman Jury?

News and Views , Zimmerman No Comments »

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