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We have blogged a few times here on the ways conservatives and liberals differ — in fact, for a while it seemed there was new research coming out about differences between those two groups routinely. But now we have another one—narcissism apparently shows up in different ways depending on whether you are liberal or conservative.?

The researchers were looking at the relationship between social narcissism and political behaviors and values. They surveyed 750 American adults (a nationally representative sample) between October 26 and November 1, 2016. They used the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (a measure commonly used in social sciences research) and found that, overall, levels of narcissism were about the same between liberals and conservatives. But when they looked at specific aspects of narcissism—there were differences between the two groups.?

Liberals were more exhibitionistic and conservatives were more entitled.?

For example, conservatives were more likely to agree with statements like, “I insist upon getting the respect that is due to me”.

Liberals were more likely to agree with statements like, “I get upset when people don’t notice how I look when I go out in public”.?

The researchers believe this finding means that “activation of one’s sense of entitlement appears to be related to moving an individual to the right. On the other hand, activation of one’s need to display their values is related to left leaning political positions”. However, they also say that the larger takeaway is that narcissism is part of all of us.?

It is tempting to view labels (liberal, conservative, narcissist, et cetera) as entities, as if the label means the same thing to two different conservatives, or that narcissism only takes a single form. But the research points out the fallacy of that view. As a psychologist, narcissism is an interesting concept to me. It takes healthy and unhealthy forms, it can be provoked during times of stress, and it can be less visible at other times. But everyone likes to have their ego gently stroked, if done properly. And that is playing to narcissism.

What this study suggests is that if you want to appeal to the narcissism of conservative jurors, include language that discusses issues around what justice demands in recognition for work and fairness.

With liberals, they want to be admired and to be seen as admirable, so they want to be credited with striving to make the world better and want recognition for their efforts.

This is a nuanced distinction, but the focus on looking past the label and considering how it will mean different things to different people is very worthwhile.

dang ky nhan tien cuoc mien phiPeter K. Hatemi Zoltán Fazekas (2018). Narcissism and Political Orientations. American Journal of Political Science,


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As you probably know by now, we read a lot of articles for inclusion on this blog but also de-select many potentially worthy pieces because they just do not spark our imaginations. It’s time again for a collection of miscellany—articles that didn’t merit a full post but that we wanted to share because they are worthy tidbits.?

“I’m a scientist and I changed my mind about an earlier publication”

This is a controversy we have blogged about before (a number of times). Dana Carney did research with Amy Cuddy on power poses but later changed her mind as to whether the conclusions of the work were “real”. There was much argument in the academic community with some supporting Carney and others supporting Cuddy. But now—instead of bickering—here’s a real solution for scientists who have “changed their minds”.?

We are currently watching the work of the new site “Undark” ( Their tagline is “come into the undark” and they have just started a way for scientists to submit “loss of confidence” statements mainly focused on psychology studies, and with ground rules for submissions. The project is creatively named the Loss of Confidence Project. The author needs to take responsibility for the issues (since this is for publication and not for whistle-blowing), and the collective results will ultimately be published in an academic paper. You can read more about this program and other ways academics are expressing a change of heart here.

Can screen time increase moral awareness? Apparently, yes.

Here’s some work out of the University of Texas at Austin that culminated in the development of an open access “video-based behavioral ethics curriculum” that has been adopted by educational institutions around the world (that was fast—the press release was in mid-August, 2018!). The video was based on a two-year survey of 8,600 UT Austin undergraduates. Here is how the press release described the development of the video series:?

Before being exposed to the Ethics Unwrapped videos, more than half of the students surveyed reported a lack of confidence in their ability to identify, discuss, or apply ethics concepts such as conflict of interest, conformity bias and relativism. After viewing the videos, 88 percent reported feeling either “confident” or “very confident.” And 90 percent reported that watching the videos helped them better understand ethics concepts. [snip]

“Millennials and Gen Zers spend more than 50 percent of their waking time on screens,” said Cara Biasucci, creator and program director for Ethics Unwrapped. “This program meets them where they’re at, with a video format that appeals to their emotional and moral sense as well as the thinking part of their brain.”

And here is the page for the open access (i.e., free) video series entitled Ethics Unwrapped. This is likely a good example of where your visual evidence should go to attract and retain the attention of younger jurors.? ?

How we can predict trustworthy intentions and behavior in others

Here’s a new research article published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The researchers look at what makes people more or less trustworthy (which they say is a shift from the prior literature focus on what makes us more or less trusting). The researchers completed six separate studies and here is what they found.?

If you are high in guilt-proneness, you are more trustworthy than someone low in guilt-proneness. Specifically, those high in guilt-proneness feel a higher level of interpersonal responsibility when they are trusted by others and are less likely to exploit those who have trusted them.?

The authors conclude that guilt-prone individuals are good risks for us to trust and urge further research (because they have tenure to achieve). Here is a press release summarizing the work and here is an open access link currently available for the full text of the article.?

Levine, EE Bitterly, TB Cohen, TR, Schweitzer, ME (2018). Who is trustworthy? Predicting trustworthy intentions and behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 115(3), 468-494.?


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Pew Research Center continually puts out well-researched and well-written reports on data generated by their surveys of the American public. They have a newer report out on how generational status is related to views of racial discrimination. Pew comments on the report this way:?

“Generational differences have long been a factor in U.S. politics. These divisions are now as wide as they have been in decades, with the potential to shape politics well into the future.

From immigration and race to foreign policy and the scope of government, two younger generations, Millennials and Gen Xers, stand apart from the two older cohorts, Baby Boomers and Silents. And on many issues, Millennials continue to have a distinct – and increasingly liberal – outlook.”

Reading these reports regularly is a good way to maintain awareness of shifting attitudes of your potential jurors. Pew thinks that, if Millennials and GenXers vote, they will influence politics “well into the future”. For some of us, this report will be reassuring and for others it will not.?

The report itself is full of information on the many issues American generations disagree on with younger Americans more supportive of immigration, more liberal, less religiously affiliated, more likely to be Democrat by self-report, more likely to prefer “bigger” government, more supportive of universal healthcare, and more supportive of social services for the needy. Yet, they are no more likely to be trusting of the government than other generations.?

If you choose juries, appear in court for trials, or need to keep up on changing norms—this report is a must-read piece.?

The Generation Gap in American Politics: Wide and growing divides in views of racial discrimination. Pew Research. March 1, 2018. ?

Image from report itself

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We’ve all seen this finding before: men who communicate their ideas forcefully are seen as assertive and as having leadership qualities. Women who communicate their ideas forcefully are judged more harshly and negatively. What about hate speech on social media? Are women judged more harshly than men there??

Please. You really have to ask? Of course women are judged more harshly for hate speech on social media!?

And it doesn’t matter if you are a woman speaking hate or speaking what is called “counter [hate] speech” You are going to get blasted either way. This new article was published in the journal Sex Roles and is available open access here. The researchers asked male and female participants to read hate speech attributed to male and female authors and to identify which comments they would individually ‘flag’ to alert the moderators of an inappropriate comment in the online arena.?

Here is what the authors say about what participants in the research did when they encountered hate speech said to be written by women:

In the specific case of comments [women wrote that were] directed against women and sexual minorities, hate comments by female authors are perceived as an act of double deviance [since women are expected to be kind] and are therefore sanctioned more strictly than such hate comments by men.?

The researchers also found that women were equally critical of other women as were men (which we see often during litigation and in pretrial research—with women sometimes being even more critical of other women).?

And, as you might expect, when the researchers asked participants in their study what hate speech comments they would ‘flag’ to alert the moderators—both men and women would flag women’s hateful comments at a higher rate than they would flag similar hateful comments by men.?

However, both sexes equally judged hate comments by women and men differently resulting in a backlash effect against women indicated by higher scores of flagging a comment made by a woman than flagging a comment made by a man.?

As the authors review their findings they comment that gender shapes morality. They explain that conclusion by saying that women are more concerned about fairness and avoiding harm to others than men are (at least in online forums where both genders flag offensive comments). Deviant and agentic online behavior by women is judged more strictly than such behavior by men (and judged more strictly by both men and woman).?

The authors conclude with this intriguing comment that we would all do well to remember:?

Gender not only shapes people’s morality but, and even more relevant to our study, pre-determines what is seen as socially deviant and what is not. Regardless of the gender of the one evaluating the comment, intentions to flag hate speech and counter-speech comments increase if the commenter is a woman.

We work to identify bias and stereotypes wherever we can and it is always a part of litigation advocacy. From a litigation advocacy perspective, this study teaches an invaluable lesson:

Sometimes, it is easy to fail to recall that for women, racial or ethnic minorities, members of the LGBTQ community, and all others who are “different” for one reason or another—just being who they are elicits automatic bias and differential treatment.?

The task for the litigation advocate is to figure out how to make the out-group member more understood, and mitigate that automatic bias.?

Gendered Morality and Backlash Effects in Online Discussions: An Experimental Study on How Users Respond to Hate Speech Comments Against Women and Sexual Minorities by Claudia Wilhelm and Sven Joeckel in Sex Roles. Published May 7 2018.


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We often find things we want to pass along but about which we do not wish to write an entire blog post. Here’s another installment of things you really (maybe, kind of) want to know.?

So, who is trusted more? Scientists or the government??

You have probably heard about research on “nudges” (which is the idea that if people are given small informational “nudges” they are likely to modify their behavior). If you read the popular news telling us scientists are in so much credibility trouble—you will be surprised by this one. Scientists are seen as more credible than the government even when their “news” is outlandish. This research came out of large-scale samples in both the US and the UK.

Keep in mind that people have actually been convinced that this is accurate information. Go figure! Here’s a quote:

“The nudges were introduced either by a group of leading scientific experts or a government working group consisting of special interest groups and policy makers.

Some of the nudges were real and had been implemented, such as using catchy pictures in stairwells to encourage people to take the stairs, while others were fictitious and actually implausible like stirring coffee anti-clockwise for two minutes to avoid any cancerous effects.”

Being a good leader

Forbes has a nice article on how to be a good leader. It is an edited and condensed interview with Elizabeth W. Smith, the new president and CEO of the Central Park Conservancy. It’s a quick read and filled with insights you can use in your own office/practice. This is a continuation of an earlier talk with her and the story links back to the earlier discussion if you want to learn more.?

Remember the “nerd defense”? Apparently it works with salary offers too

The Economist is a serious publication that often has very intriguing (and well written) social science articles. Here they tell us in all seriousness that people who wear eyeglasses earn more money.?

The use of the death penalty in the United States

Here’s a recent report from Pew Research on how often the death penalty is actually used in those states that still have a death penalty law. Here’s a quote from that brief report:?

Overall, 31 states, the federal government and the U.S. military authorize the death penalty, while 19 states and the District of Columbia do not [snip]. But 11 of the states that allow executions – along with the federal government and the U.S. military – haven’t had one in at least a decade.

Yes, it’s especially hard to be accepted as a woman when you are also an attorney

The Atlantic often has pithy, well-written, informative articles on a variety of topics. This time, they took a look at the uphill challenges faced by female attorneys (and guess what, it’s written by a female attorney). This is likely a story you should not read first thing on a Monday morning. Here’s an excerpt from near the end:?

In 1820, Henry Brougham, a lawyer tasked with defending Queen Caroline before the House of Lords against allegations by her husband, King George IV, that she had committed adultery and should be stripped of her crown, explained his role this way: “An advocate, in the discharge of his duty, knows but one person in all the world, and that person is his client. To save that client by all means and expedients, and at all hazards and costs to other persons, and, among them, to himself, is his first and only duty.”

I’ve always loved that definition of a lawyer’s work and its description of the sacrifices we make for our clients. But in the courtroom, whether as an attorney or as an instructor, I’m constantly reminded that women lawyers don’t have access to the same “means and expedients” that men do. So I tell my female students the truth: that their body and demeanor will be under relentless scrutiny from every corner of the courtroom. That they will have to pay close attention to what they wear and how they speak and move. That they will have to find a way to metabolize these realities, because adhering to biased expectations and letting slights roll off their back may be the most effective way to advance the interests of their clients in courtrooms that so faithfully reflect the sexism of our society.


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