How Reptile and Rules of the Road approaches work

The Jury Expert asked me to respond to an academic study that found sad jurors are less likely to become angry and conversely, that angry jurors are less likely to feel sad. This is important because anger and empathy (related to sadness) drive juror decision-making and usually lead to larger verdicts.

I used two case studies to show how the emotional blunting research helps explain surprising verdicts. I also analyzed how emotions influence juror decision-making, including, how Reptile and Rules of the Road techniques trigger cognitive appraisals for anger, i.e., how jurors’ perceptions of certainty and control drive verdicts. David Ball contributed his insights, distinguishing motivating anger from passive, “impotent” anger, which is unhelpful to plaintiff attorneys and for problem-solving, in general.

When jurors are certain that the defendant had control of a bad outcome, they return a larger verdict than when the focus of the trial is on other issues, especially if the focus is on confusing expert testimony. Interestingly, certainty about fault and causation are influenced by certainty of other, unrelated events and how angry the jurors are feeling, overall. I also discuss how jurors’ perception of risk is affected by their emotions and by the sequencing of evidence in trial. The article will be published on Monday, May 30th and is available here for download.

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