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DO I HAVE A CASE?

Currently Viewing Posts Tagged Confirmation Bias

Who Thinks Like Me?

On Saturday, I walked into a store called Collared Greens. It has clothing, which means that I bought some shirts. But, I immediately wondered why they don’t have a section called Collared Green Specific, that has all shades of green shirts. So, if you want to order a Teal, or Ocean, or Green shirt; you know where to go. Then I thought, “Why am I thinking this? Why am I taking this on?”.

A few years ago, a friend told me that he was going to open a furniture store. Because his last name is Plunkett, I asked him if he was going to use his last name. I immediately thought that he could open a bed and chair store. And run advertisements that announced, “When you are feeling tired, buy a bed or chair from us and just plunk it”.

It’s not that these are great ideas; it’s just me being me.

On the flip side, my brother-in-law thinks differently. As an engineer who builds houses, he drives by a house and immediately is looking at how the house is built. He can see fault in the construction. I see whether there is a good restaurant close-by for dinner.

A decorator might be interested in color and a tailor in the fit of clothing. We all bring different thinking to the jury box, if we are required to serve on a jury because we all look at things differently.

Now here’s the effect of that on verdicts. Psychologists call it confirmation bias. It’s the “tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions”.

At the beginning of trial, the judge always asks if I want to ask the jury any questions. It’s the Voir Dire process. Usually, I begin by telling the jury that I am going to ask some personal questions. But, at any time, they can interrupt me to tell me that they just don’t think that this is the case for them; because of some preconceived bias or prejudice that they have, because of the facts of the case.

This is what makes the jury system work. We all bring a different set of values and opinions in deciding the case. Justice is not based on robots. It’s based on a jury of peers.

I close with the mention of an old classic movie from 1957, that still stands as one of the all time courtroom drama movies. 12 Angry Men is a movie about 12 men on a jury, fighting to reach a consensus on a verdict. I am posting the Wikipedia description of the movie (HERE), but it’s worth searching to watch, as an example of jury deliberation.

And for pic o’ day and because it’s Valentine’s Day:

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