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A Mind Made Up!

I call it the Firefighter Fact Experiment (research paper here) I am a nut for psychological research studies. (which probably explains why I sometimes write about them in Our Blog) Plus, I hearken back to my political science college days, because that was always such a moving target of information anyway. (Notice how I just rambled on there about nothingness?)

So back to my Firefighter Fact Experiment and how it relates to kneeling during the National Anthem. Do I have your attention or are you so bored of hearing about the kneel down, that you are almost about to stop reading the blog. Wait… that’s exactly what the research says!

Two groups were given a story about firefighters, and then a questionnaire to answer about the fact pattern. The study was done by Anderson, Lepper and Ross in 1980. (attached above).

One group was given information that proved that successful firefighters are also risk-takers. The second research group was given information that supported the idea that firefighters are not risk-takers at all, and that’s the very reason they are successful. Complete opposite fact-patterns. The participants then filled out their questionnaires.

After that portion was completed, the research facilitator then announced that the information that they had just read “was completely fictitious. I made it up. There is no evidence one way or another“.

In a follow-up study after this announcement, the participants were then asked what they believed about firefighters, and why. In each study, the participants still believed the original information that they had received. The announcement that it had all been made up did not change their opinion. They couldn’t give reasons why they believed the different views on firefighters and risk-taking. They simply had formed that opinion and it was not changed by the announcement.

In jury trials, we call that the trial story. Once jurors make up their minds, it is typically difficult to get them to change their minds.

I think it’s the same way with political issues. Specifically, I have noticed that about opinions on kneeling during the National Anthem. Once an opinion is set, people don’t usually change their opinion. In fact, they just get stronger about their opinion. And I suspect you would also say to me right now.. “And they are not afraid to just keep repeating their opinion”. It’s the psychological effect of believing what I believe… because I believe it! And it keeps Facebook with many postings!


And for pic o’ day, sometimes it’s crazy what strikes my funny bone!




Just Bring Mints

How about a happy group get-together to start Our Monday Blog?



Have you ever received a bill at the end of your restaurant meal that has a smiley face drawn on it? Probably many times. It could be just a friendly server, but I have also been told that servers believe that they will get a larger tip because of it. Friendliness that pays!

That might be true, but there is real research to prove that there is really something that servers can do, to increase their tips by over 23%. Just one simple thing. Published in the Journal for Applied Psychology (study abstract here).

What to do? Bring mints with the bill. And how the server followed up with the mint even influenced the tip. Here’s a breakdown of the study:

  1. The first group included servers giving a single mint with the bill, with no mention of the mint. This increased tips by 3%.
  2. The second group of researchers had the servers bring two mints separate from the bill. The servers were also instructed to mention before bringing the mints, “Would anyone like some mints?”. This caused a 14% increase in the tip.
  3.  The final research study had servers bring out the bill with a pair of mints. Shortly thereafter, the waiter came back with another set of mints in case anyone wanted more. That last group saw an increase of 23% in the tip.

Why did the mints impact the tip? A love of mints? Not so much! Although, you can’t be angry at mints! Right?

The answer is that researchers concluded that being personal left a positive impression. Especially at the most important time. Right when they were paying their bill.

The advice from those researchers is to have personal follow-ups. Good advice for anyone wanting happy clients or customers. It’s probably also good advice for someone in the restaurant business. Invest in personality and mints! And always follow up!

And for our pic o’ day… Yep!


It All Makes Sense

The offices were closed for Thanksgiving and Friday; so sometimes after a holiday, it takes some motivation to get the engine going. Of course, I admit that I felt a little like this after my Thanksgiving meal.




I even said, “Let’s sit here a little bit. It’s going to take some effort for me to get to the car”. Clearly, we had some tremendous fixins’. As the comedian said, “the meal is not over when I’m full; the meal is over when I hate myself”.

So here comes a “mind twister” based on “mind research:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch procejt at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosnt mttaer waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe!

That research got me! But it did drive spell check crazy.  Even Mr. Frosty has to wonder… and he’s always in a good mood as long as he is cold.

On to the fun. Here’s a Monday special pic o’ that makes me smile:


And here’s our pic o’ day. It’s good to be back sitting at my desk!




Remembering What We Don’t Remember

Ben Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn”. Here is the story of a psychologist who would differ with that statement.

If you go to Elizabeth Loftus’ Wikipeida page, you will learn about her psychological studies and how she has faced great criticism  for her studies and findings in the field of false memories. She has testified many times as an expert witness in criminal cases while qualifying as an expert in Behavioral Psychology.

You might be interested in reading more on her therapeutic studies on weight loss and controlling the desire to lose weight through psychology. For the purposes of her impact in the field of law, I have read about her studies and belief that eyewitness testimony can be altered, based on the ability to alter a person’s memory of an event.

In an experiment done in the 1970’s, they brought people in and showed them slides of a car hitting a pedestrian. They were shown a slide of a red little sports car (Datsun) at a yellow Yield sign.

Then, the “test subjects” were asked  “Did you see another car pass the Datsun at the stop sign?”. When asked that question, most of the group truly remembered a Stop sign instead of a Yield sign.

Her studies thereafter set out to prove or disprove that a person’s memory could be changed or impacted and that the accuracy of memory became inaccurate.

Her findings have caused her to testify repeatedly that eyewitness testimony can be altered, and that something as simple as words and presentation can alter memory. Her testimony can be used to attack the testimony of police officers, depending on how they interviewed witnesses.

Her testimony as an expert, versus other testimony, as sometimes been described as the “memory wars”. Her opinions do give pause on the dependability of eyewitness testimony. I wonder what Ben Franklin would say? Of course, Franklin’s memory may have been impacted a bit by his own habits. As he put it, “In wine there is wisdom; in beer there is freedom; in water there is bacteria”.


And for pic o’ day, this one made me laugh when Amy M. sent it to me:



Needing Direction

December is a month of assessment and a month of planning at the Firm. It’s a good time to chart direction for the new year.

As I listened to Dr. Sherouse preach yesterday, he told about a study that confirms the notion that when we don’t know where we are going; That we walk in circles instead of a straight line. So, I decided to look for that study. One of the easy benefits of the Internet.

ABC News reported on the study that proves that humans do walk in circles when they are lost.  According to a group of scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, their experiment confirms our human behavior.

The researchers outfitted nine people with a global positioning tracking system. Then, some of the group was dropped off in a forest in Germany and other mini groups were dropped in the Sahara desert. They were told to walk in a straight line.

When they were able to use the sun or moon as guidance, there was some semblance of walking in a straight line. The findings of the study showed that our brains accumulate faulty signals about the body’s position in space. As a result, we do not have an “inner GPS system”.

Based on the study, the researchers found that it was “a reminder the we don’t have an innate sense of direction… you have to have navigation tools”. They walked in circles despite being told to walk in a straight line.

After hearing the sermon (thanks Pastor!) and then finding the study, it made me want to be more dilligent in planning. We all need direction to be successful! It doesn’t just happen.

And for pic o’ day, my mom sent me two for the blog today. One for the coffee and the second for Christmas!

coffee                   lights

The Cause and Effects

 “Drop a pebble in the water: just a splash, and it is gone; But there’s half-a-hundred ripples Circling on and on and on, Spreading, spreading from the center, flowing on out to the sea. And there is no way of telling where the end is going to be.” (James W. Foley)

Part of my job as a lawyer is to establish all the injury and damages from a crash. A while back I met with a doctor regarding his care for one of my clients. In the meeting, he told me that he did not like to tell his patients that they had a permanent injury. He felt that it would become self-limiting if they thought that they would never get better.

Sometimes in a jury trial, I will tell the jury about the injuries and medical bills in the case. Then I proceed to the elements of damage of my client that include pain and suffering and mental anguish. Sometimes that would make the jury roll their eyes just to hear the words pain and suffering. I think that they rolled their eyes because I didn’t do a very good job in conveying all that my client had suffered.

In one seminar that I attended, I heard a lawyer quantify pain and suffering. He reminded me that we gladly pay between $25-$75 for a shot of novacaine at the dentist’s office, just to be without pain for an hour. So, how much was pain and suffering worth for someone that was going to have it for the rest of their life.

Now, let me switch lanes here to discuss what would happen, if we could change our mental anguish. More specifically, studies have been done to reverse aging effects, just by changing environment, thinking and mindset. It kind of reminded me of that doctor who did not want his patients to think about their chronic pain and permanent injury.

The New York Times had a story in its Health section titled “What if Age Is Nothing but a Mind-Set?   I won’t be able to do justice to the study with a blog summary. Basically, it discusses the studies of a psychologist named Ellen Langer who believes that she has proven that we are what we think we are. She applied it to age.


Basically, she proved that we are as old as we think we are. In one study, she demonstrated in a study involving elderly at a nursing home, that memory can improve when incentives are given to remember. In another study, she brought 8 men in a controlled area and saw effects of the study that reversed the aging.

It’s admittedly a long article. For that reason, on a Monday you might not have time to read it. However, just as the effects of mental anguish may be overlooked; so may the effects of positive reinforcement. We are who we think we are!


And for pic o’ day…



A Benefit of Thankfulness

This week I am working from the South Carolina office. I stay at a nearby hotel downtown here in Greenville, and I can walk to the office. It’s that close. It seems like a perfect day with many reasons to be thankful.

     That’s my segue to the topic that is now backed with scientifc study. The Boston Globe reports that we should “Be thankful and make better long-term decisions”. According to the article, it describes why thankfulness helps us make better decisions. 

     A team of researchers led by a Northeastern University psychologist decided to study why people make impatient decisions described scientifically as “suboptimal”. These decisions result in problems such as credit card debt, obesity or even related to drug addiction.

     In the study, the researchers found that there is one emotion that can make us more patient. The findings are going to be published in the journal Psychological Science. Summed up, grateful people were more willing to forgo immediate temptation for a larger reward than people who were merely neutral or described themselves as happy.

     Psychologist David DeSteno explained that, “It probably is the case that we have specific emotions that make us take the long-term view; and if this is the case, that opens a whole new way to design interventions that can help people make better economic and purchasing decisions”.

     Time will tell whether this will help put down the cupcake and hit the gym, or save instead of going to the eBay app. The upside of the research is that there is now scientific proof that gratitude has its virtues. 


    DID YOU KNOW that Mr Clean (the cleaning detergent) is known in Spain as Don Limpio?


     And for pic o’ day, a bit of a nod toward Califnornia Chrome winning the Preakness Stakes:

horsing around

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