How to Use “Herd Mentality” to Your Advantage

As advanced as humans are, we are still primitively just mammals belonging to a herd.  Animals and people stay in herds because it provides safety.  If one member finds danger, the rest of the herd is alerted.  Think about being out in the African desert completely alone.  Now picture having a group of people there with you.  I would suspect your stomach felt very different imaging the two scenarios. 

Jurors are no different.  In mock trials and focus groups, I ask jurors what other information they think would be helpful.  There is often one juror who wants to know what other jurors in similar cases decided – how much money did they give?  The want to know the precedent.  Why?  Because they want to follow the herd. 

You can use this mentality to your advantage in several ways.  Some of those methods are taught in “Reptile” seminars with David Ball and Don Keenan and I would suggest attending to get more plaintiff-specific methods.  Here, I want to mention some basics. 

1. When talking to experts or witnesses, use the word “us” instead of “the jury.”  For example, “Dr. X, can you explain to US how the blood vessels became clotted?”  This puts you in the same boat as the jury and unifies the jury as one group.

2. Get jurors to see their own commonalities.  You can start to unify jurors as a group early on in voir dire.  Explain how most people who get jury summons don’t want to come but they all have something in common – they all showed up.

3.  Frame questions for your experts in a manner that hints at what others may think.  For example, ask experts, “so, most agree…?”  This hints to jurors that others think one way and to be part of the herd, they better follow.

4. In closing, tell jurors “I wish I could tell you what other jurors in cases like this do, but I’m not allowed to.”  This insinuates that what you say is in line with what other juries say or do.  Greg Cusimano is very good at this method so I suggest reading up on his works as well.

To finish it off, I’m posting  a video purely for entertainment purposes but it certainly demonstrates herd mentality:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYTBOhicf4g&feature=player_embedded

2 Comments

Filed under Focus Groups, Jury Research, Misc, Uncategorized, Voir Dire

2 responses to “How to Use “Herd Mentality” to Your Advantage

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