Effort Justification

July 27th, 2021|

Social psychology is amazing (at least, in my opinion!) in its ability to explain things that would otherwise be hard to understand. Take the topic of effort justification as one example. Cognitive dissonance theory postulates that people do not like to have two attitudes or beliefs that conflict with one another. Cognitive dissonance leads to an internal tension. For example, if I pay a lot of money to see Paul McCartney in concert, then upon attending the concert, found out he could no longer sing, I would have cognitive dissonance. (Note to the reader: This would be impossible! Paul

Is your consultant a criminal?

July 22nd, 2021|

This is a strange topic: Is your consultant a criminal? In this context, it is related to your trial consultant. When one hires a new employee, most often, a variety of background checks are conducted. A lawyer’s criminal history is policed by Bar associations; similarly, other licensed professions are vetted. But, what about professions not requiring a license, like trial consulting? The only trial consulting organization, the American Society of Trial Consultants does not vet members in any way, including for criminal history. So, does your consultant have a criminal record? How do you know? Does it matter? I

Output = Effort x Ability

July 20th, 2021|

Social psychologists, as well as other types of psychologists, have studied achievement motivation for many decades. In goal directed situations, there are several ways in which someone can achieve the desired outcome: ability, effort, and luck. Success and failure also depend, of course, on the difficulty of the task being undertaken. When considered together, these 4 elements of achievement behavior provide a foundation for understanding how people succeed or fail in a variety of situations, from the world or work to learning how to play a musical instrument or how to pitch a fastball. In the years David and

Exude Competence

July 15th, 2021|

Many years ago, when I was working for another trial consultant, one of the clients spoke to my boss and told her that I “exuded competence.” The boss was happy to hear this and to tell me. I took it as a high compliment because it reinforced my goal of doing what I say I’m going to do. I was glad someone noticed. This has always been my objective – to get the job done, to ensure clients, whether it was back in my days as a photographer, or today as a trial consultant, know the service I or

The Major League

May 25th, 2021|

My family is a baseball family. My dad, the late Park T. Pigott, Sr. played baseball, coached baseball, and generally speaking, lived much of his life for baseball. I am not usually fond of sports analogies, however, recent experiences with clients of Magnus Research Consultants have reminded me of baseball. Almost all of Magnus’ clients “play in the major league,” in that they are trial lawyers and litigators who are at the pinnacle of their legal career, with cases of a substantial magnitude that warrant retaining a trial consultant. Our most recent client, as one example, is a criminal

Politics of Litigation

May 20th, 2021|

Magnus is hired for many reasons. To evaluate the liability issues in the case. To assess the damages potential. To determine at whom to point fingers. To get a plaintiff to understand the realities of their case. To get a defendant to understand the realities of their case. Is it a case to try? Is it a case to settle? For insurance adjusters, how can I get my supervisor and her/his supervisor, to authorize settlement? Or, should we fight it at trial? Only in this last example, learned years ago, did I ever get an inkling of an idea

Holiday Inn

May 18th, 2021|

I wish it were possible to know the number of Holiday Inns where I have stayed and the number of nights I have stayed in them. When my parents and I traveled across the “lower 48″ states in the United States, our hotel of choice was Holiday Inn. Often, we planned our itinerary around the location of Holiday Inns. I loved swimming in the pool in every Holiday Inn we visited. Those were the days! In my work as a trial consultant since 1989, my travels have taken me across the United States, from Alaska to the U.S. Virgin

Retainers

May 13th, 2021|

Call it a deposit; call it a retainer. Magnus doesn’t start work without one (except in rare circumstances beyond the scope of this post). We need money, we want money; importantly, other people want money. We learned, the hard way, that clients need to “show us the money.” One of our first cases blew up on us and the client pulled the plug after we started spending our money on his behalf (and we had little to spend in year 1). He cost us what seemed like a fortune at the time and we never heard from him again.

Bystander apathy

May 11th, 2021|

Why do some people help others in need while other people appear to ignore the suffering of another person? What factors make it likely that bystanders will intervene when a stranger is in obvious need of help, for example, while being attacked in a public place? What is the impact of other people on the willingness of someone to help a stranger in distress? These, and related, questions have been asked and answered by social psychologists over the past 50 years. In fact, the bystander effect, also known as bystander apathy, is one of the most frequently researched topics

Heuristical thinking

May 5th, 2021|

Biases and heuristics often, but not always, go hand in hand. While bias is attributed to the absence of reflective thought, leading to limitations in judgment, heuristics are used intentionally when making inferences. Heuristics are common sense reasoning strategies employed by laypersons. They are “shortcuts” that accelerate the decision making process. Heuristics may or may not be based on logic and they may or may not lead to the correct decision. Heuristics have been extensively researched by social psychologists (and economists) since the 1970s. Magnus’ reports often include the heuristics employed by mock jurors when they deliberate on a case.