Understanding COVID-Gamblers in Your Panel | Holland & Hart – Persuasion Strategies
Each jury selection involves a variety of questions relating to how potential jurors might feel about the specific case. But there is one question that is relevant in every current jury selection for a face-to-face trial: How comfortable is the person sharing relatively close quarters indoors for extended periods of time while we are still in the extended launches of the coronavirus pandemic? Some will be vaccinated and some will not, but all are at least at some risk of receiving or transmitting the virus due to jury duty. Jurors’ subjective perceptions of this risk are important because few parties or judges will be insensitive enough to impose jury duty on someone who is clearly and vocally uncomfortable. It is also important, because this selectivity has an influence on the composition of the remaining jury. One factor that matters for this comfort is risk tolerance. So what do we know of those who are more willing to take this bet?
A group at Clemson University has an answer in the form of a study recently published in PLOS ONE, the open access journal (Bryne et al., 2021). Conducted last spring, the study looked at individual differences in decision-making about the pandemic, including mask wearing and social distancing. By conducting a correlational experiment with 400 participants, they found that three factors explained the majority (55%) of the variation in these behaviors, and interestingly, none of these factors was health, demographics or even political orientation. The three factors ended up being:
- Risk decision-making behavior: the profile of the player who prefers a high risk / greater benefit scenario;
- Temporal discount: prefer immediate rewards over distant (and potentially larger) rewards; and
- Perception of risk: Seeing risk as lower when it seems to be under their control or when it is related to something pleasant.
In this article, I’ll share what we know about the risk profile, as well as the general profile that separates the “COVID player” from other members of your jury.
The General Profile of a COVID-Minimizer
Citing previous research, the research article provides a useful list of elements on the general profile of those less concerned about COVID-19 and situations, like jury duty in and near, that present a risk of exposure. The general characteristics are:
- No direct experience with the virus
- Low on prosocial values (community, sacrifice, etc.)
- Low knowledge of the virus
- Low fear of virus
- Low confidence in medical recommendations
- Belief in the subjectivity of science
- Conservative or libertarian political ideology
- Weak trait of “conscience”
The Risk tolerance Profile of a COVID-Minimizer
In addition to this list, the researchers focused on attitudes and behaviors in the face of risk. Specifically, they used regression analysis to show that more The variability in masking and distancing behaviors is explained by factors of risky behaviors and perceptions, as well as a preference for immediate rewards over long-distance rewards. It is easy to see how risk opinions might play a role in the assessment of legal cases. Those who favor higher risk and higher reward might also tend to excuse or normalize risk-taking by a litigant. Those who focus on immediate gratification rather than delayed gratification might also prefer instant printing rather than one that builds over time.
One implication is that attitudes towards COVID risk are now something that should be measured every time in jury selection, in the context of your own place and case. National trends are useful, but ultimately the trends that matter will be those of your own future. The role of increased risk tolerance should be assessed and explored in the context of your own case. So, rather than taking a bet with your panel, it makes sense to ask your judge to authorize a preliminary jury questionnaire.
Byrne, KA, Six, SG, Anaraky, RG, Harris, MW and Winterlind, EL (2021). Exposed risk-taking: using a risky choice and a time update to explain the preventive behaviors of COVID-19. PloS a, 16(5), e0251073. URL: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0251073