Snap Judgments of Categorization


Snap Judgments of Categorization 

I have been discussing Daniel Kahneman's model for how the mind works and how it applies to juror decision making. Dr. Kahneman posits two cognitive systems, one fast, and the other slow. System 1 is largely unconscious process and it makes snap judgments based upon our experiences and associated emotions. System 2 is often excruciatingly slow, and is the process by which we consciously try to solve problems.


One of the "heuristics" or shortcuts of mind processing involves sorting information into categories.


Below, which doesn't fit with the others?



Birds and Cat

How you answered reflects the heuristic/shortcut your mind uses to sort the information.


Many people will say the "cat" because the other pictures are "birds."

Other people may say "cartoon drawing" because the three other pictures are photographs.


Perhaps you noticed your initial "snap judgment" (System 1) and then started to rethink your judgment (System 2).


In general, the mind does not want to work hard unless it has to do so.


In your lawsuit, what will jurors respond to intuitively, and what do you need the jurors to actually effort to compute?  


Will your claim or theme for advocating in the case "fit their pictures" for what you have defined?


When you describe words like "negligence," "contract agreement," "informed," "caused," or "reasonable" do they have some shared categorization of meaning?


Research confirms that (and we should not be surprised) that jurors often categorize and cement their judgments about a case using System 1 during opening statement. They get the "feel" of the case and decide. It is difficult to convince them using System 2 to "think hard about the facts" and change their minds later on.


Legal cases are moral conundrums first, and factual battles second; jurors are looking for some way to easily categorize "right dealing" from "wrong dealing."


As an attorney, it is important to understand the difference. If you find yourself saying to a colleague or spouse who reacts badly to your case, "Oh, I understand your reaction, but if you heard all of the facts you would feel differently," watch out-you're probably in trouble and in denial.