Having the best voir dire questions goes a long way to ensuring higher verdicts.
Billy Beane turned the business world upside down with his use of data and analytics. From Major League Baseball, the Moneyball revolution spread across all professional sports and into totally unrelated industries. Now even law firms are getting into the data game.
Our technology-driven process includes applications, infrastructure, and best practices that enable optimal decisions for analyzing data. From this analysis, we present actionable information to help lawyers, consultants, and other trial team members make informed business decisions.
Text Analysis for Personality Profiling
In today’s technological world there is a proliferation of information. The smartphone revolution makes it inescapable. Twitter, Facebook, Netflix, Reddit, Hulu, Instagram, Amazon, Google… it’s hard to synthesize it all. It’s no surprise, therefore, that people are suffering from “Information overload.”
According to Bertram Gross, the term’s inventor, “Information overload occurs when the amount of input to a system exceeds its processing capacity. Decision-makers have fairly limited cognitive processing capacity. Consequently, when information overload occurs, it is likely that a reduction in decision quality will occur.”
It is a testament to Dr. Gross’s prophetic wisdom that he coined the expression back in 1964. Imagine if he could see the streaming wars today! (Fun fact: David Jonathan Gross, Bertram’s son, was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics.)
We included the last detail about Bertram’s son because it perfectly encapsulates the Google-it, 24/7 information overload moment in time and space that we are all currently occupying together. You didn’t need to know about Bertram’s brainy son, but now you know, and when the question comes up during your next trivia night, you’ll thank us.
To gain the most accurate and high-quality information from the available data, new methodologies have been developed to obtain, process and apply the data. An emerging methodology to maximize information and processing efficiency is an automated analysis of language, or text analysis. (1-4)
What is text analysis?
Text analysis uses computer language algorithms to extract psychological features of what we say. Written text is processed through a text analysis program that uses data dictionaries to code the valence (positivity / negativity) and intensity of the text.
Data dictionaries are a bank of words associated with a particular theme, for example, words that define “self-reflection.” Analyzing the content of language and the meaning behind human communication can uncover implicit processes or aspects of our thinking styles and personalities that are unknown to us or intentionally or unintentionally hidden. (4)
Like HAL 9000 from the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey, text analysis sees right through us. Only this time HAL 9000 hasn’t gone rogue and is working for the good guys. Let us geek out on the data yielded from our text analysis process and provide a cutting edge that you can leverage in court.
What can it tell me?
What we say and how we say it reflects our personalities, social processes, mental health, motivations, preoccupations, and emotional states. (4) Our language can reveal how we think, feel, and likely will behave.
Through our text analysis coding process, we can determine whether a person is being genuine and whether they are in a stable mental state. For example, research suggests using words such as “win,” “success,” and “goal,” reflect striving for achievement. (5) The personality trait Narcissism can be detected not by the overuse of first-person pronouns (e.g., I, me, mine), but by sports-related words, second-person pronouns (e.g., you, yours), and profanity. (6) Is it just us or does this sound a lot like a certain United States President?
As experimental psychologist Steven Pinker underscores in his book The Stuff of Thoughts, “Language is not just a window into human nature but a fistula: an open wound through which our innards are exposed to an infectious world. It’s not surprising that we expect people to sheathe their words in politeness and innuendo and other forms of doublespeak.”
How can I use text analysis in my case?
Did you miss the first post in our series on the importance of psychographics in trial law? Click here to catch up. We also just released the first episode of season three of our GET IN THE GAME podcast series with noted trial attorney Brian Panish. Click here to listen to the 2020 Plaintiff Trends to Watch according to Coach.
- Boyd, R. L. (2017). Psychological text analysis in the digital humanities. In S. Hai-Jew (Ed.), Data analytics in digital humanities (pp. 161-189). New York, NY: Springer.
- Boyd, R., & Kapoor, P. (2019). Psychological profiling and event forecasting using computational language analysis. CREST Security Review, (9), 6-7.
- Boyd, R. L., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2017). Language-based personality: A new approach to personality in the digital world. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 18, 63-68.
- Holtzman, N. S., Tackman, A. M., Carey, A. L., Brucks, M. S., Albrecht, C. P. K., große Deters, F. G., Back, M. D., Donnellan, M. B., Pennebaker, J. W., Sherman, R. A., & Mehl, M. R. (2018). Linguistic markers of narcissism: An exploratory LIWC analysis of 15 samples. Online publication retrieved from https://psyarxiv.com/yvna6/download?format=pdf
- Lasswell, H. D., Lerner, D., & De Sola Pool I. (1952). The comparative study of symbols: An introduction. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.
- Tausczik, Y. R., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2010). The psychological meaning of words: LIWC and computerized text analysis methods. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 29(1), 24-54.