Cal. Litig. 2022, Volume 35, Number 1

Persuasion Science for Trial Lawyers

By John P. Blumberg

Review by Stefan Caris Love

One thing about popular psychology is that it sells. Blink and Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell; How We Decide and Imagine, by Jonah Lehrer; The Happiness Hypothesis, by Jonathan Haidt; Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman; you’ve maybe read and certainly heard of some of these blockbuster examples of the genre.

John P. Blumberg’s Persuasion Science for Trial Lawyers (2022) adopts this genre’s central conceit — that psychological studies establish broader truths about human behavior — and applies it to the practical problems of persuasion faced by trial lawyers. Blumberg positions his book as an antidote to advice on persuasion that is grounded only in anecdotal experience. In keeping with the pop psych genre, his advice is presented as a corrective to our sometimes faulty intuitions: "We all like to believe that the decisions we make are the result of logic, common sense, and critical thinking," he writes, but the research tells us we’re wrong. (Id. at p. xxi.)

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