“Likability” Relates to Credibility
The “likability” of an expert witness is important. “Psychology Today” reports that forensic specialists have studied how likability impacts a juror’s perceptions.
Research suggests that jurors who perceive an expert witness as pleasant, (i.e. friendly, respectful, well-mannered) are more inclined to find him or her credible and trustworthy.
It is one thing for an attorney to work with an intelligent expert witness who is unbiased, fact driven, and prepared. However, those qualities are not enough. Expert witnesses must convey their opinions to a lay person, and “likability” is an important element relating to their credibility. Attorneys and trial consultants have an empirical foundation for addressing credibility that they access to prepare an expert for testimony.
• Using “we” or “us” when referring to the scientific community or humanity as a whole
• Occasionally smiling
• Modest statements (i.e. “relatively certain” or “we do not know everything there is to know in the field of psychiatry or psychology”)
• Being prepared in Court
• Consistent eye contact with the questioning lawyer and jury
• Informal speech
• Modesty in self-representation
• Referring to parties in courtroom by surname
• Saying “I,” “me,” or “my” when discussing findings/literature/best-practices
• Frowning or appearing sullen throughout the testimony
• Conclusory statements (i.e. “… is definitely the case” or “I am absolutely sure”)
• Flipping through notes on the stand and lacking preparedness
• No eye contact or looking down
• Highly technical jargon that nobody understands
• Overconfidence or grandiosity
• Frequent formal references to parties in court (i.e. “the client” or “the defendant”)
If you’ve worked with an expert you perceive to have a high, or low, likability level when testifying in front of a jury, please write a review on Courtroom Insight. It is free, easy, and takes only 3 minutes to recommend an expert witness to your peers!
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