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Cognitive psychologists have identified a phenomenon they call the negativity bias in which humans seem to remember and be affected by negative information more strongly than by positive information What are the implications of this bias for legal writers Should they focus on negative themes describing the opposing side as bad instead of positive ones describing their clients as good and worthy More specifically do trial judges fall prey to the negativity biasThis article describes an empirical test in which 163 judges were asked to read different versions of a Preliminary Statement to a trial brief some using positive themes others using negative ones to measure whether and by how much the judges perceptions of the parties were affected The study concludes that in many but not all cases negative themes did seem to have more impact on the judicial reader

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