Dr. Noelle Nelson

What the Trix Cereal Rabbit Can Teach Litigators

So you thought cutesy cereal boxes were designed just to capture your innocent toddler’s rapt attention? Nope. In a Cornell University study, researchers manipulated the gaze of the cartoon rabbit on Trix cereal boxes and found that adult subjects were more likely to choose Trix over competing brands if the rabbit was looking at them rather than away: “Making eye contact even with a character on a cereal box inspires powerful feelings of connection.”

But there’s more: according to research conducted at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, when doctors make more eye contact with their patients, those patients enjoy better health, comply with medical advice more often, and are more likely to seek treatment for future problems. In other words, these patients listen to and follow the advice of their doctors. Precisely what you need your jurors to do.

Eye contact engages us. Eye contact facilitates communication. Eye contact influences others. Eye contact is persuasive.

When you are conducting voir dire, make eye contact as often as possible, especially when listening to a response, or asking a question. If you need to glance at your notes, do so after a response, before your next question.

Throughout the trial, take advantage of the persuasive power of eye contact to look at jurors whenever you are making an important point. Encourage your witnesses to look out at the jurors, especially during direct.

Marketers have billions on the line; where the rabbit looks is of vital importance. You have just as much at stake, if not more, every time you walk into the courtroom.

What the Trix Cereal Rabbit Can Teach Litigators

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