By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
I've been accused before of being in love with metaphors. From my debating days in school to my current authorship of this blog, I often find myself thinking, interpreting, explaining, and arguing through the use of parallel situations and analogies. It's my bread and butter, you could say (sorry, couldn't resist). Given that much of the social science research that I review in Persuasive Litigator is not written directly for a trial advocacy context, the act of understanding and applying the information to what a litigator finds useful is itself a metaphoric act. Heck, even the top banner image for the post is generally a metaphor for what I'm writing about. Drawing those connections seems pretty natural at this point (if it's good for nothing else, a twice-weekly blog is a great recipe for practicing analytical and creative thinking).
But, as much as I prefer and rely on metaphors, I understand that it's a romance that isn't shared by everyone. Some like to be more literally-minded. Even among lawyers who go to trial, there are a fair number who vastly prefer the simple description over the metaphor. I even witnessed one consultant tell his clients, "Don't use metaphors: They are too confusing to jurors and too easily turned around by counsel." I think that is bad advice, that is probably impossible to follow as well. And it isn't just my metaphor-love that makes me say that, it is the research: Metaphor plays a deep and likely an indispensable role in human understanding. At the same time, not everyone uses metaphors equally. Based on some intriguing new research (Fetterman et al., 2015), some people are metaphorically-minded and others aren't. That's now a difference that can be confirmed in the social science lab, and it carries some pretty big implications to how we understand and communicate. In this post, I will take a look at the study and draw some implications, metaphorically of course, for how this matters to trial persuasion.