“Research suggests that story archetypes – encoded in powerful, culturally pervasive myths – may play a crucial role in how people process new information. In their studies of jury verdicts, for instance, psychologists Nancy Pennington and Reid Hastie found that jurors made decisions, in part, by fitting the evidence into previously defined narrative structures.
The persuasive power of these structures has led Rutgers law professor Ruth Anne Robbins to argue that attorneys should represent their clients as “archetypal heroes” (her example of choice is from another modern myth, Harry Potter). Heroes are more likely to be perceived sympathetically, while villains – Dr Frankenstein and Dr Steptoe alike – will be perceived as criminals, independent of the evidence.”
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