Oregon Law Review : Vol. 89, No. 1, p. 305-350 : The Power of Priming in Legal Advocacy: Using the Science of First Impressions to Persuade the Reader
Stanchi, Kathryn M.
The contribution of this Article is the synthesis of legal advocacy and the psychological studies of priming. It shows advocates how priming can help them make better strategic decisions in their briefs and gives specific examples of different ways to use priming in persuasive writing. Part I defines the basic concept of priming and gives examples of different ways that priming works. Part II begins the application of the priming studies to law. The focus of Part II is on priming the reader’s emotional response through theme and story. It also examines how emotions can impact decision making in unexpected ways. Part III moves from emotional priming to semantic priming. It examines how to influence the decision maker’s view of the case by using particular vocabulary and description in key, strategic places in the brief. Finally, Part IV focuses on the risks of priming, as well as the limitations of the priming studies as applied to law.