Stealing thunder as a courtroom tactic revisited

Processes and boundaries

Lara Dolnik, Trevor I. Case, Kipling D. Williams*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    36 Citations (Scopus)


    Stealing thunder refers to a dissuasion tactic in which an individual reveals potentially incriminating evidence first, for the purpose of reducing its negative impact on an evaluative audience. We examined whether it was necessary to frame the negative revelation in a manner that downplayed its importance, and found that stealing thunder successfully dissuaded mock jurors even without framing. We also sought to determine the mechanism by which stealing thunder operated, and found that stealing thunder led mock jurors to change the meaning of incriminating evidence to be less damaging to the individual. We also found that stealing thunder's effectiveness did not hinge on whether or not opposing counsel also mentioned the thunder evidence, and that the stealing thunder tactic was no longer effective when opposing counsel revealed to the mock jurors that the stealing thunder tactic had been used on them.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)267-287
    Number of pages21
    JournalLaw and Human Behavior
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2003

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