Online Dial Testing Winning Over Jury Research Consultant and Her Clients

Dr. Katherine Vinson is a social psychologist with a specialty in juror behavior and more than a decade of litigation experience. For years, in-person dial testing has been a mainstay of her’s and her firm, Vinson & Company‘s, research approach. In 2020, with the pandemic bringing a sudden halt to in-person research, Dr. Vinson and Vinson & Company needed to quickly pivot to find online alternatives to keep their research moving forward.

Vinson & Company partnered with Dialsmith to migrate their research fully online. Their approach included integrating online dial testing with follow-up virtual deliberation groups. Both Dr. Vinson and her clients have been equally impressed with the quality and richness of the results they’ve gotten from their online groups.

Dr. Katherine Vinson, Senior Litigation Consultant with Vinson & Company


Vinson & Company are widely considered the “founding fathers” of trial research. The firm has been doing litigation consulting work for more than 35 years. Safe to say, they do what they do—mock juries with dial testing—and they do it really well. But 2020, like for many businesses, brought abrupt change. Suddenly, the in-person methods that the firm had refined and perfected over the past three decades had to fundamentally change in order to keep research moving forward. At the same time, client expectations didn’t change.

As Dr. Vinson notes, “Many of our clients are repeat clients, and they’re used to seeing the moment-to-moment when we do in-person research. So, when we do this research online, they expect the moment-to-moment results to be there. If they’re not, it’s a problem.”

Vinson & Company relied on Dialsmith to recruit the online respondents and vet them with tech checks so they’re ready to go when they enter the session. After a brief intro, respondents are given a block of time to do online dial testing sessions where they’ll evaluate recorded opening statements, witness testimony, and closing statements. Respondents typically rate the videos on a 0 to 100 scale on how helpful or not helpful the information is. Respondents are also asked survey questions between the videos as well as after they’ve viewed the testimony and statements.

Dr. Vinson is able to review results from the online dial tests and survey questions with her clients during the session break and use that information to determine the makeup of the breakout deliberation groups for the afternoon sessions. Results are also analyzed to develop juror profiles and understand which types of jurors will be helpful to the client and which will not.


We can see the lines for the plaintiff jurors and the lines for the defense jurors. We can then go back and look at each of those videos and see where the spikes and drops are to find out what specific arguments were helpful for the plaintiff… It’s all right there in the lines.

After the session is completed, Dr. Vinson reviews the moment-to-moment results focused on data splits based on final verdict. “We can see the lines for the plaintiff jurors and the lines for the defense jurors. We can then go back and look at each of those videos and see where the spikes and drops are to find out what specific arguments were helpful for the plaintiff. What resonated with plaintiff jurors? What did defense jurors like, what the defense jurors didn’t like. It’s all right there in the lines.”

Prior to her first online study, Dr. Vinson had concerns about the level of engagement and participation by the respondents in comparison to her in-person sessions. But she’s been pleasantly surprised.

“My biggest fear doing (online) was you’re giving us people, sitting behind a computer screen, watching videos, and then you’re expecting them to participate in terms of grading the video and answering questions and deliberating. When you’re doing it in person, you could see who’s not paying attention; you can chat with them and you can remind them that they do need to pay attention. But the level of participation online was a lot higher than I anticipated.”

Vinson & Company’s clients had high expectations going into the online studies, but some hesitations as well. They’ve been won over by their results. Dr. Vinson added, “Our clients have been very pleased… very happy. Going into the project, they had no idea what to expect, but seeing it and being able to participate in it… they’ve been pleasantly surprised.”

Go deeper on using dial testing for litigation research by viewing/downloading our Guide to Dial Testing for Mock Juries and Trial Research.

To learn more about Dialsmith’s online dial testing tools and services, please contact us or visit here.