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Someone asked a really similar question in the 11:00 lecture today... I believe the answer was that trans is more stable in most cases, but depending on the size and number of the substituents, this isn't always the case. I think the best option is to picture the alignment of the molecule and try and find the arrangement that minimizes steric interaction between the substituents.
trans would probably always be more stable because say you have something like a br coming off of carbon 1, then making the isomer trans would allow for the br to be in an equatorial position and have less steric strain
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