Monday, May 9, 2011

Gut Feelings About Justice and Rational Decision-Making

A team of researchers has found that judges are much more likely to grant parole first thing in the morning, and right after lunch/snack break. In fact, the probability that a prisoner will get parole is approximately 65% at the start of a morning or afternoon session - and approximately zero at the end of the session (morning or afternoon).

In fact, these dynamics probably apply to a host of decision-making settings.

That's one more brick in the wall of proof, if proof be needed, that decisions often get made on the basis of non-rational or even irrational factors. After all, what does the exact timing of the hearing have to do with whether or not the prisoner deserves parole?

What's more, this is yet another reason why it's important to get people to like you, no matter what your objective merits are. For example, court clerks often decide which cases get heard when...and they've probably long since noticed how it influences the actual decisions.

H/T: News of the Weird's syndicated newspaper column. IMHO, in this day and age reading paper newspapers may be "weirder" than the above decision-making patterns.

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