April 13, 2011
Tired Judges More Likely To Decide For More Jail Time

Fresh minds are more forgiving. (thanks Valentin)

The research, which examined judicial rulings by Israeli judges who presided over parole hearings in criminal cases, found that judges gave more lenient decisions at the start of the day and immediately after a scheduled break in court proceedings such as lunch. Jonathan Levav, associate professor of business at Columbia University, who co-authored the paper, said: "You are anywhere between two and six times as likely to be released if you're one of the first three prisoners considered versus the last three prisoners considered."

We are influenced in our cognition by many forces without our awareness. Do we have free will? Are our decisions really based on conscious deliberation? Lots of lines of evidence argue that we are puppets to the time of day, our level of restedness, what we eat, noises, visuals, smells, and other influences.

I'm intrigued by the idea of creating environments that will allow us to manipulate ourselves with suites of influences calculated to encourage us to achieve our goals.

Here's the full PNAS paper.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 April 13 11:15 PM  Brain Free Will

Ken Hirsch said at April 14, 2011 9:03 AM:

There's a blog post with graphs here. Wow. I wouldn't have been at all surprised to see a small, but statistically-significant effect, or even a modest effect, but this is such an overwhelming large effect, it's disturbing.

jamie b. said at April 14, 2011 1:09 PM:

I assume that the title is supposed to read "...likely to...".

Randall Parker said at April 14, 2011 5:22 PM:

jamie b,

Tired bloggers are more likely to make typing mistakes. I think most of my posts are written during a race to finish up the day before sleep.

Peter said at April 14, 2011 9:52 PM:

If it is true that there is no free will, then our ability to reason is illusory.

Randall Parker said at April 15, 2011 2:47 PM:


You had no choice, you had to say that. I had to respond. The next sentence I type is compelled by the big galactic machine.

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