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Tuesday, 12 April 2011

when do you make decisions?

vertical axis ='s proportion of cases where judges granted parole. 
horizontal axis ='s the order in which cases were heard during the day. 
dotted lines ='s points where the judges went away for a morning snack and their lunch break. 
source of picture and original article is a post on not rocket science blog on the work of Shai Denzeger from ben gurion university of the negev - below is text from the article which i think provides a summary
the odds of successful parole start around 65% then quickly plummet to 0.  after the judges have returned from their breaks, the odds abruptly climb back up to 65%, before resuming their downward slide. 
so it seems that judges, even experienced ones, are vulnerable to the same psychological biases as everyone else. they can deliver different rulings in similar cases, under the influence of something as trivial as a food break, or after repetitive decision making , or after a period without rest. their training, their experience, and the weighty nature of their decisions do not insulate them from the sort of problems that plague our everyday mental abilities (and indeed, this isn’t the first study to demonstrate this).

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