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Mood and the Malleability of Moral Reasoning

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  • Chen, Daniel L.

Abstract

I detect intra-judge variation in judicial decisions driven by factors completely unrelated 5 to the merits of the case, or to any case characteristic for that matter. Concretely, I show that asylum 6 grant rates in U.S. immigration courts differ by the success of the court city’s NFL team on the night 7 before, and by the city’s weather on the day of, the decision. My data including half a million decisions 8 spanning two decades allows me to exclude confounding factors, such as scheduling and seasonal effects. 9 Most importantly, my design holds the identity of the judge constant. On average, U.S. immigration 10 judges grant an additional 1.5% of asylum petitions on the day after their city’s NFL team won, relative 11 to days after the team lost. Bad weather on the day of the decision has approximately the opposite effect. 12 By way of comparison, the average grant rate is 39%. In contrast, I do not find comparable effects in 13 sentencing decisions of U.S. District Courts, and speculate that this may be due to higher quality of the 14 federal judges, more time for deliberation, or the constraining effect of the federal sentencing guidelines.

Suggested Citation

  • Chen, Daniel L., 2016. "Mood and the Malleability of Moral Reasoning," TSE Working Papers 16-707, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Feb 2017.
  • Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:31031
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Chen, Daniel L., 2016. "Priming Ideology: Why Presidential Elections Affect U.S. Judges," TSE Working Papers 16-681, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Aug 2016.
    2. Loewenstein, George & Ubel, Peter A., 2008. "Hedonic adaptation and the role of decision and experience utility in public policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1795-1810, August.
    3. Chen, Daniel L. & Prescott, J.J., 2016. "Implicit Egoism in Sentencing Decisions: First Letter Name Effects with Randomly Assigned Defendants," TSE Working Papers 16-726, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    4. Samuel M. Hartzmark & David H. Solomon, 2012. "Efficiency and the Disposition Effect in NFL Prediction Markets," Quarterly Journal of Finance (QJF), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 2(03), pages 1-42.
    5. A. Colin Cameron & Jonah B. Gelbach & Douglas L. Miller, 2011. "Robust Inference With Multiway Clustering," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(2), pages 238-249, April.
    6. Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2001. "Psychological Expected Utility Theory and Anticipatory Feelings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 55-79.
    7. Jeff Strnad, 2007. "Should Legal Empiricists Go Bayesian?," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 195-303.
    8. David Card & Gordon B. Dahl, 2011. "Family Violence and Football: The Effect of Unexpected Emotional Cues on Violent Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(1), pages 103-143.
    9. Uri Simonsohn, 2010. "Weather To Go To College," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(543), pages 270-280, March.
    10. Ozkan Eren & Naci Mocan, 2016. "Emotional Judges and Unlucky Juveniles," NBER Working Papers 22611, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Chen, Daniel L. & Moskowitz, Tobias J. & Shue, Kelly, 2016. "Decision-Making Under the Gambler’s Fallacy: Evidence From Asylum Courts, Loan Officers, and Baseball Umpires," IAST Working Papers 16-43, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    12. Marie Connolly, 2013. "Some Like It Mild and Not Too Wet: The Influence of Weather on Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 457-473, April.
    13. repec:ucp:jlawec:doi:10.1086/696237 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Alex Edmans & Diego García & Øyvind Norli, 2007. "Sports Sentiment and Stock Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(4), pages 1967-1998, August.
    15. Daniel L. Chen & Tobias J. Moskowitz & Kelly Shue, 2016. "Decision Making Under the Gambler’s Fallacy: Evidence from Asylum Judges, Loan Officers, and Baseball Umpires," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(3), pages 1181-1242.
    16. Carlos Berdejó & Daniel L. Chen, 2017. "Electoral Cycles among US Courts of Appeals Judges," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(3), pages 479-496.
    17. Ozkan Eren & Naci Mocan, 2016. "Emotional Judges and Unlucky Juveniles," Working Papers id:11299, eSocialSciences.
    18. Alberto Abadie & Guido W. Imbens, 2006. "Large Sample Properties of Matching Estimators for Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(1), pages 235-267, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Daniel L., 2018. "Judicial Analytics and the Great Transformation of American Law," TSE Working Papers 18-974, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    2. Chen, Daniel L., 2018. "Judicial Analytics and the Great Transformation of American Law," IAST Working Papers 18-87, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    3. Chen, Daniel L. & Dunn, Matt & Sagun, Levent & Sirin, Hale, 2017. "Early Predictability of Asylum Court Decisions," TSE Working Papers 17-781, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).

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