IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/tse/wpaper/31133.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Implicit Egoism in Sentencing Decisions: First Letter Name Effects with Randomly Assigned Defendants

Author

Listed:
  • Chen, Daniel L.
  • Prescott, J.J.

Abstract

Implicit egotism—in particular, positive unconscious associations that individuals have with others who share their names or first initials—is a mainstay of modern psychology textbooks, but the interpretation of prior field studies has recently come under criticism for lack of adequate control, reverse causality, and ethnic heterogeneity. Using unique data from the New Orleans District Attorney’s Office on 48,988 defendants that were randomly assigned to judges from 1988-1999, we identify the causal effect of matching first initials. In contrast to positive affect, we find that judges assign 8% longer sentences on average (about two-three months) when they match on first initials. The effect is robust to controls and removal of outliers. No effect is found for second-letter matches, last-letter matches, or randomly reassigned names. The effects are somewhat larger for defendants categorized as Negroes by the New Orleans District Attorney’s Office, which could be due to sampling variation or due to behavioral biases playing a stronger role in evaluations when decision makers are nearly indifferent. The effects are also somewhat larger for judges categorized as Whites. The negative effect of sharing first initials explains 0.03% of variation. Finally, we interpret the negative behavioral effect as threatened egotism, in which individuals motivated to manage self-image (implicit egoism) create social distance from negatively- valenced targets perceived to be associated with the self.

Suggested Citation

  • 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).
  • Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:31133
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://nber.org/~dlchen/papers/Implicit_Egoism_in_Sentencing_Decisions.pdf
    File Function: Full text
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. M. Marit Rehavi & Sonja B. Starr, 2014. "Racial Disparity in Federal Criminal Sentences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 122(6), pages 1320-1354.
    2. 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.
    3. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2011. "Identity, Morals, and Taboos: Beliefs as Assets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 805-855.
    4. Anderson, James M & Kling, Jeffrey R & Stith, Kate, 1999. "Measuring Interjedge Sentencing Disparity: Before and After the Federal Sentencing Guidelines," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(1), pages 271-307, April.
    5. Pedro Bordalo & Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2013. "Salience and Consumer Choice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(5), pages 803-843.
    6. Saunders, Edward M, Jr, 1993. "Stock Prices and Wall Street Weather," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1337-1345, December.
    7. repec:wly:amposc:v:54:y:2010:i:2:p:389-411 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Pedro Bordalo & Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2012. "Salience Theory of Choice Under Risk," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(3), pages 1243-1285.
    9. Pedro Bordalo & Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2013. "Salience and Asset Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 623-628, May.
    10. David S. Abrams & Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2012. "Do Judges Vary in Their Treatment of Race?," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(2), pages 347-383.
    11. Payne, A. Abigail, 1997. "Does inter-judge disparity really matter? An analysis of the effects of sentencing reforms in three federal district courts," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 337-366, September.
    12. 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.
    13. Chen, Daniel L. & Halberstam, Yosh & Yu, Alan, 2016. "Covering: Mutable Characteristics and Perceptions of (Masculine) Voice in the U.S. Supreme Court," IAST Working Papers 16-38, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST), revised Aug 2016.
    14. Chen, Daniel L. & Halberstam, Yosh & Yu, Alan, 2016. "Perceived Masculinity Predicts U.S. Supreme Court Outcomes," TSE Working Papers 16-682, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    15. Pedro Bordalo & Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2012. "Salience in Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(3), pages 47-52, May.
    16. Max Schanzenbach, 2005. "Racial and Sex Disparities in Prison Sentences: The Effect of District-Level Judicial Demographics," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 57-92, January.
    17. Pedro Bordalo & Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2015. "Salience Theory of Judicial Decisions," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(S1), pages 7-33.
    18. Uri Simonsohn, 2010. "Weather To Go To College," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(543), pages 270-280, March.
    19. Birte Englich & Kirsten Soder, 2009. "Moody experts --- How mood and expertise influence judgmental anchoring," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 4(1), pages 41-50, February.
    20. Ozkan Eren & Naci Mocan, 2016. "Emotional Judges and Unlucky Juveniles," NBER Working Papers 22611, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. 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).
    22. repec:ucp:jlawec:doi:10.1086/696237 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. 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.
    24. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
    25. Jesse Chandler & Tiffany M. Griffin & Nicholas Sorensen, 2008. "In the "I" of the storm: Shared initials increase disaster donations," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 3, pages 404-410, June.
    26. 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.
    27. 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.
    28. Ozkan Eren & Naci Mocan, 2016. "Emotional Judges and Unlucky Juveniles," Working Papers id:11299, eSocialSciences.
    29. Moses Shayo & Asaf Zussman, 2011. "Judicial Ingroup Bias in the Shadow of Terrorism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(3), pages 1447-1484.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    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. Chen, Daniel L. & Yeh, Susan, 2016. "Government Expropriation Increases Economic Growth and Racial Inequality: Evidence from Eminent Domain," TSE Working Papers 16-693, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    3. Chen, Daniel L. & Sethi, Jasmin, 2016. "Insiders, Outsiders, and Involuntary Unemployment: Sexual Harrassment Exacerbates Gender Inequality," TSE Working Papers 16-687, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    4. Chen, Daniel L., 2016. "Sclerotization of the Judiciary: Judicial Exits from the U.S. Courts of Appeals are Politically Motivated," TSE Working Papers 16-721, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Feb 2017.
    5. 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.
    6. Chen, Daniel L., 2016. "This Morning's Breakfast, Last Night's Game: Detecting Extraneous Factors in Judging," IAST Working Papers 16-49, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    7. Chen, Daniel L., 2016. "Mood and the Malleability of Moral Reasoning," TSE Working Papers 16-707, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Feb 2017.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:31133. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/tsetofr.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.