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Of Justice and hunger

Research evidence has revealed that how lenient a judge might be is related to how close s/he is to a meal break! A hungry judge is an angry judge – you might think, and you’d be on the right track.

Recidivism amongst offenders also predicted outcomes. However, even after controlling for that factor, the effect of meal times remained strong.

As I’ve said before – and some have been blind to or missed entirely – it is what is below our level of conscious awareness that we need pay most attention to. I don’t think that any of the judges who were subject in the study would admit that because they were hungry and tired, they were more likely to rule in a certain direction.

The reason I can think that, is that they would be admitting to a bias of some kind, due to a very human reason. However, I think there is something else. I don’t think they were aware of how their cognitive skills were being eroded by imperceptible effects of tiredness and hunger. Read all about it (or not): The Economist: 2011-08-14

All – ok ‘most’ or ‘some’ (for pedants) – of us like to think quite proudly that we are immune to matters that spring from the demands of flesh and blood. I call that an arrogant position.

I occasionally work amongst some who take control and occasionally push us through the lunch time ‘barrier’. I’ve always compensated in my decision-making, in those times, by slowing everything down, and taking time to refresh myself.  I’d nip to the toilet, to kitchen to munch on something, for a drink of water, or skip off for even 30 seconds of fresh air (well a bit more). I nearly always carry snacks of some kind.

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