Putting TRAC to Work
  Legal and Scholarly
University of Toulouse 1 - Toulouse School of Economics Institute for Advanced Studies/Harvard Law School LWP; Harvard Law School
February 2017

Mood and the Malleability of Moral Reasoning
By Daniel Chen

Abstract Emotions are said to underlie moral decision-making. I detect intra-judge variation in 1.5 million judicial decisions driven by factors unrelated to case merits. U.S. immigration judges grant an additional 1.4% of asylum petitions–and U.S. district judges assign 0.6% fewer prison sentences and 5% longer probation sentences—on the day after their city’s NFL team won, relative to days after the team lost. Bad weather has the opposite effect of a team win. Notably, the effects of NFL games on asylum decisions are driven entirely by unrepresented parties, suggesting that game outcomes affect judge decision-making as opposed to lawyer behavior. This work was done while I was a TRAC Fellow of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, which provided the sentencing data used in this paper, as well as a separate copy of the asylum court data.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2017
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