The Sciences

Sleep-deprived judges give out harsher sentences.

Seriously, Science?By Seriously ScienceFeb 15, 2017 11:00 AM

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Photo: flickr/Joe GratzAdd this to the long list of reasons why daylight savings time should be abolished: according to this study, it could cause judges to dole out harsher sentences. More specifically, these researchers found that sleep-deprived judges (in this case, due to the shift to daylight savings time in the spring) gave out 5% longer sentences compared with well-rested judges. So there you have it: just as we hope justice is blind, we should also hope it got enough sleep last night.Sleepy Punishers Are Harsh Punishers. "The degree of punishment assigned to criminals is of pivotal importance for the maintenance of social order and cooperation. Nonetheless, the amount of punishment assigned to transgressors can be affected by factors other than the content of the transgressions. We propose that sleep deprivation in judges increases the severity of their sentences. We took advantage of the natural quasi-manipulation of sleep deprivation during the shift to daylight saving time in the spring and analyzed archival data from judicial punishment handed out in the U.S. federal courts. The results supported our hypothesis: Judges doled out longer sentences when they were sleep deprived." Related content: World’s worst job: latrine odor judge.How does listening to the sound of vomiting affect moral judgements?The look of a convict’s face could determine whether he gets the death penalty.

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