Perceived Masculinity Predicts U.S. Supreme Court Outcomes

PLoS-ONE, 11(10), e0164324, 2016P

20 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2016 Last revised: 20 Apr 2020

See all articles by Daniel L. Chen

Daniel L. Chen

Directeur de Recherche, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Toulouse School of Economics, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, University of Toulouse Capitole, Toulouse, France

Yosh Halberstam

University of Toronto

Alan Yu

University of Chicago

Date Written: June 22, 2016

Abstract

Previous studies suggest a significant role of language in the court room, yet none has identified a definitive correlation between vocal characteristics and court outcomes. This paper demonstrates that voice-based snap judgments based solely on the introductory sentences of lawyers arguing in front of the Supreme Court of the United States predict outcomes in the Court. In this study, participants rated the opening statement of male advocates arguing before the Supreme Court between 1998 and 2012 in terms of masculinity, attractiveness, confidence, intelligence, trustworthiness, and aggressiveness. We found significant correlation between vocal characteristics and court outcomes and the correlation is specific to perceived masculinity even when judgment of masculinity is based only on less than three seconds of exposure to a lawyer’s speech sample. Specifically, male advocates are more likely to win when they are perceived as less masculine. No other personality dimension predicts court outcomes. While this study does not aim to establish any causal connections, our findings suggest that vocal characteristics may be relevant in even as solemn a setting as the Supreme Court of the United States.

Suggested Citation

Chen, Daniel L. and Halberstam, Yosh and Yu, Alan, Perceived Masculinity Predicts U.S. Supreme Court Outcomes (June 22, 2016). PLoS-ONE, 11(10), e0164324, 2016P, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2816252 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2816252

Daniel L. Chen (Contact Author)

Directeur de Recherche, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Toulouse School of Economics, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, University of Toulouse Capitole, Toulouse, France ( email )

Toulouse School of Economics
1, Esplanade de l'Université
Toulouse, 31080
France

Yosh Halberstam

University of Toronto ( email )

Department of Economics
150 St George St.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G7
Canada

Alan Yu

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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