Implicit Egoism in Sentencing Decisions: First Letter Name Effects with Randomly Assigned Defendants
TSE Working Paper No. 16-726
49 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2017 Last revised: 10 Feb 2020
Date Written: April 20, 2019
I find that judges assign 8% longer sentences to defendants whose first initials match their own. Name letter effects amplify when the first and second letter of the name match, when the entire name matches, when the name letter is rare, and appear for roughly all judges. The effects are larger for black defendants classified as “Negro” rather than “Black”. The first initial effect replicates for the last name, as does the difference by racial label. These results are robust to adjusting for controls including skin, hair, and eye color, which highlights how racial labels can affect recognition and dignity.
Keywords: Implicit Egoism, Name Effects, Defendants, Egotism
JEL Classification: B51, C93, D63, D64, J15, K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation