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

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

Date Written: April 20, 2019

Abstract

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

Chen, Daniel L., Implicit Egoism in Sentencing Decisions: First Letter Name Effects with Randomly Assigned Defendants (April 20, 2019). TSE Working Paper No. 16-726, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2928179 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2928179

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

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
122
Abstract Views
1,029
rank
251,306
PlumX Metrics