Implicit Egoism in Sentencing Decisions: First Letter Name Effects with Randomly Assigned Defendants
TSE Working Paper No. 16-726
22 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2017 Last revised: 31 May 2017
Date Written: March 3, 2017
Implicit egotism — in particular, unconscious associations that individuals have with others who share their names or first initials — is a mainstay of modern psychology textbooks. Using unique data on 48,988 randomly assigned defendants from 1988-1999, we find that judges assign 8% longer sentences when they match on first initials with the defendant. The effects are larger for Negroes, which could be due to behavioral biases playing a stronger role when decision-makers are nearly indifferent. The effect is consistent with threatened egotism, in which individuals motivated to manage self-image create social distance from negatively-valenced targets perceived to be associated with the self.
Keywords: Implicit Egoism, Name Effects, Defendants, Egotism
JEL Classification: B51, C93, D63, D64, J15, K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation