Chapter 8: Hungry Judges

I think we’ve all experienced being hangry. I know I can’t concentrate so well when I’m hungry, and am less tolerant when I’m tired. These are clear examples of our thoughts and behaviour being influenced by biological factors.

But what about judges, do they give harsher sentences before lunchtime? Research in Israel found that judges were less likely to give favourable rulings just before lunch than just after, dubbed the ‘irrational hungry judge effect’. The analysis of this will no doubt continue, but some claim it has been over-stated.

It’s these kind of effects that cause legal realists to argue that law is subjective and can produce inconsistent judgements.