Two fun articles come from today’s issue of Sleep. They discuss the perils of decision-makers who don’t get enough sleep or sleep in inapropriate places.
- The Case of ‘Judge Nodd’ and Other Sleeping Judges – Media, Society and Judicial Sleepiness (press release)
- Sleep Deprivation Elevates Expectation of Gains and Attenuates Response to Losses Following Risky Decisions (press release)
Both articles are embargoed, hence the links to press releases.
The article about judges who fall sleep in the courtroom made me think of the reasoning capacities of a tired and overworked judiciary, and how neurolaw might shed some light on this (grey) matter.
There has been a lot of public and scholarly discussion about neurolaw, but so far most of it is about ablating criminal responsibility by reducing the decision-making capacities of the accused. Surely there is room for some analysis of the decision-making that takes place during the trial, and in the minds of those who make choices of fact and law.
I suspect neuroscience has a lot to tell us about how judges and juries think about justice, rights and responsibility, and procedural fairness. It might even address the question: Does legal training affect the neurology of decision-making?
The psychology of justice is an undeveloped field. It tends towards psycho-economic discussions of deservedness and distributive justice, analyzing perceptions of fair allocations of wealth. Perhaps the recent interest in neuroethics and neurolaw will invigorate research into other questions of psychology relevant to law and society. For a research program made-to-order, consult:
- Norman J. Finkel & Fathali M. Moghaddam, eds. The Psychology of Rights and Duties: Empirical Contributions and Normative Commentaries (Washington DC: American Psychological Association, 2005).