Judge decision fatigue: Chance of parole in the morning: 70%. Late afternoon < 10%.
Researchers, who analyzed more than 1,100 decisions over the course of a year, found that judges approved parole in about 70 percent of cases heard first thing in the morning, but less than 10 percent of those heard in the late afternoon.
Decision fatigue is the newest discovery involving a phenomenon called ego depletion, coined by Roy Baumeister, based on a series of experiments at Case Western and Florida State University.
These experiments demonstrated that there is a finite store of mental energy for exerting self-control and decision making.
The mental work of ruling on case after case, whatever the individual merits, wore the judges down.
Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car.
No matter how rational you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price.
The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it looks for shortcuts, either acting impulsively or taking the safe path and doing nothing.
Willpower turns out to be more than a folk concept or a metaphor. It really is a form of mental energy that can be exhausted.