Why You Don’t Want To Be Up For Parole Before Lunch

by Nate St. Pierre on April 20, 2012

I read an interesting article today (Ego Depletion) over at a cool site I follow, You Are Not So Smart.

It had to do with human physiology, and how many different studies show that when humans are faced with situations that test their willpower in various ways, both mental and physical, we become weaker for the next “willpower attack” until we rest and/or recharge. Rest can come in the form of taking a break from anything taxing, and recharging can come in the form of eating, especially glucose-heavy foods.

It’s a really long article, and there’s a lot of interesting discussion in there (including some on why Sigmund Freud spouted a lot of bunk), so I’d encourage you to go check it out. But the most amazing fact I pulled from it was this:

A study published in 2010 conducted by Jonathan Leval, Shai Danziger, and Liora Avniam-Pesso of of Columbia and Ben-Guron Universities looked at 1,112 judicial ruling over the course of 10 months concerning prisoner paroles. They found that right after breakfast and lunch, your chances of getting paroled were at their highest. On average, the judges granted parole to around 60 percent of prisoners right after the judge had eaten a meal. The rate of approval crept down after that. Right before a meal, the judges granted parole to about 20 percent of those appearing before them. The less glucose in judges’ bodies, the less willing they were to make the active choice of setting a person free and accepting the consequences and the more likely they were to go with the passive choice to put the fate of the prisoner off until a future date.

I understand that this is mostly anecdotal evidence, but WOW. And it makes sense on an intuitive level, right? We all know how we get when we’re tired or hungry or overworked, right? Cranky, less thoughtful, wanting to get whatever’s in front of us off our plate as quickly as possible so we can eat or rest or go home or whatever. And look how that may turn out in real life, and how much that little bit of difference can make in the life of someone you touch.

I’m not 100% sure about all this, but I can tell you that if I’m ever up for parole, I’ll lobby for a 1:30 hearing.

Do you guys think this makes sense, or is it a case of selective science?

(Image source: Public Domain Pictures)

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