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Article Title

You Are in Charge: Experimentally Testing the Motivating Power of Holding a Judicial Office

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Abstract

Apparently, judges’ decisions are not motivated by maximizing profit. Two explanations compete: there are long-term monetary consequences; conscientious individuals self-select into the profession. In a lab experiment, we rule out both explanations. Nonetheless, authorities do a reliable job of overcoming a social dilemma. Calling the authorities public officials or judges strengthens the effect. This suggests that the effect is not driven by anger or sympathy with the victims but follows from the office motive: the desire to fulfill the expectations that come with an assigned task. We test three extensions: When given an opportunity to announce an explicit policy, judges become less sensitive to the objective degree of reproach and more sensitive to their personal social value orientation. If judges are elected or experienced, they react more intensely to norm violations. Experienced judges are more affected by their social value orientation.

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