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Experience Versus Perception in Evaluating the Rule of Law

Benito Arruñada (Pompeu Fabra University)

Abstract : Experience is a major source of knowledge. Could institutions be improved by eliciting the additional knowledge held by experienced individuals? In this paper, I show that experienced individuals are more critical of institutional quality in several areas of the law. Moreover, performance indexes built with experienced subsamples substantially alter country rankings. I argue that more knowledge leads experienced individuals to revise the more benign view held by inexperienced individuals. Moreover, experience is more effective than alternative sources of knowledge, including education, which seemingly reinforce benign and arguably incorrect assessments of institutional quality. After observing how this “experience effect” varies systematically across countries, I conclude by proposing that evaluations of institutional quality should focus on experienced individuals and cautioning against econometric inferences based on assessments made by the general population.

Covering: Mutable Characteristics and Perceptions of Voice in the U.s. Supreme Court

Daniel Chen (Toulouse School of Economics, IAST, CNRS)
Yosh Halberstam (University of Toronto)
Alan Yu (University of Chicago)

Abstract : The emphasis on “fit” as a hiring criterion has raised the spectrum of a new form of subtle discrimination (Bertrand and Duflo 2016). Under complete markets, correlations between malleable characteristics and outcomes should not persist (Becker 1957). Yet using data on 1,901 U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments between 1998 and 2012, we document that voice-based snap judgments based on lawyers’ identical introductory sentences, “Mr. Chief Justice, (and) may it please the Court?”, predict court outcomes. The connection between vocal characteristics and court outcomes is specific only to perceptions of masculinity and not other characteristics, even when judgment is based on less than three seconds of exposure to a lawyer’s speech sample. Consistent with employers mistakenly favoring lawyers with masculine voices, perceived masculinity is negatively correlated with winning and the negative correlation is larger in more masculine-sounding industries. The first lawyer to speak is the main driver. Among these petitioners, males below median in masculinity are 7 percentage points more likely to win in the Supreme Court. Female lawyers are also coached to be more masculine and women’s perceived femininity predict court outcomes. Republicans, more than Democrats, vote for more feminine-sounding females, while Democrats, but not Republicans, vote for less masculine-sounding men. A de-biasing experiment finds that information reduces 40% of the correlation between perceived masculinity and perceived win, and incentives reduce another 20%. A model shows how the information treatment identifies statistical discrimination and the incentives treatment identifies taste. Perceived masculinity explains additional variance relative to and is orthogonal to the best random forest prediction model of Supreme Court votes.

Where’d You Get That Idea? Testing the Determinants of Creativity, Innovation and Impact

Bernardo Mueller (University of Brasilia)

Abstract : How is novelty created in art, science, institutions and culture? In this paper I explore this question through an analysis of data from the Song Explorer podcast, where composers describe how they created a specific song. I mine their accounts to classify their processes into seven different, but not mutually exclusive, theories of the creative process. The result of this exercise suggests that the recombination of existing songs is a major process for the creation of new successful songs. The second step considers what kind of recombinations are associated with high impact. For each song in the sample I have one or more other songs which were explicitly indicated as an influence or inspiration. I use the music genre classification system Every Noise at Once, that provides a map of over 1,800 genres and millions of songs to create a set of descriptive statistics of the similarity of each song to their inspiration-songs. These statistics are then used as explanatory variables in a regression that seeks to explain impact (YouTube views per day since the songs` video release), while controlling for other determinants of song impact, such as the artists’ established level of popularity. The results confirm the optimal differentiation hypothesis, found by research in the areas of science, technology, economics, and politics, that the simultaneous presence of conventionality together with novelty, and not just one or the other, is a major determinant of creativity and impact.