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News Article | May 17, 2017
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

Education -- and girls' education in particular -- is often cited as one of the key pathways out of poverty, but in many parts of the world women and girls still face significant barriers that prevent them from attending school. Now, a field study in Malawi reveals psychological factors played an important role in whether girls attended school, even under conditions of extreme poverty and deprivation: Girls were significantly more likely to attend class when they were intrinsically excited about school and learning, even when they struggled with a lack of basic resources at home. The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. "We are prone to think that giving girls a reward for going to school will increase their motivation. Instead, our results indicate that stimulating their intrinsic joy of learning is a stronger predictor of their actual school going behavior, even under conditions of severe poverty," says researcher Marieke van Egmond of the University of Hagen in Germany, lead author on the study. Even though a significant part of the global population lives under conditions of poverty, empirical psychological research with people living in poverty around the world is rare. Studies like this one are vital to determining whether theories and findings obtained in Western, industrialized settings hold for people who are exposed to very different life circumstances. "In general, girls really want to go to school, enjoy learning, and go to great lengths to do so. In psychological terms, they are intrinsically motivated," van Egmond explained. "Poverty and social dynamics, however, work against them. Cultural beliefs and attitudes reinforce the idea that girls won't use their education or that they are not smart enough to continue with school. In other words, they don't feel like they belong in school, they don't feel competent and lack power." To better understand the psychological factors that can help marginalized girls stay in school, van Egmond teamed up with the international development non-profit Theatre for a Change (TfaC) and researchers from One South to conduct a field study. TfaC's program focuses on empowering marginalized girls through school-based girls clubs. Study participants included 642 girls and young women between the ages of 10 and 22 years old living in rural Malawi, a landlocked country in southeastern Africa that ranks 170 out of 188 on the United Nation's 2016 Human Development Index. Participants were randomly selected from girls attending schools in Theatre for a Change school programs. Interviews for the study were conducted by a specially trained team of 24 bilingual (English and Chichewa) female interviewers. The interviewers surveyed the girls about their intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for attending school, their health, and how frequently they didn't get enough to eat, didn't have enough clean water, lacked medicine or medical treatment, or lacked any cash income. The researchers measured school attendance by looking at the number of days that girls had attended school over the month of February 2015. School attendance was significantly higher among girls who were intrinsically motivated to attend school -- those who said they enjoyed school and learning for its own sake -- regardless of the level of resource scarcity that the girls were exposed to. Extrinsic motivation -- that is, going to school because it is expected or normative -- did not predict school attendance. The results suggest that interventions that target aspects of intrinsic motivation, such as a sense of competence and autonomy, may be as effective as economic approaches in achieving behavioral change, as long as fundamental structural barriers (such as access to pens and paper) are overcome. "The take home message is that development projects that aim to increase the school attendance of girls in impoverished settings need to not only aim for female empowerment, but for creating environments in which girls feel that they belong and feel able to learn as well," van Egmond says. "This will stimulate the girls' intrinsic motivation to go to school, which is a strong predictor of their actual attendance." Such interventions could ultimately lead to wide-ranging benefits, as research suggests that attending school provides lifelong health and economic advantages to women and girls, including higher incomes, better health care, and better education for ensuing generations. Yet, according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, there are 33 million fewer girls than boys in primary schools worldwide. Van Egmond and colleagues plan on extending this research to other countries in the sub-Saharan region in order to see if the patterns observed hold in different cultural contexts.


News Article | May 17, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Education -- and girls' education in particular -- is often cited as one of the key pathways out of poverty, but in many parts of the world women and girls still face significant barriers that prevent them from attending school. Now, a field study in Malawi reveals psychological factors played an important role in whether girls attended school, even under conditions of extreme poverty and deprivation: Girls were significantly more likely to attend class when they were intrinsically excited about school and learning, even when they struggled with a lack of basic resources at home. The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. "We are prone to think that giving girls a reward for going to school will increase their motivation. Instead, our results indicate that stimulating their intrinsic joy of learning is a stronger predictor of their actual school going behavior, even under conditions of severe poverty," says researcher Marieke van Egmond of the University of Hagen in Germany, lead author on the study. Even though a significant part of the global population lives under conditions of poverty, empirical psychological research with people living in poverty around the world is rare. Studies like this one are vital to determining whether theories and findings obtained in Western, industrialized settings hold for people who are exposed to very different life circumstances. "In general, girls really want to go to school, enjoy learning, and go to great lengths to do so. In psychological terms, they are intrinsically motivated," van Egmond explained. "Poverty and social dynamics, however, work against them. Cultural beliefs and attitudes reinforce the idea that girls won't use their education or that they are not smart enough to continue with school. In other words, they don't feel like they belong in school, they don't feel competent and lack power." To better understand the psychological factors that can help marginalized girls stay in school, van Egmond teamed up with the international development non-profit Theatre for a Change (TfaC) and researchers from One South to conduct a field study. TfaC's program focuses on empowering marginalized girls through school-based girls clubs. Study participants included 642 girls and young women between the ages of 10 and 22 years old living in rural Malawi, a landlocked country in southeastern Africa that ranks 170 out of 188 on the United Nation's 2016 Human Development Index. Participants were randomly selected from girls attending schools in Theatre for a Change school programs. Interviews for the study were conducted by a specially trained team of 24 bilingual (English and Chichewa) female interviewers. The interviewers surveyed the girls about their intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for attending school, their health, and how frequently they didn't get enough to eat, didn't have enough clean water, lacked medicine or medical treatment, or lacked any cash income. The researchers measured school attendance by looking at the number of days that girls had attended school over the month of February 2015. School attendance was significantly higher among girls who were intrinsically motivated to attend school - those who said they enjoyed school and learning for its own sake - regardless of the level of resource scarcity that the girls were exposed to. Extrinsic motivation - that is, going to school because it is expected or normative -- did not predict school attendance. The results suggest that interventions that target aspects of intrinsic motivation, such as a sense of competence and autonomy, may be as effective as economic approaches in achieving behavioral change, as long as fundamental structural barriers (such as access to pens and paper) are overcome. "The take home message is that development projects that aim to increase the school attendance of girls in impoverished settings need to not only aim for female empowerment, but for creating environments in which girls feel that they belong and feel able to learn as well," van Egmond says. "This will stimulate the girls' intrinsic motivation to go to school, which is a strong predictor of their actual attendance." Such interventions could ultimately lead to wide-ranging benefits, as research suggests that attending school provides lifelong health and economic advantages to women and girls, including higher incomes, better health care, and better education for ensuing generations. Yet, according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, there are 33 million fewer girls than boys in primary schools worldwide. Van Egmond and colleagues plan on extending this research to other countries in the sub-Saharan region in order to see if the patterns observed hold in different cultural contexts. Co-authors on the research include Andrés Navarrete Berges and Tariq Omarshah of One South and Jennifer Benton of Theatre for a Change. Theatre for a Change Malawi received funding from the U.K. Department for International Development. The current project was funded within the framework of the Girls Education Challenge (Reference No. 8329). All materials have been made publicly available via the Open Science Framework. The complete Open Practices Disclosure for this article is available online. This article has received the badge for Open Materials. For more information about this study, please contact: Marieke Christina van Egmond at mvanegmond8@gmail.com. The article abstract is available online: http://journals. The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. For a copy of the article "The Role of Intrinsic Motivation and the Satisfaction of Basic Psychological Needs Under Conditions of Severe Resource Scarcity" and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Anna Mikulak at 202-293-9300 or amikulak@psychologicalscience.org.


News Article | May 15, 2017
Site: www.sciencemag.org

As summer turned to fall in 2015, Ulrich Wagner was glued to the news, watching decades of his social psychology research play out on TV. Images beamed from Munich, Germany, more than 300 kilometers from Wagner's home north of Frankfurt, showed thousands of refugees flooding the city's train station. Their arrival marked the hopeful end of a journey begun in war-torn Syria and other Middle Eastern hot spots. And Wagner was impressed to see the welcome extended by his fellow Germans. Outside the station, tankards of water with plastic cups lined the sidewalk. Volunteers sorted through boxes of cereal and diapers. One photo showed a German police officer crouched and smiling, eye-to-eye with a young refugee boy who wore the officer's forest green hat and a broad grin. The scale of the migrant influx into Munich and elsewhere in Germany was hard to fathom: one million people entering a country of 80 million. It was a test for Germany as a nation. "If we do this well," Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel was quoted as saying, "we can only win." The influx also has morphed into a giant, ill-controlled social experiment. How much social support should the government provide? How can it find long-term housing for everyone who needs it? Will newcomers embrace the social norms of their adopted country, and what happens if they don't? These are among the most pressing questions, but in the background hovers another: How can individuals, civic groups, and governments manage prejudice against refugees? Despite the encouraging scenes at the train station, alarms soon went off for Wagner, who teaches at the Philipps University of Marburg. The refugees were funneled into reception centers, where they stayed for up to 8 months, he says. In his town, which took in hundreds of people, the refugees were first housed in enormous tents and then in an expanse of prefabricated houses, isolating them from life in the surrounding community. Separating newcomers from the home population, according to Wagner's studies and many others, "is not really a good idea." If there's one factor that fights prejudice, Wagner says, it's contact: neighborly greetings, children mixing in school, sports teams of refugees and native Germans passing the soccer ball back and forth. Wagner is 65 years old, with a close-cropped graying beard and frameless glasses. Until 2015, he had studied prejudice against Turkish guest workers in Germany. Then, he pivoted to the refugee crisis, hoping that both findings drawn from past work and innovative studies involving the newcomers might point to policies to reduce the prejudice the refugees would probably encounter. "That," he says, "was the starting point" for a new career trajectory. Wagner is one of many social scientists riveted by events unfolding in Germany and elsewhere. Prejudice has an ancient history rooted in evolution and human behavior. But recent events have upped the stakes: the war in Syria and outflow of refugees, the election of President Donald Trump in the United States, Brexit in the United Kingdom, and the rise of far-right parties in Europe, which many attribute to hostility toward immigrants. In the last 5 years, "there's been a mammoth sweep of increased anti-immigration prejudice," says Winnifred Louis, a social psychologist at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Figuring out what to do about it is more pressing than ever. "Human beings have always been group beings," says Rupert Brown, a social psychologist at the University of Sussex in Brighton, U.K. Over millennia, our survival as a species has hinged on small groups sticking together, with members supporting one another. Today, each of us belongs to many such "in groups," as psychologists and anthropologists call them. Those groups might include our neighborhood, our ethnic identity, our religious community, a sports team, or our political affiliation. "One or more of those groups that we belong to may influence our thinking, our emotions, and our behavior," Brown says. Prejudice of course can be directed against any group by any other. But immigrants, and even more so refugees and asylum seekers, may be especially vulnerable because of their tenuous place in a larger society. "You don't really belong anywhere; by definition you're stateless, you're fleeing some place of torture or persecution," Brown says. "And yet you're not a citizen of the country in which you're now living," either. Studies of ancient and modern peoples indicate that prejudice flows largely from a perception that such "out groups" pose some threat: to one's economic security, one's physical safety, one's way of life, or one's national identity. And volatility, like an economic meltdown or a terrorist attack, can intensify those fears. "We tend to pull in, and our definitions of who is part of the national group gets narrower," says Victoria Esses, who studies immigration and prejudice at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. "There's more outsiders." To social psychologists, those ebbs and flows can be encouraging. Even if prejudice never disappears, attitudes are malleable. People can be swung toward prejudice. But with the right tactics, they can also be swung away from it. One of the first people to launch a rigorous, real-world experiment to reduce intergroup prejudice was a young psychologist named Betsy Levy Paluck, now at Princeton University. In 2003, when Paluck was a graduate student at Yale University, her mentor asked for a favor: He was teaching a class on political intolerance and prejudice and needed to update his syllabus with examples of successful interventions. "I went to the literature," Paluck says now. "I couldn't find them." Although many laboratory studies had been conducted, often with college-aged volunteers, to her surprise she could find almost none in the real world. So Paluck designed one. She focused on the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, when, 9 years earlier, members of the country's Hutu majority had slaughtered 800,000 minority Tutsis. Not surprisingly, suspicion and negative stereotypes continued to fester. Paluck wanted to test whether mass media could be a prejudice-busting tool, and turned to a nonprofit called La Benevolencija for help. The group was writing a soap opera, New Dawn, for Rwandan radio. Central to the show were two hostile communities that ultimately reconcile, along with a romance between a woman in one and a man in another. The story did not refer to Hutus and Tutsis directly. "It went over weeks," says Brown, whose own work on anti-immigrant prejudice was influenced by what Paluck found. "Would they, wouldn't they, all the usual stuff" of soap opera lovers. Paluck recruited small groups all over the country who gathered to listen. To create a control group, she offered hundreds of other volunteers a radio show on health and HIV that said nothing about reconciliation—along with financial incentives not to listen to the La Benevolencija show for the time being. The intervention lasted a year, and the show was a huge hit. The positive effects were striking. Soap opera listeners were far more likely to say their community supported intermarriage between Hutus and Tutsis. They were also more likely to agree that people should speak up about their trauma. "You're still left with tons of questions," Paluck says. How long do those effects last? What types of propaganda work against it? "It takes a lot of time to accumulate the evidence, and then you're left with evidence from one program in one context." Paluck was fortunate to find a show with finely honed messages to which people actually wanted to listen. Still, her project underscored the ability of mass media to modulate perspectives of community norms. In Canada, Esses and her then–graduate student, Andrea Lawson, studied the reverse effect, showing volunteers an editorial cartoon suggesting that immigrants spread infectious disease. Esses, who published her results in 2013, says she couldn't imagine that looking at one cartoon would influence what she assumed were deeply held beliefs. "I was surprised," she says, that it did, with prejudice against immigrants increasing by 0.5 to 1.5 points on a five- or seven-point scale. Such attitudes can have a real impact on immigrants, whose mental health can reflect the degree of welcome they receive in a host country. Media messages exert power—for better and worse—because they play on our emotions. But they can also influence attitudes by communicating outsiders' experiences to the broader public. Such "indirect" contact is easier to engineer than actual friendship between real people, and it is gaining attention. Aware that Paluck pulled off a version of indirect contact with the Rwandan radio show, Brown in the United Kingdom has teamed up with an Italian children's book author named Laura Ferraresi to design books for elementary schoolers. One book, Adventures and Mysteries at School: Tales Against Prejudice Drawn by Children, describes children from Africa and China who move to Italy and enjoy life with new friends. After 6 weeks of reading and discussing the book, children in Italy were asked how much they would want to engage with immigrant children—for example, by playing at school or inviting them to dinner. The improvement was modest but real, about a half-point on a five-point scale, although how long the effect will last isn't clear. Brown and many others agree that for reducing prejudice, nothing beats active engagement between newcomers and locals. And such contact with refugees doesn't get much more direct than it is in Canada these days. There, groups of up to five citizens can volunteer to sponsor a Syrian family for a year, raising money for living expenses and providing social support. In the last 18 months or so, Canadians have sponsored thousands of refugees. Researchers are already seeing hints that the program is affecting attitudes, not only between sponsors and refugees, but also in the wider community. "It leads to civic activity, which actually changes the climate," says Christopher Kyriakides, a sociologist at York University in Toronto, Canada. "Neighbors who were once potentially against [sponsorship] have come around." In one of the first studies on private sponsorship of Syrian refugees, he and his colleagues interviewed 105 sponsors and sponsored refugees. Among the findings: It helps when sponsors view refugees as "persons who have rescued themselves" rather than "objects to be rescued." Canada's private sponsorship system and its tight control over who enters the country is vastly different from what has happened in Germany, which experienced an exponentially greater influx over which it had less control. Not surprisingly, the German situation is far more complex and efforts to nurture contact have faced more hurdles. Wagner, as part of his new focus on refugees, is trying to encourage mixing where possible. He works with schools to set up classroom projects in which refugee and German children collaborate, and he acts as an adviser to the German government, promoting even distribution of refugees in different regions to avoid refugee "ghettos." At the University of Hagen in Germany, social psychologist Stefan Stürmer is not only ensuring that contact happens, but also studying what makes it most successful. He is experimenting with a study-buddy program that pairs international students with native Germans. Stürmer is examining what motivates local students to assist international ones. "We try to match them with buddies who have a potential to fulfill those motivations," such as empathy for a foreign student or curiosity about a part of the world. The emotions of the home students are complicated, Stürmer has found. "There is an empathic impulse, and that might be a strong impulse, but there are also other emotions," he says, such as "insecurity, intergroup anxiety, concerns about behaving correctly, offering [the] appropriate kind of help." Psychologists who have studied ethnic-based prejudice in the United States have found something similar: Because white people fear their own missteps, they often hesitate to interact with black people. Instead, whites stay away, avoiding even eye contact. However promising some current interventions are, scattered efforts on the ground can do only so much. "You need structural changes," too, says Thomas Pettigrew, a social psychologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and, at 86 years old, a pioneer in the field. Those changes can be something as simple as government-funded language classes because a shared language is one of the best ways to guarantee contact. Political leadership also matters. Anti-immigrant language by U.S. and various European politicians may reflect the views of some of their constituents—but psychologists believe that the rhetoric can also fuel prejudice. And the reverse is true: In December 2015, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was filmed at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, warmly greeting the country's first Syrian refugees. Danielle Gaucher, a social psychologist at the University of Winnipeg in Canada, along with Esses and others, have been surveying groups of more than 300 Canadians about their attitudes toward refugees over time. Since Trudeau was elected in late 2015, those attitudes have improved notably. In Canada, "it became part of our national dialogue that we're welcoming," Esses says. Some drivers of prejudice, such as economic instability or an uncontrolled influx of refugees, can be hard for even the most seasoned politicians to manage. Still, Esses believes, "We think of the government as reflecting the will of the people … but it tells us how we define ourselves as a nation."


Fahrnberger G.,University of Hagen
Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics) | Year: 2014

Many companies have thought about using external hosting solutions. Cloud computing as such a solution attracts prospective users who want to avoid initial costs and standing expenses with the underlying pay-as-you-use model. The outsourcing of sensitive information implies security risks, like eavesdropping and sabotage, for them as soon as they pass any unconfident area. If an outhouse hosting solution serves as data storage only, then an end-to-end cryptosystem without the necessity of having homomorphic properties comes up with the answer. Moreover, secure computations on the encrypted data need the use of more complex cryptosystems. SecureString 1.0 [3] and SecureString 2.0 [4] were proposed as such complex cryptosystems that focus on computing on encrypted character strings in untrustworthy environments (like clouds). While SecureString 1.0 offered a too inflexible approach, SecureString 2.0 as its improvement was introduced textually at a high level only so far. This paper contributes to foster the understanding of SecureString 2.0 by providing performance analysis for its supported operations plus formal definitions, theorems and proofs. © 2014 Springer International Publishing Switzerland.


Forster F.,University of Hagen | Bortfeldt A.,University of Hagen
Computers and Operations Research | Year: 2012

In the container relocation problem (CRP) n items are given that belong to G different item groups (g=1,..,G). The items are piled up in up to S stacks with a maximum stack height H. A move can either shift one item from the top of a stack to the top of another one (relocation) or pick an item from the top of a stack and entirely remove it (remove). A move of the latter type is only feasible if the group index of the item is minimum compared to all remaining items in all stacks. A move sequence of minimum length has to be determined that removes all items from the stacks. The CRP occurs frequently in container terminals of seaports. It has to be solved when containers, piled up in stacks, need to be transported to a ship or to trucks in a predefined sequence. This article presents a heuristic tree search procedure for the CRP. The procedure is compared to all known solution approaches for the CRP and turns out to be very competitive. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Bortfeldt A.,University of Hagen
Computers and Operations Research | Year: 2012

The capacitated vehicle routing problem with three-dimensional loading constraints combines capacitated vehicle routing and three-dimensional loading with additional packing constraints concerning, for example, unloading operations. An efficient hybrid algorithm including a tabu search algorithm for routing and a tree search algorithm for loading is introduced. Computational results are presented for all publicly available test instances. Most of the best solutions previously reported in literature have been improved while the computational effort is drastically reduced compared to other methods. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Huba M.,Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava | Huba M.,University of Hagen
Journal of Process Control | Year: 2013

This paper analyses the optimal nominal tuning of a new modification of predictive disturbance observer (PDO) based filtered PI control (PDO FPI) applied to a first order plus dead time (FOPDT) plant with exactly known parameters. The impacts of applied filters on optimal controller tuning and on achievable closed loop performance are evaluated first of all. The limits of achievable performance are compared with those of traditional two degree of freedom (2DOF) PI control, with both controllers tuned by the multiple real dominant pole method. This comparison shows the potential of PDO FPI control to improve tracking and regulatory dynamics significantly, permitting the Pareto-like servo/regulator trade-off of 2DOF PI control to be removed. Two PDO FPI tuning approaches are proposed, allowing optimal filter degree and time constants to be evaluated. The first tuning scenario considers optimization of closed loop performance expressed in terms of the Integral of the Absolute Error (IAE) weighted alternatively by the relative total variance TV1 of the control signal. This is carried out by changing the filter order n under the constraint that a constant position of the dominant closed loop pole is maintained. This keeps the dynamics of the setpoint step responses almost unchanged. In the second tuning scenario the optimization is carried out under a constraint on constant speed of disturbance step responses. All the main results are then numerically checked for the integral first order plant with dead time by the performance portrait (PP) method. The analysis presented here shows that the new PDO FPI structure substantially enriches the spectrum of controllers applicable to simple control tasks. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Huba M.,Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava | Huba M.,University of Hagen
Journal of Process Control | Year: 2013

This paper considers PI controller tuning for the Integral Plus Dead Time (IPDT) plant subject to constraints on tolerable deviations from ideal shapes and guaranteeing minimal combined IAE (Integral of Absolute Error) measure composed of weighted IAE values of the setpoint and disturbance step responses. As the ideal responses at the plant output, monotonic (MO) transients are chosen. This implies one-pulse (1P) responses consisting of two monotonic intervals at the plant input. Optimal nominal tunings for the most important situations regarding the servo/regulation trade-off are determined by the newly developed Matlab/Simulink tool based on the performance portrait (PP) method. Generated results confirm Pareto-like limits of performance achievable under PI control and are used in classifying traditional tuning approaches into the setpoint and disturbance oriented ones. Principles of robust PP based tuning are briefly illustrated and conditions of invariance of the closed loop performance against the dead time uncertainty are formulated and checked by simulation.© 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Patent
Imec and University of Hagen | Date: 2010-01-12

The present invention is related to a photovoltaic device, the device comprising a first layer of a first semiconductor material of a first conductivity type, a second layer of a second semiconductor material of the opposite conductivity type of the first layer, and a third layer of a third porous semiconductor material situated between the first layer and the second layer. The present invention also provides a method for producing the photovoltaic device.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.newscientist.com

Ever felt hungry and angry at the same time? There’s evidence that “hanger” is a real phenomenon, one that can affect your work and relationships. The main reason we become more irritable when hungry is because our blood glucose level drops. This can make it difficult for us to concentrate, and more likely to snap at those around us. Low blood sugar also triggers the release of stress-related hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, as well as a chemical called neuropeptide Y, which has been found to make people behave more aggressively towards those around them. This can all have an alarming effect on how you feel about other people – even those you love. A classic study of married couples asked them to stick pins into “voodoo dolls” that represented their loved ones, to reflect how angry they felt towards them. The volunteers then competed against their spouse in a game, in which the winner could blast loud noise through the loser’s headphones. The researchers tracked the participants’ blood glucose levels throughout. They found that when people had lower sugar levels, the longer the blasts of unpleasant noise they subjected their spouse to, and the more pins they stuck into their dolls. But while being hungry really does change your behaviour, the effects of hanger have sometimes been overstated. One study that attracted attention a few years ago found that judges are less likely to set lenient sentences the closer it gets to lunch. However, the findings from this study have never been replicated, and a newer analysis by Andreas Glöckner at the University of Hagen, in Germany, has suggested an alternative explanation. Harsher sentences may in fact be more likely towards the end of the morning because judges schedule simpler cases for this time. More complicated, lengthier cases carry a risk of running over into their lunch break. “Simulations show that the direct causal effects of eating on favourable rulings is overestimated by at least 23 per cent,” says Glöckner. We won’t know for certain what causes the nasty judge effect until more research is done. But one thing is clear – it certainly isn’t advisable to make important decisions on an empty stomach.

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