NZEEL Distinguished Lecture 2013 - NZ Experimental Economics Laboratory - College of Business and Economics - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

NZEEL Distinguished Lecture 2013

Joep SonnemansPresenter: Professor Joep Sonnemans

What if...Judges could understand forensic experts?

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Wednesday, 27 March, 6.30pm - 8.00pm

Undercroft, James Hight Building

  • What kind of mistakes do judges make?
  • Will judges and forensic experts ever understand each other?
  • What can we do to improve the decisions of judges?
  • How can economics experiments help?

In courtrooms you may find two frustrated groups of people: judges and forensic experts. The judges are frustrated because they have to make decisions based on the available evidence, but this evidence is often very technical and statistical – not the kind of text they learned to interpret in law school. The forensic experts who write these reports are, typically, natural scientists who try to be as exact as possible and are frustrated when the judges seem to misunderstand. Judges make errors, but these errors are not easily observed. After an acquittal the case is closed so it is difficult to find out at a later date if the suspect was the perpetrator after all. Only rarely is a convicted suspect found to be innocent. This lack of feedback means a judge can make the same errors during his career without ever knowing. In a laboratory experiment, we can create an environment in which such decisions can be compared with the correct decision. In this way, we can find out what kind of errors are most likely and what we can do about it.

Professor Joep Sonnemans graduated in mathematics and social psychology from the University of Utrecht, Netherlands. After working as a researcher on social security at the Ministry of Social Affairs and as a research associate in psychology at the University of Amsterdam(where he obtained his doctorate), he made the move to experimental economics in 1992. He is mainly interested in (experimental) research in which insights from economics and other social sciences (e.g. psychology) are combined or contrasted: expectation formation, bargaining, social behaviour, law & economics and individual search behaviour. He has published about 50 articles in international economic journals.

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  • Contact
    Associate Professor Jeremy Clark 
  • Physical address

    Department of Economics and Finance
    University of Canterbury
    Private Bag 4800
    Christchurch 8140
    New Zealand
  • Postal address
    University of Canterbury
    Private Bag 4800, Christchurch
    New Zealand
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