NZEEL Distinguished Lecture 2013
Professor Joep Sonnemans
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.
To attend, please register online through Eventbrite