Sleep-Deprived Judges Dole Out Harsher Punishments

Harvard Business Review:

One of the unpleasant aspects of being a manager is that you have to deal with employees who engage in punishable offenses, such as taking credit for another employee’s work, blaming someone else for a mistake, harassing a coworker, or violating company policies. Some typical disciplinary actions might include reassignment, suspension, formal performance write-ups, eliminating bonuses, or even firing. A good manager knows that these types of consequences are only effective if they are proportionate to the infraction. Too light, and they will not sufficiently communicate the severity of the infraction, both to the employee who broke the rules and to the peers who are watching. Too heavy, and you create an unfair environment that violates everyone’s expectations for justice.

We all want to believe that we are fair judges, and that we would be objective when allocating such measures. However, there’s an important factor that could undermine your ability to be fair: sleep. My colleagues — Kyoungmin Cho at the University of Washington and Cristiano Guarana at the University of Virginia — and I wanted to investigate this link. My previous research indicates that sleep deprivation impairs ethical judgment and behavior. And the research literature indicates that sleep deprivation leads to errors in decision making that the decision makers are oblivious to. As I discuss in my TEDx talk, sleep-deprived people are impaired without even being aware that they are impaired.

Read the whole story: Harvard Business Review

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