“The Status Quo Theory of Depletion Does not Explain the Israeli Parole Decisions” by Dr. Oeystein Daljord
Dr. Oeystein Daljord
School of Business
The University of Chicago Booth
We use unexploited variation in the field data of Danziger, Levav & Avnim-Pazzo (2010) to revisit the empirical support of its status quo theory of depletion. We show that under the same assumptions as in the original paper, the status quo theory of depletion has testable implications that its empirical results seem to strongly reject. Accounting for a well-known measurement problem tied to the main effect, we moderate the conclusion from strong rejecting the status quo theory, to find it weakly supported, if at all. We argue that it is the quality of the status quo theory that allows us to reinterpret the evidence. We find that a theory of fatigue is consistent with the data, which we argue is a weak and uninformative theory. The exercise emphasizes the returns to employing behavioral theories that make sharp predictions to explain data from field experiments.