What’s in a name?

On the one hand, names are just the words that we use to refer to others. As Juliet famously said of Romeo, a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. On the other hand, names also communicate who belongs and, conversely, who is seen as foreign. For example, to counter being viewed as foreign, many Asian immigrants adopt an Anglicized first name: Americans are more likely to welcome Alex than Xian into their workplace. Names also drive other forms of bias. Experiments in which researchers send out resumes with randomly selected names, find that applicants with distinctively Black names (such as Lakisha and Darnell) are less likely to receive interview offers than those with typically White names (like Emily or Greg) – even with identical qualifications.

Do the same biases afflict judgments in the courtroom? The decision of whether or how long to imprison a person can significantly curtail their freedom and life trajectory. To help judges make data-driven decisions and not rely on their instincts, courts use many different tools, including artificial intelligence, to predict recidivism and otherwise inform decisions. When judges make these decisions, do they punish the crime or the name? In other words, do racial stereotypes attached to names lead to harsher sentences for Black men with more distinctively Black names?

Read the complete article in Public Health Post