Article

Dissociable neural systems for moral judgment of anti- and pro-social lying

Brain research (Impact Factor: 2.46). 01/2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2014.02.011

ABSTRACT Pro-social lying, which serves to benefit listeners, is considered more socially and morally acceptable than anti-social lying, which serves to harm listeners. However, it is still unclear whether the neural mechanisms underlying the moral judgment of pro-social lying differ from those underlying the moral judgment of anti-social lying. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the neural activities associated with moral judgment in anti- and pro-social lying. During fMRI scanning, subjects were provided with scenarios describing a protagonist's anti- and pro-social lying and were then asked to judge whether the protagonist's act was morally appropriate. The behavioral data showed that anti-social lying was mostly judged to be morally inappropriate and that pro-social lying was mainly judged to be morally appropriate. The functional imaging data revealed dissociable neural systems for moral judgment in anti- and pro-social lying. The anti-social lying, which was judged to be morally inappropriate, was associated with increased activity in the right ventromedial prefrontal cortex, right middle frontal gyrus, right precuneus/posterior cingulate gyrus, left posterior cingulate gyrus, and bilateral temporoparietal junction when compared with the control condition. The pro-social lying, which was judged to be morally appropriate, was associated with increased activity in the right middle temporal gyrus, right supramarginal gyrus, and the left middle cingulate gyrus when compared with the control condition. No overlapping activity was observed during the moral judgment of anti- and pro-social lying. Our data suggest that cognitive and neural processes for the moral judgment of lying are modulated by whether the lie serves to harm or benefit listeners.

0 Bookmarks
 · 
31 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: There is a growing interest for the determinants of human choice behavior in social settings. Upon initial contact, investment choices in social settings can be inherently risky, as the degree to which the other person will reciprocate is unknown. Nevertheless, people have been shown to exhibit prosocial behavior even in one-shot laboratory settings where all interaction has been taken away. A logical step has been to link such behavior to trait empathy-related neurobiological networks. However, as a social interaction unfolds, the degree of uncertainty with respect to the expected payoff of choice behavior may change as a function of the interaction. Here we attempt to capture this factor. We show that the interpersonal tie one develops with another person during interaction - rather than trait empathy - motivates investment in a public good that is shared with an anonymous interaction partner. We examined how individual differences in trait empathy and interpersonal ties modulate neural responses to imposed monetary sharing. After, but not before interaction in a public good game, sharing prompted activation of neural systems associated with reward (striatum), empathy (anterior insular cortex and anterior cingulate cortex) as well as altruism, and social significance [posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS)]. Although these activations could be linked to both empathy and interpersonal ties, only tie-related pSTS activation predicted prosocial behavior during subsequent interaction, suggesting a neural substrate for keeping track of social relevance.
    Frontiers in Neuroscience 01/2012; 6:28.
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Automatic intuitions and deliberate reasoning, sourcing internal representations of our personal norms and values, contribute to our beliefs of what is right and wrong. We used fMRI to directly compare moral (M) and non-moral (NM) decision-making processes using scenarios requiring conscious deliberation, whereby the main character declared an intention to take a course of action. Furthermore, we examined the relationship between BOLD signal, associated with M>NM decision-making, and moral judgment competence, psychopathy, and empathy. We observed greater activity in various parts of Theory of Mind, empathy and default mode networks during M>NM decision-making. There was a trend for high scores on primary psychopathy to correlate with decreased M>NM BOLD activation in an area extending from dorsolateral prefrontal cortex to medial prefrontal cortex. We suggest that moral decision-making entails a greater degree of internally directed processing, such as self-referential mental processing and the representation of intentions and feelings, than non-moral decision-making.
    Biological psychology 03/2012; 90(3):202-10. · 4.36 Impact Factor
  • The Journal of Social Psychology 03/1986; 126(1):129-30. · 0.64 Impact Factor