Article

The neurobiology of moral behavior: review and neuropsychiatric implications.

Department of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
CNS spectrums (Impact Factor: 1.3). 11/2009; 14(11):608-20.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Morality may be innate to the human brain. This review examines the neurobiological evidence from research involving functional magnetic resonance imaging of normal subjects, developmental sociopathy, acquired sociopathy from brain lesions, and frontotemporal dementia. These studies indicate a "neuromoral" network for responding to moral dilemmas centered in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and its connections, particularly on the right. The neurobiological evidence indicates the existence of automatic "prosocial" mechanisms for identification with others that are part of the moral brain. Patients with disorders involving this moral network have attenuated emotional reactions to the possibility of harming others and may perform sociopathic acts. The existence of this neuromoral system has major clinical implications for the management of patients with dysmoral behavior from brain disorders and for forensic neuropsychiatry.

1 Follower
 · 
95 Views
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This article proposes a novel integrative approach to moral judgment and a related model that could explain how unconscious heuristic processes are transformed into consciously accessible moral intuitions. Different hypothetical cases have been tested empirically to evoke moral intuitions that support principles from competing moral theories. We define and analyze the types of intuitions that moral theories and studies capture: those focusing on agents (A), deeds (D), and consequences (C). The integrative ADC approach uses the heuristic principle of "attribute substitution" to explain how people make intuitive judgments. The target attributes of moral judgments are moral blameworthiness and praiseworthiness, which are substituted with more accessible and computable information about an agent's virtues and vices, right/wrong deeds, and good/bad consequences. The processes computing this information are unconscious and inaccessible, and therefore explaining how they provide input for moral intuitions is a key problem. We analyze social heuristics identified in the literature and offer an outline for a new model of moral judgment. Simple social heuristics triggered by morally salient cues rely on three distinct processes (role-model entity, action analysis, and consequence tallying—REACT) in order to compute the moral valence of specific intuitive responses (A, D, and C). These are then rapidly combined to form an intuitive judgment that could guide quick decision making. The ADC approach and REACT model can clarify a wide set of data from empirical moral psychology and could inform future studies on moral judgment, as well as case assessments and discussions about issues causing "deadlocked" moral intuitions. Research into the moral domain 1 has been plagued by unsuccessful attempts to provide a general and encom-passing approach to the resolution of moral dilemmas. An enduring source of debate concerns the relationship between moral intuitions and judgments as well as the proper methods by which to justify them. Three major Address correspondence to Veljko Dubljevi c, 1. This research can be divided into empirical moral psychology, normative ethics, and specific moral theories. Empirical moral psychology gives a descriptive account of how and why moral cognition functions and produces the phenomena of moral intui-tion, sentiments of moral approbation and obligation, and the rest of the materials for higher cognitive deliberations about moral-ity. Normative ethics provides the higher cognitive work of assembling and deliberating about our genuine moral obligations from all the raw materials of moral intuitions and feelings of moral approbation and duty. Specific moral theories provide the philosophical work of selecting and "saving" the firmest and most reliable moral judgments in systematic and coherent form in order to justify firm principles for generic moral action, and to pass judgment against what they consider to be "pseudo-moral" intuitions or values which cannot fit this system. We are grateful to an anonymous reviewer for the constructive comments that provided input for this distinction. ajob Neuroscience 3
    AJOB Neuroscience 10/2014; 5(4):3-20. DOI:10.1080/21507740.2014.939381
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Although past research has established that the utilitarian bias (increased willingness to agree to personally kill someone for the greater good) in psychopathy on moral dilemmas stems from weaker negative affect at the prospect of harming others due to reduced harm aversion, it remains to be seen if this is owing to reduced aversion to witnessing harmful outcomes (outcome aversion) or performing harmful actions (action aversion). In this study, we show that trait psychopathy is associated with both reduced outcome and action aversion and that only action aversion negatively mediates the influence of trait psychopathy on utilitarian moral judgement. Thus, the increased tendency in psychopathy to make utilitarian moral judgements is in part due to reduced aversion to carrying out harmful actions.
    Journal of Cognitive Psychology 02/2015; 27(3):349-366. DOI:10.1080/20445911.2015.1004334 · 1.20 Impact Factor
  • Source
    Handbook of Rational Choice Social Research., Edited by R. Wittek, T.A.B. Snijders, and V. Nee, 01/2013: chapter Social rationality, self-regulation and well-being: The regulatory significance of needs, goals, and the self: pages 72-112; Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Preview

Download
0 Downloads
Available from