Valence of emotions and moral decision-making: increased pleasantness to pleasant images and decreased unpleasantness to unpleasant images are associated with utilitarian choices in healthy adults

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Publication Details

Author list: Carmona-Perera M, Marti-Garcia C, Perez-Garcia M, Verdejo-Garcia A
Publisher: Frontiers Media
Publication year: 2014
Journal: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (1662-5161), Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (1662-5161)
Volume number: 8
Number of pages: 2
ISSN: 1662-5161
eISSN: 1662-5161
Languages: English-Great Britain (EN-GB)


Moral decision-making is a key asset for humans' integration in social
contexts, and the way we decide about moral issues seems to be strongly
influenced by emotions. For example, individuals with deficits in
emotional processing tend to deliver more utilitarian choices (accepting
an emotionally aversive action in favor of communitarian well-being).
However, little is known about the association between emotional
experience and moral-related patterns of choice. We investigated whether
subjective reactivity to emotional stimuli, in terms of valence,
arousal, and dominance, is associated with moral decision-making in 95
healthy adults. They answered to a set of moral and non-moral dilemmas
and assessed emotional experience in valence, arousal and dominance
dimensions in response to neutral, pleasant, unpleasant non-moral, and
unpleasant moral pictures. Results showed significant correlations
between less unpleasantness to negative stimuli, more pleasantness to
positive stimuli and higher proportion of utilitarian choices. We also
found a positive association between higher arousal ratings to negative
moral laden pictures and more utilitarian choices. Low dominance was
associated with greater perceived difficulty over moral judgment. These
behavioral results are in fitting with the proposed role of emotional
experience in moral choice.


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Last updated on 2019-23-08 at 11:15