Social Neuroscience 6 (3):302-315 (2011)

Rebecca Saxe
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Moral judgment depends critically on theory of mind, reasoning about mental states such as beliefs and intentions. People assign blame for failed attempts to harm and offer forgiveness in the case of accidents. Here we use fMRI to investigate the role of ToM in moral judgment of harmful vs. helpful actions. Is ToM deployed differently for judgments of blame vs. praise? Participants evaluated agents who produced a harmful, helpful, or neutral outcome, based on a harmful, helpful, or neutral intention; participants made blame and praise judgments. In the right temporo-parietal junction, and, to a lesser extent, the left TPJ and medial prefrontal cortex, the neural response reflected an interaction between belief and outcome factors, for both blame and praise judgments: The response in these regions was highest when participants delivered a negative moral judgment, i.e., assigned blame or withheld praise, based solely on the agent's intent. These results show enhanced attention to mental states for negative moral verdicts based exclusively on mental state information
Keywords Adolescent  Female  Humans  intuition  Judgment  judgment  Magnetic Resonance Imaging  Male  Mental Processes  morals  Parietal Lobe  Social Responsibility  Temporal Lobe  theory of mind  Young Adult
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DOI 10.1080/17470919.2010.529712
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The Paradox of Moral Focus.Liane Young & Jonathan Phillips - 2011 - Cognition 119 (2):166-178.
Intuitive And Reflective Responses In Philosophy.Nick Byrd - 2014 - Dissertation, University of Colorado

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