Oscillatory correlates of moral decision-making: Effect of personality

Gennady G. Knyazev, Alexander N. Savostyanov, Andrey V. Bocharov, Elena A. Dorosheva, Sergey S. Tamozhnikov, Alexander E. Saprigyn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The role of emotion in moral decision-making is still a matter of debate. Greene, Sommerville, Nystrom, Darley, and Cohen (2001) argue that ‘personal’ moral judgments are driven by emotional responses, while ‘impersonal’ judgments are largely driven by cognitive processes. In this study, oscillatory correlates of decision-making were compared in moral personal, moral impersonal, and nonmoral conditions, as well as in trials associated with utilitarian (i.e., favoring the ‘greater good’ over individual rights) and non-utilitarian choices. Event-related synchronization in delta and theta bands was greater in the right temporal lobe in personal than in both nonmoral and impersonal moral condition. Graph-theoretical analysis of connectivity patterns showed the prominent role of the orbitofrontal and cingulate cortices in personal moral decision-making, implying greater emotional and self-processing. Higher conscientiousness and intellect and lower behavioral activation were associated with greater difference in oscillatory responses between utilitarian and non-utilitarian choices in personal than in impersonal condition, indicating that sensitivity to moral issues and the ability to grasp the nuances of moral situation are essential for understanding the implications of utilitarian choices in personal and impersonal conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-248
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Neuroscience
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2016


  • Connectivity
  • EEG
  • Moral dilemmas
  • Personality
  • Source localization




Dive into the research topics of 'Oscillatory correlates of moral decision-making: Effect of personality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this