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.
- Moral dilemmas
- Source localization