Regardless of whether we condemn the villain in a movie or experiencing a personal insult, everyday we give something or someone a moral evaluation. From the point of view of neuropsychology, the act’s moral assessment of the situation is incredibly complex and has much in common with intentionality. However, that if the offender did not want to commit a terrible act? Do we justify it? A new study examined the neuroanatomical basis of forgiveness, writes likar.info.
In their new study, GA Silane from the University of Vienna examined the reactions of the human brain, or rather his superior temporal sulcus, in particular information from the outside.
As the scientists explain, the Mature moral judgment on the wrongful act is not just about the damage, but also takes into consideration the intention and mental state of the offender. When between these components there is an obvious contradiction, often, the intention is placed above the result of the action.
The study showed that in the event of contradictions between intention and result of action during the formation of judgments, people tend to focus on the intent. This figure is considered a universal sign of a Mature moral judgments in many cultures. However, it was necessary to examine this aspect from the anatomical point of view, to understand whether the differences in the volume and structure of certain brain areas to explain differences in moral judgments.
The researchers asked 50 participants to make a moral evaluation of the 36 unique stories with four possible outcomes. After reading the stories participants were asked questions, by which they could assess the situation – how morally acceptable the behaviour of the person and how strong his guilt to the crime.
During the experiment, brain activity of the participants were analyzed using voxel morphometry – the methods of neuroimaging, which allows for a holistic analysis of the changes in the brain, while maintaining a high degree of specificity of concrete region.
The researchers also used brain imaging to localize the neural regions responsible for mentalization a person’s ability to correctly assess the mental state (beliefs, intentions and desires) of others based on their behavior.
As a result, scientists identified a link between differences in degree of moral judgments about unintentional harm and the volume of the left part of the brain. The greater the volume of gray matter in the superior temporal sulcus, the less condemned unintentional crimes.
Thus, we can conclude: people with well-developed upper temporal sulcus is less likely to be condemned.