Emotions, Moral Choice Linked in Study Watching Brain Activity

Brain activity in a region tied to human emotion may help prompt people to be fair rather than efficient in handing out rewards and burdens, say researchers aiming to understand the inspiration behind moral actions, Bloomberg reported.

U.S. scientists used imaging technology to measure the brain activity of 26 adults asked to make decisions about how to allocate meals to orphans. The researchers found that the stronger the activity was in the insula, a part of the brain associated with emotions, the more likely participants were to fairly spread the meals among the children.

Philosophers and economists have long debated why people make moral decisions. So-called moral sentimentalists, such as Adam Smith, argue that the distribution of goods is often rooted in empathy. Others, such as Plato, emphasize reason. This study, reported in the journal Science, suggests that emotion outweighs reason when fairness is at issue, said Michael Gill, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Arizona.

``There seems, at least initially, to be pretty good reason to think that when we make moral judgments, it's based on our emotions,'' said Gill, who was not associated with the study, in a telephone interview yesterday. ``That seems to suggest the sentimentalists are right.''

The trial was led by Steven Quartz of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Trial participants were told that hungry children in an orphanage would receive 24 meals. Researchers then said some meals would have to be cut from the program.

Participants could choose to take 15 meals from one child, or 13 meals from one child and 5 from another. The subjects had their brains scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging, while they weighed choosing the efficient option, which removed 15 meals from one child, or the more equitable, which removed a total of 18 meals from two children.

The subjects mostly chose the equitable option, with only 3 or 4 choosing efficiency, said Quartz. Those who chose the equitable option always displayed more activity in the insula.

``What this suggests is that when you see unfairness, it really bothers you, it makes you feel negative about it, and that reaction pushes you away from unfairness,'' said Quartz, an associate professor in the division of humanities and social sciences, in a telephone interview. ``Emotions seem to keep us in check, and some people don't get this response as strongly.''

Donations were actually made by the researchers, because Quartz and his team wanted to make sure people felt morally compelled by the problem. Subjects donated $87 on average, for a total of $2,279. It's not clear that people behave the same way in hypothetical situations and in life, so the researchers used real money in order to get real choices, Quartz said.

Morality is important for people's motivation, and often inspires action, said Gill. One of 18th-century Scottish philosopher David Hume's more important ethical arguments on the subject says that morality influences conduct, and in order to act, people need motives, which often stem from sentiment, Gill said.

The degree to which people feel a social program ought to be fair could be rooted in this response, Quartz said. A future avenue of research could explore the degree to which insula response influences political motivation, he said.

New apartments inagurated in Iran
New apartments inagurated in Iran
Azerbaijan's overall exports for 9M2020 unveiled
Azerbaijan's overall exports for 9M2020 unveiled
CO2 emissions prevented in Kazakhstan as renewable energy projects launched
CO2 emissions prevented in Kazakhstan as renewable energy projects launched
Loading Bars
Turkey's 9M2020 export of jewelry to Ukraine doubles
Azerbaijani artillerymen continue to make precise strikes at firing points of Armenian armed forces (VIDEO)
Tender: Khazar Consortium to buy materials for smooth operation of oil field facilities
Int'l organizations miscalculate military arsenal of Armenia - MP
Turkmengas opens tender for purchase of equipment
Uzbekistan’s 9M2020 export volume of fruits, vegetables revealed
MagtiCom leads with highest ARPU rate in Georgia
New apartments inagurated in Iran
Azerbaijan's overall exports for 9M2020 unveiled
Kazakhstan to increase electric vehicles manufacturing by 2022
CO2 emissions prevented in Kazakhstan as renewable energy projects launched
Revenues of mobile operators in Georgia down
Uzbekneftegaz launches condensate stabilization unit at Uzbek oil field
Azerbaijani Embassy in Russia clarifying issue on prohibiting Azerbaijani citizens to use Pobeda Airlines' services
Uzbekistan launches mineral-based engine oil production
Trend News Agency's editor-in-chief tells CNN Turk about ongoing tension in Karabakh (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Russia almost halves jewelry imports from Turkey
Azerbaijan’s AzerGold taking measures on legal assessment of illegal mining in occupied territories
Azerbaijan starts reconstructing roads leading to liberated villages of Tartar (PHOTOS)
Georgian Caucasus Auto Import adds new export markets
USAID promotes warehouse digitization of Turkmen logistics company
Uzbekistan eyes to increase cars export by 4Q2020
Uzbekistan’s private business actively involved in agriculture digitalization
Sanctions must be imposed on Armenia, says Lebanese legal expert
Attacking civilians unacceptable, Israeli ambassador says
Armenia opens additional flights to transfer volunteers to Karabakh (PHOTO)
Number of people infected with COVID-19 pandemic in Iran exceeds 550,000
Azerbaijan's president says Armenia receiving external help, including mercenaries, weaponry
Your statements every evening about how many villages, cities have been liberated from occupation bring joy to people all over Turkey - Turkish Chief Ombudsman
Azerbaijan confirms 171 more COVID-19 recoveries
Turkmenistan's import of Turkish jewelry surges
Value of Azerbaijan's goods export by road edges down
Those unwilling to fight in Armenia buy positive coronavirus test at $1,000-2,000
There is not single surviving building in liberated cities, in these villages, in most of them - Azerbaijani president
Media of many countries unilaterally side with Armenia - President Aliyev
Israel's ambassador to Azerbaijan visits Ganja, witnesses damages following Armenia's attack (PHOTO)
We have never taken and will never take any action against civilians, says Azerbaijani president
By breaking back of Armenian fascism, we save our region from great tragedies - President Aliyev
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price rebounds
Georgia, Japan sign double taxation avoidance agreement
Volume of investments to be made to Iran's Khuzestan Province growing
Auto sales drop on Georgian market
Gasoline demand to decline from 2030
Volume of cargo freight via Azerbaijani ports continues to grow
Turkmenistan forecasts total revenues, expenditures of country's financial plan for 2021
EBRD supports refurbishment of wastewater facilities in Kazakhstan's Shymkent
COVID-19 may accelerate downward trends in oil consumption of developed economies
Uzbekistan boosts jewelry import from Turkey
Azerbaijani Central Bank unveils amount of foreign currency sold to local banks
Oil demand has yet to peak for two key reasons
Karabakh conflict should be settled on issues of boundary lines, sovereignty issues - US Ambassador to NATO
Armenians fire at Azerbaijan’s Gabala and Kurdamir cities by using Elbrus ballistic missiles (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan-Russia strategic partnership to reach high level
'NATO not part of Karabakh conflict', Stoltenberg tells Armenia
Azerbaijan shows video footage of captured military equipment of Armenian Armed Forces (VIDEO)
Gold, silver prices in Azerbaijan down
Armenian servicemen refusing to fight, says Azerbaijani MoD
National Bank of Georgia talks about 3 key challenges in financial sector
Armenia must leave occupied Azerbaijani lands, says Turkish president's aide
Uzbekistan to increase electricity supply to Afghanistan
Civilian wounded from Armenian Armed Forces' missile attack on Azerbaijan's Gabala
Turkmenistan to take measures to increase volume of domestic production
Russian businessmen intend to expand their activities in Azerbaijan
Georgia's gov't places funds on term deposits at commercial banks
Turkish export of jewelry to Kyrgyzstan decreases
Gold producing plant to introduce environment preserving technology in Kazakhstan's Zhambyl
Pashinyan's Facebook post on "shortcut to victory" ridiculed by Arab readers (PHOTOS)
Mineral reserves of deoccupied Azerbaijani territories will be recalculated - MENR
Deeper recession averted in Azerbaijan, says CBA chairman
Uzbekistan, India in talks over bilateral co-op in healthcare sphere
Pashinyan's statement on absence of diplomatic settlement for Karabakh conflict reveals Armenia's intentions
Azerbaijan's exports to Russia climbs
Turkmenistan plans to attract investment for lending to industries
Kazakhstan’s oil producing company opens tender to buy spares
Kazakhstan's coal extracting venture to buy pumps via tender
Uzbekistan's foreign trade turnover decrease for 9M2020
COVID-19 cases exceed 22,500 in Georgia
Azerbaijani Access Bank's total assets up
SOCAR starts gas supplies to Turkey’s major tourist destination
Azerbaijani MFA comments on Armenian prime minister saying there is no diplomatic solution to Karabakh conflict
Former Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina appears in popular TV programs to discuss situation in Nagorno-Karabakh
Value of jewelry exports from Turkey to Kazakhstan rise
LUKOIL actively working on production of hard-to-recover reserves
Iran Khodro Automaker Company increases its manufacturing
Citrus harvest begins in Georgian Adjara
Italy hikes import of jewelry from Turkey in September 2020
Missiles fired at Gabala launched from Gafan and Jermuk regions of Armenia, says assistant to Azerbaijani president (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan starts repairing sub-artesian wells in liberated lands
Ministry of Defense Industry continues production of combat UAVs for Azerbaijani army (PHOTO)
LUKOIL to apply integrated management technology in over 80 fields
Volume of exported isogam construction product from Turkmenistan revealed
IMF talks about Georgia's economic growth prospects
Azerbaijani oil prices decline
Update on implementation of gas processing project in Uzbekistan’s Gazli
Amazon announces $100 million logistics investment in Mexico
Azerbaijan's relations with Russia in agro-industrial complex entering new dev't stage
British Airways-owner IAG reports 1.3 billion euro loss in third quarter
Low-cost air company Ryanair not to commence flights in Georgia
Armenian ban on import of Turkish goods not to impact Turkey's economy, says Turkish government
President Ilham Aliyev receives Turkish Chief Ombudsman (PHOTO)
All news