A Bad Taste in the Mouth
Gustatory Disgust Influences Moral Judgment
Kendall J. Eskine1,2,
Natalie A. Kacinik1,2 and
Jesse J. Prinz1
+ Author Affiliations
1The Graduate Center, City University of New York
2Brooklyn College, City University of New York
Kendall J. Eskine, Department of Psychology, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, 2900 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11210 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Can sweet-tasting substances trigger kind, favorable judgments about other people? What about substances that are disgusting and bitter? Various studies have linked physical disgust to moral disgust, but despite the rich and sometimes striking findings these studies have yielded, no research has explored morality in conjunction with taste, which can vary greatly and may differentially affect cognition. The research reported here tested the effects of taste perception on moral judgments. After consuming a sweet beverage, a bitter beverage, or water, participants rated a variety of moral transgressions. Results showed that taste perception significantly affected moral judgments, such that physical disgust (induced via a bitter taste) elicited feelings of moral disgust. Further, this effect was more pronounced in participants with politically conservative views than in participants with politically liberal views. Taken together, these differential findings suggest that embodied gustatory experiences may affect moral processing more than previously thought.
via A Bad Taste in the Mouth.
via A Bad Taste in the Mouth.
“in a murder case in Pune, in Maharashtra State, that a judge explicitly cited a scan as proof that the suspect’s brain held “experiential knowledge” about the crime that only the killer could possess, sentencing her to life in prison.
This latest Indian attempt at getting past criminals’ natural defenses begins with an electroencephalogram, or EEG, in which electrodes are placed on the head to measure electrical waves. The suspect sits in silence, eyes shut. An investigator reads aloud details of the crime — as prosecutors see it — and the resulting brain images are processed using software built in Bangalore.
The software tries to detect whether, when the crime’s details are recited, the brain lights up in specific regions — the areas that, according to the technology’s inventors, show measurable changes when experiences are relived, their smells and sounds summoned back to consciousness. The inventors of the technology claim the system can distinguish between peoples’ memories of events they witnessed and between deeds they committed.”
If they do it well this is very encouraging.
“People often act on behalf of others. They do so without immediate personal gain, at cost to themselves, and even toward unfamiliar individuals. Many researchers have claimed that such altruism emanates from a species-unique psychology not found in humans’ closest living evolutionary relatives, such as the chimpanzee. In favor of this view, the few experimental studies on altruism in chimpanzees have produced mostly negative results. In contrast, we report experimental evidence that chimpanzees perform basic forms of helping in the absence of rewards spontaneously and repeatedly toward humans and conspecifics. In two comparative studies, semi–free ranging chimpanzees helped an unfamiliar human to the same degree as did human infants, irrespective of being rewarded (experiment 1) or whether the helping was costly (experiment 2). In a third study, chimpanzees helped an unrelated conspecific gain access to food in a novel situation that required subjects to use a newly acquired skill on behalf of another individual. These results indicate that chimpanzees share crucial aspects of altruism with humans, suggesting that the roots of human altruism may go deeper than previous experimental evidence suggested.”
Citation: Warneken F, Hare B, Melis AP, Hanus D, Tomasello M (2007) Spontaneous Altruism by Chimpanzees and Young Children. PLoS Biol 5(7): e184 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0050184
Received: February 8, 2007; Accepted: May 14, 2007; Published: June 26, 2007
Link: BBC NEWS | Health | ‘Altruistic’ brain region found.
Scientists say they have found the part of the brain that predicts whether a person will be selfish or an altruist.
Altruism – the tendency to help others without obvious benefit to oneself – appears to be linked to an area called the posterior superior temporal sulcus.
Using brain scans, the US investigators found this region related to a person’s real-life unselfish behaviour.
The Duke University Medical Center study on 45 volunteers is published in Nature Neuroscience.
Comment: But which is the cause and which is the effect?