Poster Session E, Monday, March 25, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Pacific Concourse
Social values modulate culture-related and individual differences in neural correlates of moral decision making: A cross-cultural functional MRI study
Yang Chen Lin1, Robert Doole1, Hsu-Wen Huang2, Chih-Mao Huang1,3; 1National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu, Taiwan, 2City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 3Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica, Taiwan
Moral cognition is crucial for social interaction and prosocial behavior. It involves unconscious and deliberate decision-making processes of cognitive and affective mentalizing systems to evaluate an (in)appropriate behavior and social harmony. In the present study, we investigate how social values (i.e., independence and interdependence) modulate culture-related and individual differences in behavioral outcomes as well as neural substrates of moral decision making. Sixteen young Taiwanese participants (8 males, mean = 23.75) and 16 young Western participants (9 males, mean = 24.81 SD = 2.97) were recruited in this cross-cultural functional magnetic resonance imaging study and were instructed to perform the modified version of moral evaluation to make a good/bad evaluation of an intentional action after presenting a set of visual scene that depicts social interactions between individuals. The social values, characterizing participants into independence or interdependence, was assessed by individual’s self-report on the Singelis Self-construal Scale (SCS; Singelis, 1994). Taiwanese participants had higher SCS scores in interdependence than their Western counterparts (Taiwanese:5.75; Westerners: -1.81; P<0.001). A whole-brain fMRI analysis revealed that both Taiwanese and Westerners recruited brain activation in inferior frontal gyrus, anterior cingulate cortex, posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS/TPJ), and hippocampus, indicating a culture-invariant neural network for moral decision making. Moreover, regions of interest (ROIs) analysis showed a significant correlation between social values (independence vs. interdependence) and fMRI signal measured in right TPJ, with higher social score for greater TPJ activation. Our results provide neuroimaging evidence that socio-cultural orientations affect individual differences in evaluation processes during moral decision making.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Other