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By Jana Schaich Borg (Stanford University)

and Walter Sinnott-Armstong (Duke University)
Psychoaths are notorious for erforming actions that almost everyone else !elieves are
grossly immoral" Why do sychoaths !ehave that #ay$ %ne ossi!ility is that sychoaths do
not !elieve that #hat they do is immoral" &f so' they lack cognitive a#areness or understanding of
#hat is immoral" Another ossi!ility is that sychoaths kno# their acts are immoral' !ut they
simly do not care" &n other #ords' erhas they vie# morality the same #ay eole #ho seed
vie# seed limit la#s( they kno# it)s #rong' !ut that kno#ledge is not enough to inhi!it their
desire to seed or their imlementation of !reaking the la#" &f so' they lack aroriate moral
motivation' !ut have normal moral reasoning" %ther e*lanations might e*ist for sychoaths)
!ehavior and the a!ove e*lanations might !oth !e right to some e*tent' ossi!ly' for e*amle'
!ecause sychoaths are only dimly a#are of immorality and that is artly #hy they do not care
a!out it as much as normal eole do" +o#ever' these e*lanations are often discussed as the
rimary ossi!le reasons for sychoaths) !ehavior' and many interdiscilinary academic
de!ates have gro#n out of efforts to determine #hich e*lanation is most likely to !e true"
,he la# might care a!out the issue of #hether sychoaths act immorally !ecause of a
lack of moral reasoning or a lack of moral motivation for several reasons" -irst' the resolution
might affect #hether sychoaths are legally (or morally) resonsi!le for their misconduct" ,he
most oular versions of the insanity defense make a defendant)s resonsi!ility deend in art on
#hether the defendant .did not kno# that #hat he #as doing #as #rong/
or .lacks su!stantial
caacity 1 to areciate the #rongfulness of his conduct"/
,hese legal rules are oen to various
!ut they seem to make the a!ility to carry out normal moral reasoning relevant to
criminal resonsi!ility" &f sychoaths cannot reason that #hat they are doing is #rong' they
might 4ualify for one of these versions of the insanity defense" Second' the a!ility of
sychoaths to make normal moral 5udgments might also !e relevant to redictions of future
crime" 6learly' someone #ho cannot tell that an act is immoral might !e more likely to do it
again' thus sychoaths) moral a!ilities might !e relevant to ho# they should !e sentenced"

,hird' #hether sychoaths can tell right from #rong or' instead' can tell the difference !ut do
not care could direct treatment of sychoaths !y secifying #hich deficit8cognitive'
emotional' or motivational8needs to !e treated"
&t might also affect #hether sychoaths
should !e legally re4uired to undergo treatment' as some deficits might !e easier to treat than
others" ,hus' for la# as #ell as for science' it is imortant to determine #hether sychoaths can
make or areciate moral 5udgments"
Regina v. MNaghten' 0; 6l" < -in" 2;;' = >ng" ?e" @0A at @22 (0A73)
American Ba# &nstitute' Model Penal Code (PhiladelhiaC ,he American Ba# &nstitute' -inal
Draft' 0=:2)' D 7";0(0)
See Sinnott-Armstrong < Bevy 2;0; as #ell as the chaters !y Bitton and Pills!ury in this
See the chaters on recidivism !y ?ice and +arris and !y >dens' Eagyar' and 6o* in this
See the chater on treatment !y 6ald#ell in this volume"
&n hilosohy' this issue also affects (a) #hether sychoaths are countere*amles to
internalism' one version of #hich claims that anyone #ho !elieves an act is immoral #ill !e
motivated not to do it' and (!) #hether sychoaths reveal limits on eistemic 5ustification for
&n this chater' #e #ill revie# the scientific evidence for and against the claim that
sychoaths have fully intact moral reasoning and 5udgment" At this oint the literature suggests
that sychoaths have only very nuanced moral cognition deficits' if any" +o#ever' as #ill
!ecome clear' fe# firm conclusions can !e reached a!out moral cognition in sychoaths
#ithout further research" %ne reason is that so far there is very little data e*amining moral
5udgment' !elief' or decision-making in sychoaths" Another reason is that sychoaths are
often athological liars' so it is hard to determine #hat they really !elieve" Additional o!stacles
arise !ecause different researchers have used inconsistent criteria for diagnosing sychoathy
and !ecause fe# scientific tests of moral 5udgment or !elief are esta!lished" ,o interret the
literature' then' it is critical that !oth sychoathy and moral 5udgments !e defined"
What is a psychopath?
Psychoathy is rimarily diagnosed using the .Psychoathy 6hecklist F ?evised/ or the
,he P6B-? is a semi-structured intervie# that assesses intervie#ees on t#enty
ersonality dimensions' all of #hich can !e divided into t#o searate factors( -actor 0' #hich
reflects affective and interersonal traits' and -actor 2' #hich reflects antisocial and unsta!le
lifestyle ha!its" -actor 0 can further !e !roken u into 2 facets( -acet 0' reresenting
interersonal traits' and -acet 2' reresenting affective traits" -actor 2 can !e !roken u into
-acet 3' reresenting an imulsive lifestyle' and -acet 7' reresenting antisocial !ehavior" ,he
intervie#' itself' is sulemented !y a full !ackground check that can validate any information
rovided !y the intervie#ee"
,here is still much de!ate over #hether sychoathy is a categorical disorder or a
sectrum disorder' !ut clinically a sychoath is defined as anyone #ho scores 3; or a!ove on
the P6B-?" ,hat said' as clinicians #ho have intervie#ed sychoaths can attest' there is
something 4ualitatively very different a!out sychoaths #ho score 37 or a!ove comared to
those #ho score around 3;" +are notes this imression and descri!es those #ho score 37 or
a!ove as .high sychoaths/ (+are' ?" D" (0==0)" ,he +are Psychoathy 6hecklist ?evised"
,oronto' %ntario' 6anada( Eulti-+ealth SystemsC +are' ?" D" (2;;3)" ,he +are Psychoathy
6hecklist ?evised FSecond >dition" ,oronto' %ntario' 6anada( Eulti-+ealth Systems)"
Unfortunately' most u!lished studies of moral decision-making in sychoaths have very fe#' if
any' articiants #ho score a!ove 3;' and many studies re-define .sychoath/ to indicate a
significantly lo#er P6B-? score" Eoreover' almost no studies have articiants #ho score a!ove
37" ,his means that moral decision-making has !een assessed very little in the highest-scoring
sychoaths #hom clinicians differentiate from other sychoaths"
Another difficulty to kee in mind is that older studies' !efore the P6B-?' often assessed
sychoathy #ith the Einnesota Eultihasic Personality &nventory (EEP&)" &n contrast to the
P6B-?' the EEP& is !ased only on measures of self-reorts rovided !y the intervie#ee" Self-
reorts !y sychoaths are ro!lematic !ecause sychoaths are athological liars"
the relevant scores on the EEP& have not !een found to correlate #ell #ith scores on the P6B-
?' esecially #ith P6B-? -actor 0 (%) Gane et al"' 0==:")" ,hus' studies that use the EEP& to
assess sychoathy might not !e measuring the same oulation as studies that use the P6B-?"
,hat makes it challenging to comare results of studies that use these different diagnostic tests"
moral claims !y sho#ing that rational eole can understand !ut still not accet those claims"
See the chater on assessment !y -orth' Bo' and Gongerslev in this volume"
See the chater on self-reort measures !y -o#ler and Bilienfeld in this volume"
&n summary' it is good ractice to ask the follo#ing 4uestions #hen assessing the
literature currently availa!le on sychoathy and moral decision-making( 0) #as the P6B-? (or
an acceted derivative) used to assess sychoathy$ &f not' the oulation !eing descri!ed may
!e dramatically different from a clinical sychoathicoulation" 2) &f the P6B-? #as used' ho#
many articiants scored a 3; or a!ove (or 37 and a!ove)$ &f none' the oulation !eing
descri!ed does not in fact contain any clinical sychoaths"
What is a moa! "#$%m&'t?
When eole talk a!out moral 5udgment' sometimes they refer in the singular to the
faculty of moral 5udgment or the a!ility to make articular moral 5udgments" Sometimes they
talk a!stractly a!out good moral 5udgment' as #hen they say that #e need good 5udgment in
order to resolve difficult moral dilemmas" And sometimes they refer to the roosition that is the
o!5ect of moral 5udgment (that is' #hat is !elieved #hen one sincerely makes that moral
5udgment)' as #hen they say that a common moral 5udgment is that theft is immoral" &n our
discussion' ho#ever' #e #ill refer to the mental state or event of 5udging that some act'
institution' or erson is morally #rong or right' good or !ad' !ecause #e !elieve this is the asect
of moral 5udgment that is most likely to !e relevant to la#"
With regard to moral 5udgment so understood' there are still a coule theoretical issues
that can make it controversial to decide #hat should !e included as moral 5udgment" %ne
fundamental 4uestion is #hether any .moral sense/ or .moral module/ is universal across
cultures and tyes of eole" Eoral sychologists and hilosohers have not converged on an
ans#er to this 4uestion" >ven those #ho argue for some universal morality rarely secify ho# to
determine #hich arts of morality are fundamental or universal as oosed to culturally la!ile"
As a conse4uence' it is 4uestiona!le for the la# or anyone else to assume that all .reasona!le/
eole #ill 5udge that any articular act is immoral" &n addition' emirical studies of moral
5udgment #ill need to !e sensitive to otential individual or cultural variations in !eliefs a!out
Another ro!lem is that' even if there is a universal moral sense' that sense is not unified"
-or e*amle' some moral 5udgments are !ased on harm and are associated #ith anger' #hereas
other moral 5udgments are a!out imurity (such as incest or canni!alism) and are associated #ith
disgust (Schaich Borg' Bie!erman' and Giehl 2;;A and Parkinson et al" su!mitted)" Eoral
5udgments a!out different kinds of acts can also re4uire different cognitive a!ilities" Some moral
5udgments re4uire one to understand another erson)s intentions' for e*amle' #hile other moral
5udgments re4uire one to calculate and #eigh conse4uences (6ushman' 6ognition 0;A (2;;A)
393F3A;)" &f a erson lacks the a!ility for theory of mind' such as in autism' then he may !e
incaa!le of resonding aroriately in the first tye of 5udgment !ut erfectly caa!le of
making the second tye of 5udgment" Someone #ho has trou!le understanding 4uantities or
doing !asic math' in contrast' might have the reverse ro!lem" As a result' a given cognitive
deficit can affect some moral 5udgments !ut not others or it can affect a certain moral 5udgment
in only some situations !ut not all others" ,his variation is imortant for criminal la#' !ecause
the legal system needs to use a moral assessment that is aroriately matched to the cognitive
re4uirements of the crime(s) under consideration"
When evaluating reorts of moral 5udgment in sychoaths' it is also crucial not to
conflate moral 5udgment #ith moral feelings or emotion" &n this chater' #e #ill !e discussing
sychoaths) moral 5udgments or !eliefs and their alication to articular real or hyothetical
situations' not the feelings or emotions that accomany those moral 5udgments" &t is ossi!le to
have moral 5udgments #ithout morally-relevant emotions" ,his haens #hen eole are
convinced !y arguments that certain acts are immoral' !ut don)t yet have emotions that are
consistent #ith those arguments or their moral !eliefs"
-or e*amle' some eole might really
5udge that it is morally #rong to eat meat' !ut not feel any associated comunction or guilt #hen
eating meat" %n the other hand' it is also ossi!le to have morally-relevant emotions #ithout
relevant moral 5udgments" Peole #ho #ere raised as Eormon' for e*amle' might feel guilty
#hile drinking coffee #ithout really !elieving that they are doing anything morally #rong" ,hey
have real guilt feelings' !ut they do not endorse those feelings as 5ustified' so they do not make a
moral 5udgment in the sense that is relevant to this chater or to the la#"
,his distinction !ecomes articularly imortant #hen considering the relevance of
sychoaths) emathic deficits to their a!ility to make moral 5udgments" ,he a!ility to
emathiHe is not functionally' neurologically' or sychologically the same as the a!ility to 5udge
that something is morally #rong' nor is it the same as the a!ility to guide one)s action in accord
#ith a moral 5udgment" A erson #ho does not resond emotionally to another erson in ain
still might !e a!le to make aroriate 5udgments a!out #hether it is #rong to cause ain in
another erson" &ndeed' a recent study found no correlation !et#een emathy (as oosed to
theory of mind) and a#areness that a situation has moral or ethical imlications' #illingness to
use utilitarian or non-utilitarian !ased rules in moral 5udgments' or the likelihood of agreement
#ith a given verdict in a moral scenario (Eencl and Eay' 2;;=)" ,herefore' in Ba# and
Ieuroscience discussions it #ill !e imortant to enforce definitions of moral 5udgment that do
not include emathy" ,hat said' it is #orth !riefly digressing to revie# the evidence that
sychoaths are deficient in emathy" Because they likely contri!ute to asects of sychoath)s
!ehavior (emathy does correlate #ith ro-social !ehavior' esecially #hen fe# conscious moral
rules are in lace' e"g" Batson' 0==0' 2;00)' these emathic deficits may still !e of interest to la#'
even if they don)t necessarily contri!ute to moral 5udgment' er se"
Profound lack of emathy is one of the diagnostic criteria for sychoathy' and therefore
almost !y definition' esecially high-scoring sychoaths #ill have emathic deficits" ,o
determine #hy this might !e the case and to rovide a 4uantitative measure of their deficit' four
studies have measured adult sychoaths) galvanic skin resonses #hile they #ere o!serving
eole in hysical distress" ,he galvanic skin resonse techni4ue does not measure emathy
directly' !ut it does measure ho# much arousal one feels #hen o!serving another in distress
#hich is hyothesiHed to !e an imortant art of an emathetic resonse" ,#o of the four studies
found that sychoaths sho# little to no change in skin resistance in resonse to o!serving a
confederate get shocked (Aniskie#icH' 0=@=C +ouse < Eilligan' 0=@:)" A third study found that
sychoaths actually sho# increased changes in skin resistance in resonse to o!serving a
confederate get shocked (Sutker' 0=@;)" +o#ever' these first three studies assessed sychoathy
#ith the EEP&' rather than the P6B-?" ,he only study to emloy the P6B-? #hile e*amining
galvanic skin resonses to other eole in hysical distress suorted the negative results of the
first t#o EEP& studies" ,his study used 0A sychoaths (scoring 3; or higher on the P6B-?)
and 0A non-sychoaths (scoring 2; or lo#er on the P6B-?) and found that sychoaths
demonstrated significant galvanic skin resonses to ictures of distress cues (that is' a icture of
a grou of crying adults or a close-u of a crying face)' !ut these resonses #ere much reduced
&n hilosohy' emotivists and sentimentalists claim that emotion and sentiment are someho#
essential to moral 5udgment' !ut they can and must allo# some moral 5udgments #ithout any
resent emotion (Joyce 2;;A)"
comared to those in non-sychoaths (Blair et al"' 0==@)" ,hese studies together suggest that
sychoaths are less aroused than non-sychoaths #hen they o!serve others in ain or

,o reiterate' sychoaths) emathy deficits might e*lain the actions that characteriHe
sychoathy' !ut neither sychoaths) lack of emathy nor their immoral !ehavior sho#s that
sychoaths do not make normal moral 5udgments" ,hey may still !e a!le to make and !elieve
normal moral 5udgments' !ut lack the mechanism that translates this cognitive a!ility into normal
emotions or motivations to avoid immoral actions" &n the rest of this chater #e #ill only revie#
evidence a!out #hether sychoaths have the a!ility to make normal moral 5udgments" ?eaders
should kee in mind that' ho#ever' even if sychoaths have that cognitive a!ility' they likely
have imairments in emathy and emotions as #ell as in motivation and the a!ility to translate
their moral 5udgments into action"
Ho( psychopaths p&)om o' moa! "#$%m&'t t&sts
After these reliminaries' #e are no# ready to revie# the literature assessing moral
5udgments !y sychoaths" Although many relevant studies have !een imlemented in
adolescents' the construct of sychoathy is not as #ell defined in adolescents' and the relevant
legal issues are also comlicated !y their 5uvenile status" ,herefore' the studies descri!ed !elo#
#ill !e confined to studies testing adults"
>mirical studies of moral 5udgments vary dramatically in their assumtions and
measurements" ,he field of Ba# and Ieuroscience #ill need to decide #hether any of these tasks
ade4uately inde* the a!ility to .kno#/ or .areciate/ #hat is legally #rong as referenced !y the
E)Iaghten ?ule or the Eodel Penal 6ode (cited in notes 0-2)" ,o facilitate such reflection' this
chater #ill rovide crucial details a!out the secific tests that are used to assess the relationshi
!et#een sychoathy and morality' so that in each case it #ill !e as clear as ossi!le #hat the
study indicates a!out any legally-relevant a!ilities"
Kohlbergian tests of moral reasoning
Moral Judgment Interview. %ne of the first esta!lished measures of moral 5udgment #as
Ba#rence Gohl!erg)s .Eoral Judgment &ntervie#/ (EJ&C Gohl!erg 0=9A)" &n the EJ&'
articiants are asked to resolve comle* moral dilemmas in an intervie# format during #hich
e*erimenters make attemts to dissuade su!5ects a#ay from their 5udgments" ,he goal is to
determine not #hich moral 5udgment is reached after deli!eration (meaning not #hich
conclusion' resolution' or verdict is reached) !ut rather #hich tyes of reasons eole give to
suort their moral conclusions (the 5ustification or reasoning)" &n other #ords' the critical
varia!le for Gohl!erg is why articiants 5udge something to !e morally right or #rong in these
dilemmas' not what they 5udge to !e morally right or #rong"
,he reasons that articiants give for their resolutions in the EJ& are divided into three
ma5or successive levels' each #ith t#o su!-levels" ,he first level' called .re-conventional/
reasoning' comrises reasons !ased on immediate conse4uences to oneself (via re#ard or
unishment)" ,he second level' called .conventional/ reasoning' comrises reasons !ased on the
e*ectations of social grous and society" ,he third level' called .ost-conventional/ reasoning'
%ther studies have also sho#n that sychoaths have a selective imairment in recogniHing
and rocessing sad or fearful faces (Blair' 2;;9)"
comrises reasons !ased on relatively a!stract moral rinciles indeendent from rules' la#' or
authority" &mortantly' Post-conventional reasoning can reflect either utilitarian or deontological
rinciles or !oth" Gohl!erg argues that individuals and cultures advance through these stages in
a set order and also that later levels of moral reasoning reflect !etter moral reasoning than earlier
levels (Gohl!erg' 0=@3)"
%nly one study has tested ho# adult sychoaths score on the Eoral Judgment &ntervie#"
Bink et al" (0=@@) administered 7 of Gohl!erg)s dilemmas to 0: sychoathic inmates' 0: non-
sychoathic inmates' and 0: non-inmate emloyees from the same 6anadian facility" &n this
study' sychoathy #as assessed using the EEP&' not the P6B-?" 6ontrary to some
e*ectations' the authors reort that sychoaths had improved moral reasoning comared to
!oth control grous" Psychoaths offered 3:J (K";0) and 9J (K";9) more stage 9 ost-
conventional 5ustifications than incarcerated non-sychoaths and hosital emloyees'
resectively' desite no significant differences in age' &L' or education" +o#ever' it is not clear
ho# this inmate oulate #ould score on the P6B-?' so it is inaroriate to dra# any
conclusions a!out the a!ility of sychoaths' as they are understood today' to score on the EJ&"
efining Issues !est. ,he most #idely used derivative of the Gohl!erg Eoral Judgment
&ntervie# is the Defining &ssues ,est (D&,) (?est et al"' 0=@7)" ,he D&, resents articiants #ith
: dilemmas derived from Gohl!erg)s EJ&' the most famous of #hich is this(
+>&IM AID ,+> D?UN (from ?est 0=@=)
&n >uroe a #oman #as near death from a secial kind of cancer" ,here #as one drug
that doctors thought might save her" &t #as a form of radium that a druggist in the same
to#n had recently discovered" ,he drug #as e*ensive to make' !ut the druggist #as
charging ten times #hat the drug cost to make" +e aid O2;; for the radium and charged
O2';;; for a small dose of the drug" ,he sick #omanPs hus!and' +einH' #ent to everyone
he kne# to !orro# the money' !ut he could only get together a!out O0';;;' #hich is half
of #hat it cost" +e told the druggist that his #ife #as dying' and asked him to sell it
cheaer or let him ay later" But the druggist said' QIo' & discovered the drug and &Pm
going to make money on it"Q So +einH got deserate and !egan to think a!out !reaking
into the manPs store to steal the drug for his #ife"
"hould #ein$ steal the drug% &&"hould "teal &&Can't e(ide &&"hould not steal
>ach scenario is follo#ed !y a list of 02 considerations" Particiants are asked to rate each
consideration for its imortance in making their moral 5udgment' and then select the four most
imortant considerations and rank-order them from one to four" >ach consideration secifically
reresents one of Gohl!erg)s si* moral stages" +ere are some e*amles(
Whether the la# in the case is getting in the #ay of the most !asic claim of any mem!er
of society"
Whether a communityPs la#s are going to !e uheld"
What values are going to !e the !asis for governing ho# eole act to#ards each other"
Would stealing in such a case !ring a!out more total good for the #hole society or not"
,he most commonly used metric in scoring the D&, is the P-score' ranging from ; to =9' #hich
reresents the roortion of the four selected considerations that aeal to Gohl!erg)s Eoral
Stages 9 and :" &t has !een suggested (?est' 0=A:!) that eole can !e considered !roadly as
those #ho make rinciled moral 5udgments (P-score R 9;) and those #ho do not (P-score K 7=)"
A correlation of ;":A has !een reorted !et#een the scores of the D&, and Gohl!erg)s more
comle* EJ& (%PGane et al"' 0==:)" %f note' the verdicts of the 5udgments themselves are not
assessed or reorted in any #ay in this test"
,#o studies have e*amined the relationshi !et#een P6B-? and D&, scores" %)Gane et
al" (0==:) found no correlation !et#een total P6B-? scores and P-scores in 7; incarcerated
individuals in a British rison once &L #as accounted for" +o#ever' the mean P6B-? score #as
fairly lo# (09) and only one inmate scored a!ove 3;" -urthermore' no !et#een-grou
comarisons #ere reorted !et#een lo# vs" high scorers" ,hese results #ere consistent #ith the
results in an American samle of inmates (%PGane et al"' 0==:)" &n this second samle' no
inmates scored a!ove 3; on the P6B-?' and no regression #as reorted !et#een P6B-? scores
and P-scores' !ut no significant differences #ere found in the P-scores of the five highest
comared to the five lo#est P6B-?-scoring inmates" ,hus' although no significant relationshi
has !een found !et#een sychoathy and erformance on the D&,' the D&, has yet to !e
administered to a siHa!le samle of high-scoring sychoaths"
Moral Judgment !as). A second adatation of the EJ& is the Eoral Judgment ,ask (EJ,) (Bind'
0=@A)" ,he Eoral Judgment ,ask is !ased on Gohl!erg)s stages of moral develoment' !ut it is
adated to try to differentiate reference for a certain !asis for moral 5udgment (termed the
.affective/ art of moral atitude) from the a!ility to reason a!out moral issues o!5ectively
(termed the .cognitive/ art of moral atitude)" ,he Eoral Judgment ,ask asks articiants to
assess t#o moral dilemmas' one taken directly from Gohl!erg)s intervie# and the other
develoed from a real life situation(
Due to some seemingly unfounded dismissals' some factory #orkers susect the
managers of eavesdroing on their emloyees through an intercom and using this
information against them" ,he managers officially and emhatically deny this accusation"
,he union declares that it #ill only take stes against the comany #hen roof has !een
found that confirms these susicions" ,#o #orkers then !reak into the administrative
offices and take tae transcrits that rove the allegation of eavesdroing"
D%6,%?P S D&B>EEA
A #oman had cancer and she had no hoe of !eing saved" She #as in terri!le ain and so
#eakened that a large dose of a ainkiller such as morhine #ould have caused her death"
During a temorary eriod of imrovement' she !egged the doctor to give her enough
morhine to kill her" She said she could no longer endure the ain and #ould !e dead in a
fe# #eeks any#ay" ,he doctor comlied #ith her #ish"
-or each dilemma' articiants are first asked to 5udge #hether the actor)s solution #as right or
#rong on a scale from -3 to S3' and then articiants are asked to rate : moral arguments that are
consistent #ith the articiants) 5udgment and : moral arguments that are against the
articiants) 5udgment on a scale from -7 (.& strongly re5ect/) to S7 (.& strongly agree/)" >ach of
the : arguments reresents one of Gohl!erg)s si* stages of moral orientation" Particiants
tyically refer stage 9 moral arguments for Worker)s Dilemma and Stage : moral arguments for
Doctor)s Dilemma"
,#o metrics can !e calculated !ased on the articiants) resonses in the Eoral Judgment
,ask" ,he first metric' called the 6ometence score or .6-score/' is uni4ue to the Eoral
Judgment ,ask and is the most #idely used" ,he 6-score reflects the a!ility of a articiant to
ackno#ledge and aroriately #eigh moral arguments' regardless of #hether those arguments
agree #ith the articiant o#n oinion or interests" Eore technically' it tests the ercentage of an
individual)s total resonse variation that can uni4uely !e attri!uted to concern for the 4uality of a
moral argument" Peole generally do not score very high on the moral cometence test" Scores of
0-= out of 0;; are considered .very lo#/ !ut not uncommon' #hile scores of 9; out of 0;; are
considered .e*traordinarily high/ (Bind 2;;;a)" ,he second metric that can !e assessed in the
Eoral Judgment ,ask is moral .reference/ for or .attitude/ to#ards arguments of different
moral develoment stages" ,his is calculated !y simly averaging the articiants) ratings of the
arguments rovided at each stage" ,he moral attitude metric is similar to the metric used !y other
Gohl!erg test derivatives" &mortant to remem!er' the moral 5udgments rovided !y articiants
in the Eoral Judgment ,ask are not usually assessed or reorted e*cet to calculate the 6-score"
Although the Defining &ssues ,est and the Eoral Judgment ,ask may sound similar' their
metrics have !een sho#n to measure different asects of moral atitude" &n articular' it is
ossi!le to score high on the Defining &ssues ,est scale !ut very lo# on the Eoral Judgment
,ask scale' articularly if one su!scri!es to a!solute moral rules #ith little tolerance for other
vie#s (&shida' 2;;:)"
Io u!lished studies have e*amined the relationshi !et#een sychoathy and
erformance on the Eoral Judgment ,ask' !ut our research grou has administered the Eoral
Judgment ,ask to a oulation of @7 inmates in Ie# Ee*ico (mean age T 32"=' mean &L T
=="2A' mean P6B-? total T 22":3' range of P6B-? scores( @"7 F 3A"=)" We found a non-
significant ositive trend !et#een 6-scores on the Eoral Judgment ,ask and total P6B-? scores
( T ;";A9)' !ut no indication of a trend !et#een 6-scores and P6B-? -actor 0 ( T "2@:) or
-actor 2 scores ( T "2;9)" +o#ever' #e did find a strong correlation !et#een P6B-? total scores
and articiants ratings a!out ho# right or #rong the #orker)s !ehavior #as in the Worker)s
Dilemma (U T F"333' T ";;@)" ,he higher one scored on the P6B-?' the more likely one #as to
disagree #ith the #orker)s decision to !reak into the administrative offices and take tae
transcrits that rove the allegation of eavesdroing" ,his correlation #as dominated !y !oth
facets of -actor 2 (-actor 2( U T F"7@0' K ";;0C -acet 3( U T F"700' T ";;0C -acet 7( U T F"2:A'
T ";79)' !ut not -actor 0 (T"29@)' #hich suggests that the roensity for athological lying
(associated #ith -actor 0) is not correlated #ith assessments of this scenario" (Age also
significantly negatively correlated #ith attitudes to#ards the Worker)s Dilemma' !ut the
statistics listed a!ove take age into account") ,hese results #ere reflected in !et#een-grou
differences as #ell" &n three grous of lo# scorers (P6B-? of @-09' I T 02)' middle scorers
(P6B-? of 22-29' I T 0=)' and high scorers (P6B-? of 3;-3A"=' I T 02) matched for &L and
controlled for age (lo# scorers #ere significantly older than the other t#o grous)' Bo# scorers
agreed #ith the #orker)s decision significantly more than +igh scorers ( T";;A)' and almost
significantly more than Eiddle scorers ( T ;";@3)" Eiddle scorers and +igh scorers did not have
significantly different resonses" &nterestingly' there #ere no significant trends or differences
!et#een P6B-? scores and agreement #ith the doctor)s !ehavior in the Doctor)s Dilemma" ,hus'
these results suggest a very nuanced correlation !et#een P6B-? -actor 2 scores and articiants)
roensity to disagree #ith the act in one dilemma !ut not another" +o#ever' due to the hrasing
of the 4uestions used in the Eoral Judgment ,ask' it is not clear #hether articiants disagree
!ecause they think it is risky or' instead' disagree !ecause they think it is morally #rong"
!uriels Moral*Conventional !est
A ne# ersective on moral 5udgment is rovided !y the EoralV6onventional ,est' a test
!ased on social domain theories ioneered !y >lliot ,uriel" &n ,uriel)s vie#' moral 5udgments are
seen as a) serious' !) !ased on harm to others' and c) indeendent of authority and geograhy in
the sense that #hat is morally #rong is suosed to remain morally #rong even if authorities
ermit it and even if the act is done in some distant lace or time #here it is common" &mortant
to social domain theories' ,uriel argues that moral violations and conventional violations are
differentiated !y most eole early in life' #hereas Gohl!erg asserts that moral and conventional
thought diverge later in life and only for individuals #ho reach .ost-conventional/ levels of
moral reasoning" ,uriel)s vie# is suorted !y a #ealth of research sho#ing that children as
young as 3 years old dra# the distinction !et#een moral and conventional transgressions (for
revie#s' see ,uriel 0=A3 and ,uriel' Gillen' < +el#ig' 0=A@)" 6hildren !y age 7 tend to say' for
e*amle' that although it is #rong to talk in class #ithout raising one)s hand and !eing called on'
it #ould not !e #rong for one to talk in class if the teacher said that they #ere allo#ed to do so"
&n contrast' even if the teacher aroved' they say that it would still !e #rong to hit other kids"
,hese same young children also tend to reort that violations like hitting other kids are more
serious than violations like talking #ithout !eing called on and the fact that it harms those kids is
#hat makes it more #rong" +arm is not #hat makes it #rong to talk #ithout !eing called on'
ho#ever" ,hese findings have !een interreted as suggesting that reasoning relevant to moral and
conventional transgressions might develo indeendently and !e regulated !y searate cognitive
,o determine #hether an individual distinguishes moral and conventional #rongdoing'
EoralV6onventional tests resent articiants #ith short scenarios' usually a!out kids' descri!ing
events such as one child ushing another off of a s#ing or a child #earing a5amas to school"
After the scenario is descri!ed' articiants are asked these 4uestions a!out the act (W) that the
agent (X) did in the scenario(
(0) Permissibility( QWas it %G for X to do W$Q
(2) "eriousness( QWas it !ad for X to do W$Q and Q%n a scale of 0 to 0;' ho# !ad #as it
for X to do W$Q
(3) Justifi(ation( QWhy #as it !ad for X to do W$Q
(7) +uthority,dependen(e( QWould it !e %G for X to W if the authority says that X may do
?esonses to Luestion 0 and Luestion 7 are scored categorically #ith .Wes/ or /%G/ resonses
assigned a score of ; and .Io/ or /Iot %G/ resonses assigned a score of 0" 6umulative scores
are then comared !et#een scenarios descri!ing conventional and moral transgressions"
Seriousness as assessed in Luestion 2 is scored according to the value (!et#een 0 and 0;) the
su!5ect gave that transgression" ,he 5ustifications given in Luestion 3 are scored according to
standardiHed categories (e"g"' Smetana' 0=A9)"
&n the only u!lished study of the moralVconventional distinction in adult sychoathy'
Blair et al" (0==9) administered the moralVconventional test to ten high-P6B-? scoring atients
(mean P6B-? score( 30":) and ten lo#er P6B-? scoring atients (mean P6B-? score( 0:"0) from
high-security British sychiatric hositals" Blair reorted that high scorers did not demonstrate
an areciation for the distinction !et#een moral and conventional transgressions" Secifically' :
of 0; high-scorers dre# no distinction at all (and 2 dre# only a mild distinction)' #hereas A of 0;
lo#-scorers dre# a clear distinction !et#een moral and conventional violations" -urthermore'
failure to make the moralVconventional distinction correlated #ith the .lack of remorse or guiltQ'
QcallousVlack of emathy'Q and Qcriminal versatilityQ items on the P6B-?" ?egarding secific
dimensions of the distinction' high-scorers did cite conventions or authorities to e*lain #hy
!oth moral and conventional violations are #rong' #hereas lo#-scorers cited harm and 5ustice
considerations to e*lain #hy moral violations are #rong (in Luestion 3)" +o#ever' high-scorers
failed to make the distinction on all three other dimensions of ermissi!ility (Luestion 0)'
seriousness (Luestion 2)' and authority indeendence (Luestion 3)"
Perhas most interestingly' high-scorers did not rate moral and conventional violations to
!e ermissi!le' not serious' and authority-deendent' as had !een e*ected" &nstead' they rated
conventional violations to !e very serious and imermissi!le even if society and authorities said
that the act #as acceta!le" &n short' they treated conventional transgressions as moral' #hereas
they had !een e*ected to treat moral transgressions as conventional"
,he reasons for these results are still unclear" %ne ossi!le e*lanation is that adult
sychoaths really do think that !oth moral and conventional norms have the status that most
eole associate #ith only moral norms" Another e*lanation' roosed !y Blair (0==9)' is that
sychoaths really see all transgressions as conventional and can)t distinguish !et#een moral
and conventional conventions' !ut they treat all violations as moral in order to imress
investigators and imrove their chances of release" &n order to understand the ne*t study' #e)ll
call this the dou!le-inflation hyothesis !ecause it hyothesiHes that sychoaths inflate the
ratings of !oth moral and conventional distinctions for imression management" A third
ossi!ility is that adult sychoaths can make the moralVconventional distinction' !ut they
urosely inflate their ratings of only conventional transgressions for the same .imression
management/ uroses" We)ll call this the single-inflation hyothesis' !ecause it hyothesiHes
that sychoaths inflate only the ratings of the conventional distinctions for imression
management" Blair)s data cannot decide among these hyotheses"
,o hel decide !et#een these three alternative e*lanations' our grou resented our o#n
set of moral and conventional violations to 0;= inmates (including five #ho scored a!ove 3; on
the P6B-?) and 3; controls (Aharoni et al" su!mitted)" ,he difference !et#een our test and
revious tests is that #e told articiants that A of the listed acts #ere re-rated to !e morally
#rong (that is' #rong even if there #ere no rules' conventions' or la#s against them)' and A #ere
re-rated as conventionally #rong (that is' not #rong if there #ere no rules' conventions' or la#s
against them)" Gno#ing ho# many violations fit into each category' then' articiants #ere
asked to la!el each violation according to #hether or not the act #ould !e #rong if there #ere no
rules' conventions' or la#s against it" ,his difference in the formulation of the task is imortant'
!ecause it urosely aligned success on the test #ith imression management such that
articiants #ould have to la!el and rate the transgressions aroriately in order to ma*imiHe
investigators ositive imressions" ,his removed the incentive to rate all acts as morally #rong
indeendent of convention and authority' !ecause articiants kne# that rating all of them as
moral #ould misclassify half of the scenarios" Aharoni et al" found that inmates in general did
fairly #ell on this task (A2":J correct)' though significantly #orse than non-incarcerated
controls (=2"9J correct)" &f sychoaths can)t make the moralVconventional distinction (as
redicted !y the dou!le-inflation hyothesis)' sychoaths should do #orse on this task than
non-sychoaths" &f they can make the moralVconventional distinction (as redicted !y the
single-inflation hyothesis)' ho#ever' sychoaths should do 5ust as #ell as non-sychoaths"
Aharoni et al" found that P6B-? score had no relation to ho# #ell inmates erformed on this
version of the task" Ior did P6B-? score have any relation to harm ratings' #hich #ere collected
after the main 4uestion a!out authority deendence' and #hich e*lained a significant roortion
(2;J) of the variance in moral classification accuracy" Although more studies are needed' this
result suggests that contrary to revious !elief' sychoaths have the a!ility to distinguish moral
from conventional transgressions' even if their a!ility is not o!vious in all situations"
!ests that use philosophi(al s(enarios
Since the mid-0==;s' a ne# class of moral cognition tests has !een develoed #ith
insiration from moral hilosohers' #ho have discussed moral dilemmas for centuries" ,hese
hilosohers) dilemmas #ere not originally validated !y sychological studies or revie#ed !y
sychology e*erts like the tests discussed a!ove" &nstead' these dilemmas #ere validated !y
hilosohical rinciles and vetted !y hilosohical e*erts" ,he goal of these dilemmas #as
often to test roosed moral rinciles' !ut sometimes such dilemmas #ere intended to evoke
ne# moral intuitions that did not fit easily under any moral rincile that had !een formulated in
advance" &n a clinical conte*t' thus' this method allo#s one to test a) #hether sychoaths have
intuitions that reflect secific moral rinciles' and' in theory' !) #hether sychoaths #ill reort
these same moral intuitions #hen the intuition is not !ased on e*licit moral rinciles"
Some of the most famous of these hilosohical dilemmas are the .,rolley Scenarios/
(-oot' 0=@AC ,homson' 0=@:' 0=A9' 0=A:) including these versions from Nreene et al" (2;;0)(
S&D> ,?A6G
Wou are at the #heel of a runa#ay trolley 4uickly aroaching a fork in the tracks" %n the
tracks e*tending to the left is a grou of five rail#ay #orkmen" %n the tracks e*tending
to the right is one rail#ay #orkman" &f you do nothing' the trolley #ill roceed to the left'
causing the deaths of the five #orkmen" ,he only #ay to save these #orkmen is to hit a
s#itch on your dash!oard that #ill cause the trolley to roceed to the right' causing the
deaths of the #orkman on the side track"
Is it appropriate for you to hit the swit(h in order to avoid the deaths of the five
A runa#ay trolley is heading do#n the tracks to#ard five #orkmen #ho #ill !e killed if
the trolley roceeds on its resent course" Wou are on a foot!ridge over the tracks !et#een
the aroaching trolley and the five #orkmen" Ie*t to you on this foot!ridge is a stranger
#ho haens to !e very large" ,he only #ay to save the lives of the five #orkmen is to
ush this stranger off the !ridge and onto the tracks !elo# #here his large !ody #ill sto
the trolley" ,he stranger #ill die if you do this' !ut the five #orkmen #ill !e saved"
Is it appropriate for you to push the stranger on to the tra()s in order to save the five
,rolley scenarios vary in details (see Nreene et al" 2;;=) and e*erimenters may use different the
#ords .&s it aroriate to 1$/' .&s it ermissi!le to 1$/ ' .&s it #rong to1$/' or .Would
you1$/ to hrase their 4uestions" %ne #ay or another' though' these scenarios tyically it
conflicting moral intuitions or rinciles against each other in an effort to determine #hich moral
intuitions revail"
-reene on Personal vs. Impersonal ilemmas. Petrinovich and %)Ieill (0==:) #as the first
grou to use trolley scenarios in an e*eriment' !ut enthusiasm for the e*erimental use of
hilosohical dilemmas took off #hen Joshua Nreene et al" (2;;0) u!lished a !attery of 02;
short scenarios consisting of 7; non-moral scenarios' 7; .imersonal/ moral scenarios' and 7;
.ersonal/ moral scenarios" A moral violation #as defined as ersonal (or .u close and
ersonal/) if it #as (i) likely to cause serious !odily harm' (ii) to a articular victim' and (iii) the
harm does not result merely from the deflection of an e*isting threat onto a different arty"
(Nreene et al" 2;;0) A moral violation is imersonal if it fails to meet these criteria" Pushing the
man in the -oot!ridge scenario #as argued to e*emlify ersonal moral violations' #hereas
hitting the s#itch in the Side ,rack scenario #as argued to e*emlify imersonal moral
violations (!ecause an e*isting threat #as deflected)"
Nreene et al" (2;;0) hyothesiHed that ersonal moral violations #ould automatically
cause a negative emotional reaction that #ould su!se4uently cause articiants to 5udge the
violations as morally #rong or inaroriate' desite their !enefits in saving more lives" ,his
hyothesis #as suorted !y evidence that ersonal moral scenarios elicited hemodynamic
activity in !rain regions' including the ventromedial refrontal corte*' claimed to !e involved in
.emotion'/ #hile imersonal moral scenarios did not elicit activity in such areas"
,hese !rain
imaging results have !een relicated and suorted in su!se4uent studies !y Nreene)s grou (e"g"
2;;7' 2;;A)' and their e*erimental scenarios have roven to elicit consistent and ro!ust atterns
of moral intuitions"
Based on the assumtion that sychoaths have reduced emotional reactions' esecially
#ith regard to harm to others' a oular rediction #as that sychoaths #ould !e more likely to
5udge that the acts descri!ed in ersonal moral scenarios are not #rong' !ecause sychoaths
#ould lack the emotional resonse that makes most eole re5ect acts that cause .u close and
ersonal/ harm" ,his rediction is galvaniHed !y reorts that atients #ith damage in the
ventromedial refrontal corte*8a region !elieved to have reduced functionality in sychoathy
(Damasio' ,ranel' < Damasio' 0==;C >slinger < Damasio' 0=A9C Goenigs < ,ranel' 2;;:C
Goenigs et al"' 2;0;)8 are more likely to 5udge that ersonal harm for the greater good is
morally ermissi!le (Goenigs' Woung' et al" 2;;= Iature)"
,his rediction' ho#ever' has not !een suorted in sychoaths so far" &n t#o reorts
from the same grou (Nlenn et al 2;;= and 2;;= Eolecular Biology !)' !oth high and lo#
Nreene et al" (2;;0) also hyothesiHed that the automatic emotional reaction against ersonal
harm must !e overcome !y the fe# #ho 5udge that it is not morally #rong or inaroriate to
cause ersonal harm' such as !y ushing the man off the foot!ridge" ,his additional hyothesis
#as suosed to !e suorted !y differences in reaction time( When eole made 5udgments that
it #as not inaroriate to cause ersonal harm in order to serve a higher urose (such as saving
more lives)' it reortedly took eole longer to arrive at their 5udgment than #hen they decided it
was #rong' resuma!ly !ecause they had to regulate and overcome their initial emotional
resonse" +o#ever' these findings have !een 4uestioned !y XXXX (2;;X) in a recent reanalysis
of the reaction time data in Nreene et al" (2;;0)"
scorers on the P6B-? #ere more likely to say that they #ould not erform the acts descri!ed in
ersonal moral scenarios comared to imersonal moral scenarios' as reorted in healthy
oulations reviously" Desite redictions' there #as no difference in resonses !et#een the
P6B-? grous" &t is #orth noting' ho#ever' that !oth studies only used a small su!set of the
original scenarios from Nreene et al" (2;;0)' and sychoathy scores ranged only as high as 32
#ith the cut-off for .high scorers/ !eing 2: rather than 3;" ,hus' these studies do not rule out the
ossi!ility that sychoaths #ith very high P6B-? scores might reresent a discrete grou #ith
enough neural imairment to result in differences in ersonal moral 5udgment"
Another study !y 6ima' ,onnaer' and +auser (2;0;) found similar results" Using a P6B-
? cutoff of 2:' this grou studied 07 sychoathic offenders and 23 non-sychoathic offenders
from a forensic sychiatric center in the Ietherlands as #ell as 39 healthy controls"
Unfortunately' they do not reort ho# many articiants scored a!ove 3;" >ach articiant
received only @ ersonal and 07 imersonal moral dilemmas from Nreene (2;;0' 2;;7) and #as
instructed to resond .Wes/ or .Io/ to .Would you X$/ &n an attemt to control for lying'
articiants #ere also given a Socio-Eoral ?eflection 4uestionnaire (SE?-S-) a!out
straightfor#ard and familiar transgressions' such as .+o# imortant is it to kee a romise to
your friend$/ and .+o# imortant is it not to steal$/' #hich they ans#ered on a 9-oint scale
from very unimortant to very imortant" ,he results sho#ed no significant difference !et#een
sychoaths and the other grous in the ercentage of endorsed acts of imersonal harming or
ersonal harmingC self-serving or other-serving ersonal harmingC or Pareto-otimal or non-
Pareto-otimal other-serving harming" ,here #as no significant correlation !et#een P6B-?
scores or -actor 0 or 2 scores and their moral 5udgments on ersonal dilemmas or their scores on
the SE?-S-"
Although these null results line u nicely #ith the studies !y Nlenn et al"' the use
of a P6B-? cutoff of 2: still leaves oen the ossi!ility that very high scorers (R3; or R37) might
sho# differences that do not aear in this samle" &n addition' the lack of significant differences
might !e due to the small num!er of sychoaths (07)' lo# num!er of ersonal dilemmas (@)' or
lo# overall &L of the articiants (A0":C see discussion of &L in trolley scenarios !elo#)" When
considering all of these studies' it should also !e noted that su!5ects #ere asked .&s it aroriate
to X$/ in the Nlenn et al" studies and .Would you X$/ in the 6ima et al" study' so it is not clear
#hether differences #ould emerge if su!5ects had !een asked directly .&s it #rong to X$/"
Eoreover' it is not clear that any of these studies succeeded in controlling for lying' so it is still
ossi!le that sychoaths) resonses to these scenarios do not reflect real moral !eliefs" &n sum'
these studies are suggestive' !ut they do not esta!lish definitively that true sychoaths make
normal moral 5udgments in ersonal and imersonal dilemmas" %n the other hand' there is also at
resent no evidence that sychoaths resond differently to ersonal moral dilemmas than non-
Conse.uen(es/ +(tion/ and Intention. Although the distinction !et#een ersonal and imersonal
moral dilemmas has roven to !e consistent' ro!ust' and useful' it is not clear ho# that
distinction mas onto #ell-kno#n moral rinciles" &n an effort to more recisely define
rinciles that might influence moral 5udgments' Schaich Borg et al" (2;;:) and 6ushman et al"
(2;;:) designed sets of dilemmas that indeendently maniulated moral intuitions to#ards
conse4uences' actions' and intentions" ,hese factors #ere chosen !ecause they had !een
e*licitly incororated into rules of medical and olitical ethics as #ell as la# and moral theory
6ima et al" reort that there #ere .only four cases #here the sychoaths 5udged the case more
ermissi!le !y 2;-7;J"/ ,hey do not' unfortunately' secify #hich cases these #ere"
(See' for e*amle' the Sureme 6ourt oinions on euthanasia in Yacco et al" v" Luill et al"' 00@
S"6t" 22=3 (0==@))' and thus #ere imortant to many tyes of moral decisions"
We)ll !egin #ith e*laining the factor of conse4uences" Almost every!ody agrees that it
is morally refera!le to increase good conse4uences and to reduce !ad conse4uences" ,he
hilosohical vie# called 6onse4uentialism tries to cature this intuition !y claiming that #e
morally ought to do #hatever has the !est overall conse4uences' including all kinds of good and
!ad conse4uences for everyone affected (Sinnott-Armstrong' 2;;3)" Although it is often difficult
to kno# #hich otion #ill lead to the !est conse4uences' the !asic idea !ehind 6onse4uentialism
is hard to !eat" &f one atient needs five ills to survive' !ut five other atients need only one ill
each to survive' and if the only doctor has only five ills' then almost everyone #ould 5udge that
the doctor morally ought to give one ill to each of the five atients rather than giving all five
ills to the one atient" Why$ Because that lan saves more lives" ,hese moral intuitions and
choices reflect the role that 6onse4uences lay in our moral intuitions"
A second factor that can conflict #ith conse4uences is Action" Eoral intuitions related to
Action are reflected in the traditional Doctrine of Doing and Allo#ing (DDA)' #hich states that
it takes more to 5ustify actively doing harm than to 5ustify assively allo#ing harm to occur
(+o#ard-Snyder' 2;;2)" -or e*amle' it seems much #orse for Al to shoot an innocent victim
than to allo# that same erson to die' erhas !y failing to revent Bo! from shooting that
erson" Similarly' suose a o#erful evil genius sho#s you t#o !ound eole and says' .&f you
do nothing' the erson on the right #ill die and the erson on the left #ill live" &f you ush the
!utton in front of you' the erson on the left #ill die and the erson on the right #ill live"/
(,ooley' 0=@2)" Desite the fact that the conse4uences (one death) are the same in !oth ossi!le
outcomes' many eole 5udge that you (and they) should not ush the !utton in this situation'
erhas !ecause no!ody should .lay Nod"/ ,his intuition illustrates the role of action as
oosed to inaction in moral 5udgments" ,his intuition a!out Action can not only !e
distinguished from intuitions a!out conse4uences' it often conflicts #ith outcomes that lead to
the !est conse4uences"
A third factor that can conflict #ith goals for the !est conse4uences is &ntention" Eoral
intuitions a!out intending harm lie !ehind the traditional Doctrine of Dou!le >ffect (DD>)'
#hich holds that it takes more to 5ustify harms that are intended either as an ends or as a means
than to 5ustify harms that are kno#n !ut unintended side effects (Ec&ntyre' 2;;7)" ,he oint of
the doctrine is not 5ust that it is #orse to intentionally cause harm than to accidentally cause the
same harm (such as !y kicking them as oosed to triing over them)" &nstead' the DD>
contrasts t#o #ays of causing harm' neither of #hich is comletely accidental" -or e*amle'
imagine that the only #ay to sto a terrorist from igniting a !om! that #ill kill many innocent
eole is to shoot the terrorist)s innocent child in order to distract the terrorist" Eany eole
#ould 5udge that it is morally #rong to shoot the child' !ecause that lan re4uires intending harm
to the child as a means only to achieve one)s goal (cf" Gant XXXX)" &n contrast' suose that the
only #ay to sto the terrorist is to shoot him' !ut he is carrying his child on his !ack and your
!ullet #ill go through the terrorist and then hit his child if you shoot" Although you )now that
shooting the terrorist #ill harm his child' you do not intend to harm his child' !ecause your lan
#ould #ork if someho# you hit the terrorist !ut missed his child" Eany eole 5udge that it is
not as morally #rong to shoot in this second terrorist scenario as to shoot the child intentionally
in the first terrorist scenario" ,hese e*amles demonstrate the role of &ntention in moral
5udgments' and sho# that the factor of &ntention is searate from' or can !e in conflict #ith' !oth
6onse4uences and Action" Desite intuitions that it is #rong to intentionally shoot the terrorist)s
innocent child' to refrain from doing so #ould result in more eole dying and eole feel it is
#orse to shoot the child and intend for him to die than to shoot the child and not intend for him
to die' desite the fact that !oth scenarios re4uire the same action of shooting"
,he DD> might e*lain common resonses to trolley scenarios descri!ed in the
.ersonal vs" imersonal/ harm section" ,o ush the man in -oot!ridge involves intending harm
as a means' !ecause the lan #ould not #ork if the trolley missed the man #ho #as ushed" &n
contrast' hitting the s#itch in Side ,rack does not involve intending harm as a means' !ecause
this lan #ould #ork even if the trolley missed the man on the side track" ,his difference in lan
or intention seems to e*lain #hy more eole 5udge that the act in -oot!ridge is morally #rong
than 5udge the act in Side ,rack is morally #rong (Sinnott-Armstrong et al" 2;;A)"
Schaich Borg et al" (2;;:) and 6ushman et al" (2;;:) designed scenarios that
systematically vary the num!er of lives at stake' #hether an action is re4uired' and #hether harm
is intentional in order to test intuitions relevant to 6onse4uentialism' the DDA' and the DD>'
resectively" ,he grous administered their tests in different #ays" After each scenario' Schaich
Borg et al" (2;;:) asked articiants' .&s it #rong to Zdo the act descri!ed in the scenario[$/ and
.Would you Zdo the act descri!ed in the scenario[$/ ,he scenarios designed !y Schaich Borg et
al" (2;;:) #ere given in erson to a ilot grou of 97 articiants outside of the fE?& scanner
and an e*erimental grou of 2: articiants inside an fE?& scanner" All su!5ects read all
scenarios' and the conse4uences' action' and intention factors #ere varied in a factorial design so
that it could !e determined' for each su!5ect' ho# relatively imortant each factor #as for their
5udgments" &n contrast' 6ushman et al" (2;;:) asked articiants to rate the rotagonist)s action
on a scale from 0 (la!eled .-or!idden/) and @ (la!eled .%!ligatory/)" ,hey resented their
scenarios over the internet to 0'9;; F 2'9;; articiants across cultures in a !et#een-su!5ects
design" >ach articiant read only four scenarios' and the resonses of t#o searate grous to
t#o searate scenarios #ere comared in order to determine #hich factors affected moral
5udgments" Desite the differences !et#een their methods' !oth grous found that on average
articiants) resonses reflected all three factors( 6onse4uences' Action' and &ntention"
Both grous also asked articiants for reasons or 5ustifications for their moral
5udgments' and !oth found significant differences" -irst' !oth reort that articiants often
roduced 5ustifications for their moral 5udgments corresonding to the DDA (reflecting the
action factor)85ustifications like' .&)m not here to lay Nod/ or .& don)t #ant to cause harm"/ &n
contrast' articiants much less often delivered 5ustifications for their moral 5udgments
corresonding to the DD> (reflecting the intention factor)" &n fact' almost every articiant in the
Schaich Borg et al" study cited something like the DDA in their 5ustifications for their 5udgments'
!ut not a single articiant cited the DD> or #hether the harm #as intentional" Second' Schaich
Borg et al" (2;;:) found that neural activity in the ventromedial refrontal corte* correlated #ith
making 5udgments a!out intentional as oosed to non-intentional harm' !ut did not correlate
#ith making other kinds of 5udgments"
,hese findings together suort some seculations( &ntuitions associated #ith &ntention
and the DD> (!ut not the DDA) normally deend on unconscious or inaccessi!le rinciles
#hose influence is mediated !y the vmP-6" &f so' if vmP-6 function is reduced in sychoaths'
as some researchers hyothesiHe (Damasio' ,ranel' < Damasio' 0==;C >slinger < Damasio'
0=A9C Goenigs < ,ranel' 2;;:C Goenigs et al"' 2;0;)' then moral 5udgments !y sychoaths
might !e less sensitive to intentions and the DD>"
,o test this hyothesis' #e administered the Eoral 6onse4uences' Action' and &ntention
(E6A&) 4uestionnaire from Schaich Borg et al" (2;;:) to A0 male inmates' though 0@
articiants had to !e discarded !ecause they missed the .catch/ scenarios (suggesting that they
did not ay ade4uate attention)' leaving a total of :7 articiants" 0A of these :7 articiants had
a P6B-? score of 3; or higher #ith highest score !eing 3:"A" As in the original non-forensic
samle' articiants demonstrated sensitivity to the rinciles of 6onse4uences' Action' and
&ntention" Particiants #ere more likely to 5udge that an otion #as morally #rong and less
likely to say they #ould erform the act if it re4uired action as oosed to omission (K";;0'
K";;0) or if it re4uired intentional harm (K";;0' K";;0) to#ards humans as oosed to o!5ects
(K";;0)" ,hey #ere also less likely to say an act #as #rong and more likely to say that they
#ould do it if it led to !etter conse4uences (K";;0' K";;0)" 6ontrary to our rediction'
sychoaths) moral 5udgments a!out #hat #as #rong or not #rong did not differ from moral
5udgments !y non-sychoaths' no matter ho# the analyses #ere constructed"
Ionetheless' other data did suggest one otential difference" Ion-sychoaths and
sychoaths had the same reaction times to non-moral scenarios' !ut their reaction times differed
significantly #ith moral scenarios" Ion-sychoaths took on average around =9;; ms to give
affirmative ans#ers (.Wes' it is #rong/)' !ut they took only on average around @;;; ms to give
negative ans#ers (.Io' it is not #rong/)" &n contrast' sychoaths gave affirmative ans#ers in
a!out @;;; ms on average' !ut they took on average a!out =;;; ms to give negative ans#ers"
Psychoaths thus differed from normals in oosite directions for affirmative and negative
reaction times( a dou!le dissociation"
%f course' any interretation of these findings must !e seculative" Still' one lausi!le
ossi!ility is that non-sychoathic articiants did not #ant to call acts .#rong/ !ecause in
many of these dilemmas more eole #ould suffer or die if the act #as not done' and the non-
sychoathic articiants #ere reluctant to let those eole suffer or die" ,hey felt a serious
conflict that slo#ed them do#n" Since sychoaths did not care in the same #ay a!out those
other eole' they could make their negative 5udgments #ith less reluctance and' hence' more
4uickly" But then #hy did sychoaths take longer to reach negative 5udgments than to reach
ositive 5udgments$ A ossi!le seculation is that the sychoaths #ere risoners so they #ere
thinking a!out ho# others might regard their ans#ers" &f the sychoaths called an act .not
#rong/ #hen others 5udged it to !e #rong' then the sychoaths might seem more likely to do
such #rong acts' #hich might get them into trou!le" &n contrast' if the sychoaths called an act
.#rong/ that others did not see as #rong' then the sychoaths #ould not get into trou!le'
!ecause that resonse #ould not make them seem esecially dangerous" ,his attemt at
.imression management/ might make sychoaths more reluctant to give a negative ans#er
than to give a ositive ans#er' and that reluctance #ould e*lain their reaction times" &t #ould
also suggest that sychoaths !ase their ans#ers on considerations that are very different from
the reasons of non-sychoaths"
+o#ever' it is crucial to add that these reaction time differences #ere due to only a fe# of
the articiants" +ence' it #ould !e much too hasty to dra# any strong conclusion from these
reaction time differences" We mention them here mainly in order to suggest #hy future research
should look carefully at reaction times in addition to resonses"
Another result might also !e revealing" Schaich Borg et al" (2;;:) suggested that
sychoaths #ould demonstrate reduced sensitivity to intentions and the DD>' !ut this
hyothesis #as !ased on the assumtion that intuitions !ased on intention and the DD> normally
deend on rinciles that are unconscious or inaccessi!le" Surrisingly' ho#ever' many of the
inmates in our later study e*licitly cited intentions and even rinciles like the DD> during
their intervie#s after the task" Uon further ro!ing' it seemed that the inmates) a!ility to
articulate these usually inaccessi!le rinciles #ere likely a conse4uence of #hat they learned
through their legal roceedings or through their moral sensitivity training that they had
reviously received in rison" Because moral rinciles a!out intentional harm #ere consciously
accessi!le to these articiants' there is no reason to e*ect reduced sensitivity to intentions or
the DD> in this samle" +ence' it still has not !een determined #hether sychoaths #ithout
e*licit e*osure to rinciles regarding intentional harm #ill demonstrate less moral sensitivity
to intentions or the DD>"
&n sum' there are still some oen 4uestions' !ut a negative conclusion is suorted !y the
data" 6onsistent #ith revious results using ersonal vs" imersonal moral dilemmas' there is
currently no strong evidence that sychoaths resond differently than non-sychoaths to
6onse4uences' Action' or &ntention as factors in hilosohical moral dilemmas"
!ests that go beyond harm,based morality
,he tests discussed thus far focus on moral rohi!itions against causing harm" ,his focus
makes sense' !ecause these 5udgments are central to morality' and #hat makes sychoaths
ro!lematic is their tendency to cause harm to others" +o#ever' morality includes more than
merely rohi!itions on causing harm" Eost eole often make moral 5udgments a!out harmless
immorality' and sometimes moral rinciles even dictate causing harm' as in retri!utive
unishment" &n this section' #e #ill revie# studies of ho# sychoaths erform in some of these
other areas of morality"
#aidts Moral 0oundations 1uestionnaire. 6omlimentary to those develoed through
hilosohy' anthroology and evolutionary sychology have insired additional tests of moral
5udgment" ,heir theoretical aroach asserts that moral 5udgments should !e defined !y their
function rather than their content" &n articular' the Eoral -oundations ,heory of Jonathan +aidt
takes morality to cover any mechanism (including values' rules' or emotions) that regulates
selfishness and ena!le successful social life' regardless of #hat the contents of those mechanisms
are (Nraham et al"' under revie#C cf" Warnock XXXX)" ,his definition imlies that many
rohi!itions or rinciles that others classify as non-moral conventions or !iases are instead
moral in nature' 5ust as much as rules of 5ustice' rights' harm' and #elfare" &n total' +aidt
delineates five areas or .foundations/ of moral regulation( 0) +armVcare' 2) -airnessVrecirocity'
3) &ngrouVloyalty' 7) AuthorityVresect' and 9) PurityVsanctity" +aidt argues that these areas are
common (though not necessarily universal) across cultures and have some clear counterart in
evolutionary thinking"
Judgments in these five areas are tested !y the Eoral -oundations Luestionnaire (E-L)
in t#o #ays" &n the first art of the E-L' articiants are asked to indicate ho# relevant (from
.not at all/ to .e*tremely relevant/) various considerations are #hen they decide #hether
something right or #rong" Different foundations are reresented !y different considerations as
illustrated !y these e*amles(
\\\\\\Whether or not someone sho#ed a lack of resect for authority
\\\\\\Whether or not someone violated standards of urity and decency
\\\\\\Whether or not someone #as good at math
\\\\\\Whether or not someone #as cruel
\\\\\\Whether or not someone #as denied his or her rights
&n the second art of the E-L' articiants are asked #hether they strongly' moderately' or
slightly agree or disagree #ith statements reflecting various moral foundations' including these
\\\\\\ & #ould call some acts #rong on the grounds that they are unnatural"
\\\\\\ &t can never !e right to kill a human !eing"
\\\\\\ &t is more imortant to !e a team layer than to e*ress oneself"
\\\\\\ &f & #ere a soldier and disagreed #ith my commanding officer)s orders'
& #ould o!ey any#ay !ecause that is my duty"
\\\\\\ Peole should not do things that are disgusting' even if no one is harmed"
Particiants resonses are averaged across a given foundation to get a final score ranging from ;
to 9 for each of the five moral foundations"
%ur grou has administered the Eoral -oundations Luestionnaire to 222 adult male
inmates in Ie# Ee*ico" %f these' 7; inmates had a P6B-? score of 3; or higher #ith highest
score !eing 3:"A and the mean !eing 20"97" We found that total P6B-? scores #ere not
correlated #ith ratings of the in-grou foundation' !ut #ere negatively correlated #ith ratings for
the harm (U T F"23' t(2;9) T F3"7:' p K ";;0)' fairness (U T F"0A' t(209) T F2"@@' p K ";0)' and
urity (U T F"0@' t(209) T F2"9@' p K ";9) foundations' and marginally for the authority
foundation (U T F"00' t(209) T F0":3' p T " ;92)" P6B-? -actors 0 and 2 correlated negatively
and aro*imately e4ually for the harm' fairness' and authority foundations' although -actor 0
#as more uni4uely correlated #ith -airness foundation ratings than -actor 2 #as" &nterestingly'
-acet 0 (ossi!ly reflecting imression management) and -acet 2 (reflecting callous traits)
uni4uely e*lained 0:"2J and 2@"0J of the variance in +arm foundation ratings' resectively'
!ut these facets correlated #ith the ratings in oosite directions" -acet 0 scores correlated
ositively #ith +arm foundation ratings (U T "2;' t(209) T 2":@' p K ";0C R
T "23' p K ";;0)'
meaning articiants #ith higher -acet 0 scores valued and 5udged the +arm foundation items
more highly" -acet 2 scores' in contrast' correlated negatively #ith +arm foundation ratings (U T
F"30' t(209) T F7"7:' p K ";;0)' meaning articiants #ith higher -acet 2 scores valued and
5udged the +arm foundation items less highly" ,hese results thus rovide an e*amle of instances
#here different sychoathic traits correlate #ith moral 5udgment a!ilities in oosite directions"
Eoreover' given that -acet 0 and -acet 2 scores #ere strongly correlated (r T "@3' p K ";;0)'
these results suggest that the negative relationshi !et#een total P6B-? scores and +arm
foundation ratings e*isted desite a significant influence of imression management"
%f note' our results are artially consistent #ith the results u!lished in one study
investigating the relationshi !et#een E-L scores and non-clinical sychoathic ersonality
traits in the general oulation (Nlenn et al"' 2;;=)" ,his study used the Bevenson Self-?eort
Psychoathy Scale (S?PS) to assess sychoathy' a self-reort 4uestionnaire that significantly
correlates #ith the assessments made !y the P6B-?' !ut only mildly so" (,otal P6B-? scores
correlate #ith total S?PS scores !y ;"39C #hen the P6B-? and the S?PS are used to divide
articiants into grous of high' lo#' and middle scorers' the kaa coefficient is only ;"00)"
this study' S?PS scores negatively correlated #ith endorsement of the moral foundations of
+arm' -airness' and Purity' as in our incarcerated oulation" +o#ever' unlike the results from
our incarcerated oulation' they found a ositive correlation !et#een S?PS scores and
See the chater !y -o#ler and Bilienfeld in this volume"
endorsement of the &n-grou moral foundation' and they failed to find a correlation !et#een
S?PS scores and endorsement of the Authority foundation" Niven the differences !et#een their
oulation and ours' as #ell as !et#een the P6B-? and S?PS assessments' it is not surrising
that they have slightly different correlations than #e found in incarcerated risoners #ith the
Although the correlations !et#een sychoathy scores and ratings of moral foundations
#ere significant in our oulation' t#o imortant t#ists need to !e considered" %n average' our
inmate oulation rated the +arm and -airness foundations as highly as did non-incarcerated
oulations studied !y Nraham et al" (2;;=) (average scores of 3"77 and 3"73 comared to the
reorted scores of 3"72 and 3"99' resectively)" 6uriously' ho#ever' the &n-grou' Authority' and
Purity foundations #ere rated as much more imortant !y our incarcerated oulation than !y
Nraham et al")s non-incarcerated oulation" ,he average rating of the &n-grou foundation #as
3"73 in our oulation comared to 2"2: in Nraham et al")s non-incarcerated oulation' 3"09
comared to 2"2@ for the Authority foundation' and 3";2 comared to 0"97 for the Purity
foundation" ,hese differences suggest that one interretation of the negative correlation !et#een
P6B-? scores and ratings of the authority and urity foundations is that higher-scoring
sychoaths actually resonded more li)e the average population than lo#er-scoring
sychoaths' not less like the average oulation"
>4ually imortant' P6B-? scores are not the only redictor of moral foundation ratings"
+aidt and colleagues have sho#n in multile oulations that olitical orientation correlates #ith
moral foundation ratings 5ust as much and sometimes even in the same direction as sychoathy
(Nraham et al"' 2;;=)" &n fact' the more conservative a olitical ideology one identifies #ith' the
more likely one is the rate the moral foundations of +arm and -airness like a high-scoring
sychoath" Niven that oulations in reviously u!lished studies valued the foundations of
Authority and Purity much less than our oulation' it is harder to comare the atterns for these
foundations !et#een our t#o studies" ,he oint here is definitely not to say that conservatives
are sychoaths" ?ather' the oint is that the same amount of variance accounted for !y
sychoathy can also !e accounted for !y many other socially-acceta!le traits" ,herefore'
#ithout further research' there are no clear imlications to !e dra#n from our discovered
correlations !et#een sychoathy and articular moral foundations"
Robinson and Kur$bans eserved Punishment !est. Wet another kind of moral 5udgment
concerns not #hich acts are morally #rong !ut' instead' ho# others should react to #rongdoing
and' in articular' ho# much unishment is deserved !y others) #rongdoing" ,hese 5udgments
involve not only the categorical 5udgment of #hether some unishment is deserved' !ut also ho#
much unishment is deserved and #hether certain crimes deserve more unishment than others"
,o test these moral 5udgments a!out unishment' Paul ?o!inson and ?o!ert GurH!an
(XXXX) used legal rinciles to construct descritions of 27 standard crimes (including theft'
fraud' manslaughter' murder' and torture) that collectively reresent =7"=J of the offenses
committed in the United States" +ere are t#o e*amles of their stimuli(
S+%?, 6+AIN> 6+>A,
John is a ca! driver #ho icks u a high school student" Because the customer seems
confused a!out the money transaction' John decides he can trick her and gives her O2;
less change than he kno#s she is o#ed"
BU?I&IN E%,+>? -%? &I+>?&,AI6>
John #orks out a lan to kill his :;-year-old invalid mother for the inheritance" +e drags
to her !ed' uts her in' and lights her o*ygen mask #ith a cigarette' hoing to make it
look like an accident" ,he elderly #oman screams as her clothes catch fire and she !urns
to death" John 5ust #atches her !urn"
?o!inson and GurH!an also included scenarios descri!ing 02 non-standard crimes' such as
rostitution and drug ossession" &n their first study' the scenarios #ere #ritten on cards' and
articiants #ere asked to order the cards according to ho# much unishment they think each
crime deserves (though they #ere also allo#ed to set aside acts that deserve no unishment at
all)" ,hen they #ere given a chance to reconsider each air of scenarios to confirm that they #ere
ordered as #ished !efore committing to their final ordering" %f note' then' unlike the moral
5udgments collected in the assessments descri!ed earlier in this chater' the moral 5udgments
made in the ?o!inson and GurH!an reflect 5udgments of relative comarisons of secific
criminal acts" ,hey follo#ed u this card study in erson #ith a larger study over the internet'
using similar instructions"
?o!inson and GurH!an found that eole)s moral intuitions of deserved unishment for
the standard crimes are surrisingly secific and #idesread" &n a samle of :7 articiants given
the card test' =2J of the time su!5ects agreed that no unishment #as deserved for four
scenarios' and =:J of the time su!5ects agreed a!out ho# to rank the other t#enty scenarios
(Kendall's 3 4 .56/ K ";;0)" &n the internet relication' a samle of 27: su!5ects agreed that the
first four scenarios did not deserve unishment @0J-A@J of the time (deending on the
scenario)' and agreed a!out ho# to rank the rest of the scenarios =0"AJ of the time (Kendall's 3
4 "AA' K ";;0)" ,hese data suggest that this test rovides a ro!ust #ay to ro!e moral
differences in other oulations"
We administered ?o!inson and GurH!an)s test to 0;7 adult male inmates" ,he P6B-?
scores for 3 of these inmates #ere not availa!le' !ut 29 had a P6B-? score of 3; or higher" P6B-
? scores ranged from 3"2 to 3:"A #ith a mean of 22"9" Similar to ?o!inson and GurH!an)s
findings in non-incarcerated oulations' our incarcerated samle had high agreement in
rankings of deserved unishment' #ith Kendall's 3 of "A9 overall ( K ";;0)" When P6B-? total
scores #ere comared to each articiant)s Gendall)s ,au (a measure of ho# similar the
articiant)s rank ordering #as to the ideal order)' there #as no significant correlation ( T "90A
#hen age #as taken into account' !ecause age correlated #ith P6B-? score' T ";7:)" +o#ever'
uon further insection' this lack of correlation #as due to the fact that -actor 0 and -actor 2
scores correlated #ith Gendall)s ,au in oosite directions and canceled themselves out in the
P6B-? total score" -actor 0 correlated ositively #ith Gendall)s ,au (b T "3:' t T 2"=A' p K ";;7)
and -actor 2 correlated negatively #ith Gendall)s ,au (b T -"3;' t T -2"73' p K ";0@) #hen the
correlated varia!les of age and ethnicity #ere taken into account" &n other #ords' the higher one
scores on the interersonal and affective asects of the P6B-?' the more normal one)s reorted
moral intuitions a!out deserved unishment" ,he higher one scores on the social deviance
asects of the P6B-?' ho#ever' the more a!normal one)s intuitions a!out unishment" We found
no evidence that these effects #ere dominated !y one facet of sychoathy over another"
,hese results suggest a #ord of caution in interreting any studies of moral 5udgments in
sychoaths" Perhas one reason #hy it is so hard to find effects of sychoathy on moral
5udgment in studies #ith small num!ers of sychoathic articiants is that -actor 0
sychoathic traits and -actor 2 sychoathic traits influence moral 5udgments in oosite
directions and ultimately cancel each other out #hen neither -actor dominates" &f so' future
studies need to include enough articiants #hose scores vary enough on different P6B-? items
in order to !e a!le statistically to searate out the effects of the different -actors (and -acets) of
Moral pi(tures with brain s(ans
All of the studies so far deend on ver!al self-reorts of moral 5udgments" Because t#o
items on the P6B-? are athological lying and conningVmaniulative' one serious concern is
#hether #e should trust these self-reorts" Psychoaths might !e a!le to reason ho# non-
sychoaths #ould resond and #ant to aear normal to maniulate others' and therefore
resond to 4uestionnaires in the same #ays non-sychoaths do #ithout !elieving or
.areciating/ #hat they say" By analogy' atheists can often resond in the same #ay as religious
!elievers to 4uestions a!out #hat is sacrilegious' even though atheists do not !elieve that
anything is really sacrilegious" Similarly' if sychoaths reort #hat they kno# to !e other
eole)s moral !eliefs' !ut they do not share those moral !eliefs' !y some definitions it could !e
argued that they do not really make normal moral 5udgments or even moral 5udgments at all"
Eoreover' even if sychoaths really do !elieve the moral 5udgments that they reort'
they still might not make those moral 5udgments in the same #ay as non-sychoaths" &n his
seminal !ook Mas) of "anity (0=@:)' +ervey 6leckley o!served that sychoaths ver!ally
e*ress emotions' often at the aroriate times' !ut they don)t seem to actually e*erience or
value emotions" &n other #ords' they .kno# the #ords !ut not the music/ (Johns < Luay' 0=:2)"
,his susicion is suorted !y findings indicating that sychoaths have reduced autonomic
resonses in the !ody and hemodynamic resonses in the !rain in resonse to emotional stimuli'
even #hen they reort that they feel the aroriate emotions (Blair et al"' 2;;:C Giehl et al"'
2;;:)" ,hese findings raise the ossi!ility that' even if sychoaths reort normal moral
emotions and normal moral 5udgments' those reorts of moral 5udgments might !e arrived at
through very different' and less emotional' rocesses than in non-sychoathic individuals"
,hese hyotheses receive some reliminary suort from t#o recent studies that had
sychoaths reort moral 5udgments #hile their !rains #ere scanned using functional magnetic
resonance imaging (fE?&)" ,he first study (Nlenn et al"' 2;;=) gave a su!set of Nreene)s moral
scenarios to 0@ articiants' 7 of #hom scored a 3; or a!ove on the P6B-?" Psychoaths)
e*licit moral 5udgments of these scenarios did not differ significantly from those rovided !y
non-sychoaths' !ut higher sychoathy scores did correlate #ith reduced activity in the left
amygdala and increased activity in the dorsolateral refrontal corte* in resonse to ersonal
moral scenarios comared to imersonal moral scenarios" ,hese results lend some suort to the
hyothesis that sychoaths make moral 5udgments differently than non-sychoaths' even if the
verdicts of their 5udgments are rarely a!normal"
Another study in our la! (+arenski et al"' 2;0;) sho#ed ictures of moral violations'
emotional scenes #ithout moral violations' and neutral scenes that #ere neither moral nor
emotional to 0: sychoaths (P6B-?( 3;S) and 0: non-sychoaths (P6B-?( @-0A)" ,he
sychoaths rated the deicted moral violations as 5ust as severe as non-sychoaths did' !ut the
sychoaths had a!normal !rain activity #hile rating the moral severity of ictures of moral
violations" &n articular' comared to non-sychoaths' sychoaths had reduced activity in the
ventromedial refrontal corte* and anterior temoral corte*" Eoreover' amygdala activity #as
arametrically related to moral severity ratings in non-sychoaths !ut not in sychoaths"
Perhas most interestingly' activity in the right osterior temoralVarietal corte* correlated
negatively #ith moral severity ratings in sychoaths !ut had no such correlation in non-
sychoaths" ,his !rain area has !een associated #ith ascritions of !eliefs to other eole' so
this difference in neural activity might !e e*lained !y the rocess of sychoaths thinking a!out
#hat other eole !elieve instead of forming or e*ressing their o#n moral !eliefs" +o#ever'
this interretation is comlicated !y the fact that the correlation is negative rather than ositive"
-urther research is under #ay in our la! to discover' ma' and understand the neural differences
!et#een sychoaths and non-sychoaths #hile they consider and e*ress moral 5udgments"
,he studies revie#ed in this chater suort a tentative and 4ualified conclusion( &f
sychoaths have any deficits or a!normalities in their moral 5udgments' their deficits seem
su!tle8much more su!tle than many o!servers might e*ect' given their !latantly a!normal
!ehavior" &ndeed' thus far the literature suggests that sychoaths might not have any secific
deficits in moral cognition at all' desite their differences in moral action' emotion' and emathy"
,hat said' there are imortant reasons that this conclusion can !e no more than tentative"
,oo fe# studies on moral 5udgment in sychoaths are availa!le' these studies include too fe#
clinical sychoaths' and the findings of various studies conflict too much to #arrant confidence"
%ne articular concern is that very fe# individuals #ith P6B-? scores a!ove 37 have !een
studied' and anecdotal clinical evidence suggests that this grou might !e significantly different
from the articiants in most studies on record" We also don)t yet kno# #hether sychoaths
!elieve the moral 5udgments they reorts" So there are many mechanisms !y #hich future
studies could uncover moral 5udgment deficits that have yet to !e identified"
-illing in the gas in our kno#ledge a!out moral 5udgment in sychoaths #ill !e
imortant for !oth neuroscience and the la#" -or neuroscience' such kno#ledge #ill !e
imortant for learning a!out the neural underinnings of morality' as #ell as ho# to treat
sychoathy" -or la#' as mentioned at the !eginning of the chater' if sychoaths cannot kno#
or areciate the moral #rongfulness of their acts' they should not !e held morally or criminally
resonsi!le according to some legal scholars and some versions of the insanity defense"
understanding of #hich sychoaths do not or cannot make normal moral 5udgments' and #hich
of their moral 5udgments are a!normal' might hel authorities make !etter redictions of #hich
risoners #ill commit more crimes if released and #hich treatment rograms #ill hel #hich
-or these ractical and theoretical reasons' #e need more thorough and creative
research on moral 5udgments !y sychoaths" &n doing so' hoefully #e can also learn more
a!out the erle*ing fact that the a!ility to make moral 5udgments is so dissocia!le from !oth the
a!ility to have moral emotions and the a!ility to act morally"
See the chaters !y Bitton and Pills!ury in this volume"
See the chaters !y ?ice and +arris' !y >dens' Eagyar' and 6o*' and !y 6ald#ell in this
Aharoni' >"' Sinnott-Armstrong' W"' and Giehl' G" Su!mitted" XXXX
Aniskie#icH' 0=@=
Batson' D" 0==0" Book on emathy
Batson' D" 2;0;" Ie# !ook on emathy
Blair et al"' 0==@
Blair' 2;;9' 6onsciousness and 6ognition XXXX
Blair et al"' 2;;:
6leckley' +" 0=@:" ,he Eask of Sanity"
6ushman et al" 2;;: on three rinciles
6ushman et al 2;;X on !elief vs" intention in #rong vs !lame
Nlenn et al 2;;=
Nlenn et al" !
Nraham et al" under revie#
Nraham et al" 2;;=
Nreene et al" 2;;0 Science
Nreene et al" 2;;7 Ieuron
Nreene et al" 2;;A
Nreene et al" 2;;= .Pushing Eoral Buttons/
+are" ?" XXXX" %n .high sychoaths/ XXXX
+arenski' 6"' et al" 2;0; $$$ PUBB&S+>D $$$ XXX
+ouse < Eilligan' 0=@:
+o#ard-Snyder' -" 2;;2" Doing and Allo#ing" Stanford >ncycloedia of Philosohy"
&shida' 2;;:
J"+" Johns and +"6" Luay' ,he effect of social re#ard on ver!al conditioning in sychoathic
and neurotic military offenders' Journal of Consulting and Clini(al Psy(hology *+ (0=:2)' "
Joyce' ?" 2;;A" %n emotivism #ithout emotion
Giehl et al"' 2;;:
Goenigs' Woung' et al" 2;;XX Iature
Gohl!erg' B" 0=9A" %n EJ&
Gohl!erg' B" 0=@3" %n stages
Bink et al" 0=@@
Bind' 0=@A
Bind' 2;;;a
Eac&ntyre' A" 2;;7" Dou!le >ffect" Stanford >ncycloedia of Philosohy"
Eencl and Eay' 2;;=
%)Gane et al" 0==:"
Parkinson' 6"' et al" su!mitted
Petrinovich and %)Ieill (0==:)
?est et al" 0=@7
?est 0=@=
?est 0=A:!
?o!inson' P"' and GurH!an' ?"
Schaich Borg et al" 2;;: Journal of 6ognitive Ieuroscience on 6A&
Schaich Borg' Bie!erman' and Giehl 2;;A" Journal of 6ognitive Ieuroscience"
Sinnott-Armstrong' W" 2;;3" 6onse4uentialism" Stanford >ncycloedia of Philosohy"
Sinnott-Armstrong' Eallon' Ec6oy' +ull 2;;A
Sinnott-Armstrong' W"' < Bevy' G" 2;00" &nsanity defenses" 78ford #andboo) of Philosophy
and Criminal 9aw' ed" J" Deigh and D" Dolinko" Ie# Work( %*ford University Press' 2;00"
Sutker' 0=@;
,ooley XXXX
,uriel' >" 0=A3" ,he Develoment of Social Gno#ledge( Eorality and 6onvention
,uriel' Gillen' < +el#ig' 0=A@"
Warnock' N" XXXX" ,he %!5ect of Eorality"