Moral dilemmas in cognitive neuroscience of moral decision-making: A principled review
AbstractMoral dilemma tasks have been a much appreciated experimental paradigm in empirical studies on moral cognition for decades and have, more recently, also become a preferred paradigm in the field of cognitive neuroscience of moral decision-making. Yet, studies using moral dilemmas suffer from two main shortcomings: they lack methodological homogeneity which impedes reliable comparisons of results across studies, thus making a metaanalysis manifestly impossible; and second, they overlook control of relevant design parameters. In this paper, we review from a principled standpoint the studies that use moral dilemmas to approach the psychology of moral judgment and its neural underpinnings. We present a systematic review of 19 experimental design parameters that can be identified in moral dilemmas. Accordingly, our analysis establishes a methodological basis for the required homogeneity between studies and suggests the consideration of experimental aspects that have not yet received much attention despite their relevance. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
The study was funded by the research project FFI2010-20759 (Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation), and by the Chair of the Three Religions (Government of the Balearic Islands) of the University of the Balearic Islands, Spain. Julia Frimodt Christensen was supported by a FPU PhD scholarship from the Spanish Ministry of Education (AP2009-2889).
Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 36: 1249-1264 (2012)