TheyAreNews.com: In a series of studies conducted by Dr. Antonio Olivera La Rosa, from the Human Evolution and Cognition Research Group (EVOCOG, University of the Balearic Islands), it was found that a brief exposure to shocking negative images generates an immediate effect in our moral standards, specifically, making us more permissive.
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In a series of studies conducted by Dr. Antonio Olivera La Rosa, from the Human Evolution and Cognition Research Group (EVOCOG, University of the Balearic Islands), it was found that a brief exposure to shocking negative images (such as human mutilation, disgust and horror pictures) generates an immediate effect in our moral standards, specifically, making us more permissive.
This effect happens in those moral judgments that are made after the appearance of a negative picture.
These results can have relevant implications for our daily life. For instance, death-related reports, such as homicides, terrorist attacks or car accidents could increase the permissibility by which we judge the “morality” of the subsequent news.
This research has been supervised by professors Camilo J. Cela-Conde and Jaume Rossello-Mir.
On Juny 18th, 2012, EVOCOG researcher Antonio Olivera La Rosa has successfully obtained his PhD degree in Human Cognition and Evolution from the University of the Balearic Islands with the work entitled " Effects of the time course of negative affective priming on moral judgment: the shorter the SOA, the lesser the severity", obtaining the highest qualification Summa Cum Laude.
The work has been supervised by Dr. Camilo J. Cela-Conde and Dr. Jaume Rosselló-Mir
In the emergent science of moral psychology, a strong case is made that most moral judgments are the result of automatic-affective processes. Specifically, the state of the art of this field suggests that affective responses triggered by incidental variables can shape moral judgments. Research on the emotional component of moral judgments has found new possibilities through the study of disgust, taking advantage of what appears to be a special relationship between this emotion and the moral domain. Although studies on this topic favor that disgust exerts a special influence on moral judgments by making them more severe, the nature of the causal relationship between disgust and moral judgment remains unclear. For instance, it is still unclear whether (a) the influence of disgust is moral-specific and (b) whether such influence results from specific disgust appraisals. In addition, it is still an open question whether different types of disgust inductions will influence moral judgments in the same direction. The present investigation proposes an affective-dimensional approach to assess this question. We test how affective priming (using disgust and horror-fear pictures) influences participant’s moral judgments. Additionally, we vary the stimulus-onset asynchrony (SOA) duration (this is, to our knowledge, the first research testing the effects of the time course of affective priming on moral judgments). The results obtained suggest that affective priming by disgust and horror pictures significantly reduces the severity of moral judgments, but have no effect on non-moral ones. The finding that this effect was stronger when we use extremely short exposure times (20-ms SOA) suggests that the influence of both affective primes (disgust and horror) in moral judgments is caused by a basic affective computation —quicker, implicit and probably un-appraised— that is involved in the experience of disgust and fear. On the other hand, the results suggest that the effect of affective priming on moral judgments lies in an early unappraised affective response, in particular, a response involving (at least) high negative valence and high arousal. Further, we propose this insight as a fundamental distinction between this research and previous studies of the influence of incidental disgust on moral judgments. Consequently, if we adopt a dynamic conception of the effects of incidental emotion on moral judgments, then both lines of research could be complementary rather than exclusive, solving this way the apparent contradiction in the reported results.
Acknoledgments: This work was supported by the grant FFI2010-20759 of the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (http://www.mineco.gob.es/) (Spanish Government).
More information: evocog.org