Emotions and Decision Making: The Effects of Psychosocial Stress on Moral Judgement and Executive Functioning
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractRecent research suggesting the involvement of the activation of different cognitive and emotion driven areas of the brain when faced with a moral dilemma have led to the development of a Dual Systems Model in which these brain processes compete. The current study examined the effects of stress on these moral decisions. Thirty-nine participants were randomly assigned to either a control (N = 19) or experimental (N = 20) condition, the latter of which underwent a psychosocial stress induction using the Trier Social Stress Test procedure. Participant responses to a morality questionnaire were gathered both before and after this stress procedure, and compared by condition based on response type and response time. Changes in performance on a stroop task were also measured between conditions in order to provide insight on executive functioning abilities pre and post stressor. Results showed that stress may be related to increased response time on utilitarian decisions, and a decrease in the number of deontological responses, but overall these effects between groups were not significant. As a whole, the results do not indicate a significant effect of stress on changes in moral decision making or executive functioning.
Degree ProgramHonors College