Tags

Type your tag names separated by a space and hit enter

Beta adrenergic blockade reduces utilitarian judgement.
Biol Psychol 2013; 92(2):323-8BP

Abstract

Noradrenergic pathways are involved in mediating the central and peripheral effects of physiological arousal. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of noradrenergic transmission in moral decision-making. We studied the effects in healthy volunteers of propranolol (a noradrenergic beta-adrenoceptor antagonist) on moral judgement in a set of moral dilemmas pitting utilitarian outcomes (e.g., saving five lives) against highly aversive harmful actions (e.g., killing an innocent person) in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group design. Propranolol (40 mg orally) significantly reduced heart rate, but had no effect on self-reported mood. Importantly, propranolol made participants more likely to judge harmful actions as morally unacceptable, but only in dilemmas where harms were 'up close and personal'. In addition, longer response times for such personal dilemmas were only found for the placebo group. Finally, judgments in personal dilemmas by the propranolol group were more decisive. These findings indicate that noradrenergic pathways play a role in responses to moral dilemmas, in line with recent work implicating emotion in moral decision-making. However, contrary to current theorising, these findings also suggest that aversion to harming is not driven by emotional arousal. Our findings are also of significant practical interest given that propranolol is a widely used drug in different settings, and is currently being considered as a potential treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder in military and rescue service personnel.

Authors+Show Affiliations

University of Oxford, Department of Experimental Psychology, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3UD, England, United Kingdom. sylvia.terbeck@psy.ox.ac.uk

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Randomized Controlled Trial

Language

eng

PubMed ID

23085134

Citation

Terbeck, Sylvia, et al. "Beta Adrenergic Blockade Reduces Utilitarian Judgement." Biological Psychology, vol. 92, no. 2, 2013, pp. 323-8.
Terbeck S, Sylvia T, Kahane G, et al. Beta adrenergic blockade reduces utilitarian judgement. Biol Psychol. 2013;92(2):323-8.
Terbeck, S., Sylvia, T., Kahane, G., Guy, K., McTavish, S., Sarah, M., ... Cowen, P. J. (2013). Beta adrenergic blockade reduces utilitarian judgement. Biological Psychology, 92(2), pp. 323-8. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2012.09.005.
Terbeck S, et al. Beta Adrenergic Blockade Reduces Utilitarian Judgement. Biol Psychol. 2013;92(2):323-8. PubMed PMID: 23085134.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Beta adrenergic blockade reduces utilitarian judgement. AU - Terbeck,Sylvia, AU - Sylvia,Terbeck, AU - Kahane,Guy, AU - Guy,Kahane, AU - McTavish,Sarah, AU - Sarah,McTavish, AU - Savulescu,Julian, AU - Julian,Savulescu, AU - Levy,Neil, AU - Neil,Levy, AU - Hewstone,Miles, AU - Miles,Hewstone, AU - Cowen,Philip J, Y1 - 2012/10/23/ PY - 2011/11/14/received PY - 2012/09/19/revised PY - 2012/09/19/accepted PY - 2012/10/23/entrez PY - 2012/10/23/pubmed PY - 2013/8/21/medline SP - 323 EP - 8 JF - Biological psychology JO - Biol Psychol VL - 92 IS - 2 N2 - Noradrenergic pathways are involved in mediating the central and peripheral effects of physiological arousal. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of noradrenergic transmission in moral decision-making. We studied the effects in healthy volunteers of propranolol (a noradrenergic beta-adrenoceptor antagonist) on moral judgement in a set of moral dilemmas pitting utilitarian outcomes (e.g., saving five lives) against highly aversive harmful actions (e.g., killing an innocent person) in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group design. Propranolol (40 mg orally) significantly reduced heart rate, but had no effect on self-reported mood. Importantly, propranolol made participants more likely to judge harmful actions as morally unacceptable, but only in dilemmas where harms were 'up close and personal'. In addition, longer response times for such personal dilemmas were only found for the placebo group. Finally, judgments in personal dilemmas by the propranolol group were more decisive. These findings indicate that noradrenergic pathways play a role in responses to moral dilemmas, in line with recent work implicating emotion in moral decision-making. However, contrary to current theorising, these findings also suggest that aversion to harming is not driven by emotional arousal. Our findings are also of significant practical interest given that propranolol is a widely used drug in different settings, and is currently being considered as a potential treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder in military and rescue service personnel. SN - 1873-6246 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/23085134/Beta_adrenergic_blockade_reduces_utilitarian_judgement_ L2 - https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0301-0511(12)00197-4 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -