Brain reacts automatically to moral wrongs

Courts deal more harshly with people who actively commit harm, rather than people who allow harm to occur, according to a new study from Brown University.

The moral distinction between actively causing harm and passively allowing the same harm to occur requires conscious reasoning.

Researchers presented 35 volunteers with moral dilemmas in which the same harm is caused either by active action or passive inaction while their brains were monitored with MRI scans.

The scenarios that involved someone actively harming another are perceived almost automatically as morally wrong, while passive harm requires more controlled thinking to be perceived as wrong.

Read more at Brown University