Is the Bad Economy Getting to You?

A study done at Cambridge University shows that what people say and what they do are two very different things. In terms of earning money for giving another person an electric shock, people claimed that they wouldn’t in a hypothetical situation but then when faced with the actual scenario and monetary compensation, they did not refuse. When asked if a person would administer an electric shock for money, 64 percent said that they would not deliver even a mild shock. However, in a real situation with cold hard cash 96 percent of people delivered shocks to others. The compensation increased with the intensity of the shock given and the hand jerk as well as the face grimace could be seen on a previously recorded video. People seemed to walk away from the money more quickly with being able to see the face grimace of the other person than just the hand jerk. The study shows that people having to make a real moral decision as opposed to a hypothetical one had heightened activity in parts of the insula, a brain center thought to be involved in emotion. The insula activity might show a visceral tension that exists in the body when a person is conflicted between the desire for money and the desire to not hurt someone.

With these difficult economic times, it makes me think what people would do for some extra cash. Nonetheless, this study shows how important the brain is in dictating moral behavior and compassion.

To read more about these findings please visit the following website:

Written by: Melissa Marques


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