The Price of Your Soul: How the Brain Decides Whether to ‘Sell Out’

DollarsVia ScienceDaily:

A neuro-imaging study shows that personal values that people refuse to disavow, even when offered cash to do so, are processed differently in the brain than those values that are willingly sold.”Our experiment found that the realm of the sacred — whether it’s a strong religious belief, a national identity or a code of ethics — is a distinct cognitive process,” says Gregory Berns, director of the Center for Neuropolicy at Emory University and lead author of the study. The results were published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

Sacred values prompt greater activation of an area of the brain associated with rules-based, right-or-wrong thought processes, the study showed, as opposed to the regions linked to processing of costs-versus-benefits.

Berns headed a team that included economists and information scientists from Emory University, a psychologist from the New School for Social Research and anthropologists from the Institute Jean Nicod in Paris, France. The research was funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the National Science Foundation.

“We’ve come up with a method to start answering scientific questions about how people make decisions involving sacred values, and that has major implications if you want to better understand what influences human behavior across countries and cultures,” Berns says. “We are seeing how fundamental cultural values are represented in the brain.” …

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13 Comments on "The Price of Your Soul: How the Brain Decides Whether to ‘Sell Out’"

  1. Lol this is not science this is bullshit.

    • its not bullshit its “social” science… oh wait.

      • Jin The Ninja | Jan 28, 2012 at 2:48 am |

        hey buddy!  social science is valid inquiry into social control and despite it’s british colonial roots….oh wait

      • It’s neurology, not social science.

        • Sortof. The data is neurology, but most neural imaging studies of this type are using less than purely scientific assumptions to draw conclusions that will be filed under social science.

          • That doesn’t invalidate the data, it just needs to be interpreted more scientifically.

          • That’s the point though, is that these brain scans cannot really be truly analyzed scientifically. They can only deal with self-referential databases from previous studies.

            Its perfectly fine when trying to medically identify tumors hemorrhages and ischemias etc. with these techniques, but when you start talking about whats happening, rather than whats there, you have little ground to justify any analysis done.

          • I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  2. Anarchy Pony | Jan 27, 2012 at 11:52 pm |

    Help them capitalists to learn how to buy everybody.

  3. Liam_McGonagle | Jan 28, 2012 at 12:32 pm |

    People throw that word “sacred” around quite a bit without spending too much time thinking about what it means precisely.

    I suppose it’s probably one of them multi-parters–a single word having many alternate definitions, conotative and denotative, each equally valid within a given context.

    Lately I’m interested in the Polynesian word “tapu” or “taboo”, which, as its English language derivative suggests, imparts a certain forbidden, dangerous character to the person, place or thing described.

    Could over-reverence limit the scope of inquiries to too narrow a field to produce effective solutions?  Could under-reverence lead the unwary to their doom?

  4. The model is flawed,  too many assumptions

  5. What a timely study. I’m sure that data will be incredibly useful over the coming years.

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