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.” …

Read more here.

  • Vlk

    Lol this is not science this is bullshit.

    • Chaorder Gradient

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

      • Jin The Ninja

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

      • Andrew

        It’s neurology, not social science.

        • Chaorder Gradient

          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.

          • Andrew

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

          • Chaorder Gradient

            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.

          • Andrew

            I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  • Anarchy Pony

    Help them capitalists to learn how to buy everybody.

    • Cees Timmerman

      Eternal joy can be YOURS~ for the low, low price of all your worldly possessions!

      Just promise to obey…or burn in hell.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    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?

  • anarcho

    The model is flawed,  too many assumptions

  • VoxMagi

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