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Anticipation of guilt for everyday moral transgressions: The role of the anterior insula and the influence of interpersonal psychopathic traits

Seara-Cardoso, A; Sebastian, CL; McCrory, E; Foulkes, L; Buon, M; Roiser, JP; Viding, E; (2016) Anticipation of guilt for everyday moral transgressions: The role of the anterior insula and the influence of interpersonal psychopathic traits. Scientific Reports , 6 , Article 36273. 10.1038/srep36273. Green open access

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Abstract

Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterised by atypical moral behaviour likely rooted in atypical affective/motivational processing, as opposed to an inability to judge the wrongness of an action. Guilt is a moral emotion believed to play a crucial role in adherence to moral and social norms, but the mechanisms by which guilt (or lack thereof) may influence behaviour in individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits are unclear. We measured neural responses during the anticipation of guilt about committing potential everyday moral transgressions, and tested the extent to which these varied with psychopathic traits. We found a significant interaction between the degree to which anticipated guilt was modulated in the anterior insula and interpersonal psychopathic traits: anterior insula modulation of anticipated guilt was weaker in individuals with higher levels of these traits. Data from a second sample confirmed that this pattern of findings was specific to the modulation of anticipated guilt and not related to the perceived wrongness of the transgression. These results suggest a central role for the anterior insula in coding the anticipation of guilt regarding potential moral transgressions and advance our understanding of the neurocognitive mechanisms that may underlie propensity to antisocial behaviour.

Type: Article
Title: Anticipation of guilt for everyday moral transgressions: The role of the anterior insula and the influence of interpersonal psychopathic traits
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/srep36273
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep36273
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Human behaviour, Insula, Morality, Personality, Social behaviour
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1528809
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