A reanalysis of the personal/impersonal distinction in moral psychology research

Jonathan McGuire*, Robyn Langdon, Max Coltheart, Catriona Mackenzie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


Greene and colleagues [Greene, J., Sommerville, B. R., Nystrom, L. E., Darley, J. M., & Cohen, J. D. (2001). An fMRI investigation of emotional engagement in moral judgment. Science, 293, 2105-2108.] have revealed an apparent distinction in folk psychology between 'up close and personal' and 'impersonal' moral dilemmas. Reasoning about these types of dilemmas is purportedly supported by partially dissociable neural systems. However, further investigation of the data supporting this hypothesis indicated that only a small number of stimuli used by Greene et al. are driving the effect originally found. Implications of the apparent distinction initially reported and of other research in the domain of moral psychology are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-580
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2009

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