Are Corporations Viewed as People? Measuring Neurological Responses to Corporate Moral Judgments

Another great study in moral psychology, was recently published in Social Neuroscience looking at the neural correlates of moral judgements in individuals who viewed vignettes about individual and corporate moral decisions. Full article accessible here.


To investigate whether the legal concept of corporate personhoodmirrors an inherent similarity in the neural processing of the actions of corporations and people, we measured brain responses to vignettes about corporations and people while participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging. We found that anti-social actions of corporations elicited more intense negative emotions and that pro-social actions of people elicited more intense positive emotions. However, the networks underlying the moral decisions about corporations and people are strikingly similar, including regions of the canonical theory of mind network. In analyzing the activity in these networks, we found differences in the emotional processing of these two types of vignettes: neutral actions of corporations showed neural correlates that more closely resembled negative actions than positive actions. Collectively, these findings indicate that our brains understand and analyze the actions of corporations and people very similarly, with a small emotional bias against corporations.


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