Year of Publication
Season of Publication
College of Arts and Sciences
Master of Arts in General Psychology (MAGP)
NACO controlled Corporate Body
University of North Florida. Department of Psychology
Dr. Tracy Packiam Alloway
Dr. Jennifer Wolff
Dr. Lori Lange
Dr. Barbara A. Hetrick
As both a Working Memory (WM) task and as a more integrated reasoning process, moral decision making appears susceptible to interference by nociceptive stimuli. Differentiation, however, between conflicting occupation of WM resources and the influence of pain-induced autonomic activation as potential pathways of interaction represents a considerably more difficult task than simple measurement of WM performance. To clarify the basis of any noted effects, this study recorded both self-report pain intensity and Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) as a separate measure of autonomic activation under a cold pressor task using a sample of 122 undergraduate participants. Recorded pain and physiological data was compared to rates of utilitarian decision making in the provided moral dilemmas. While there were significantly lower rates of utilitarian decision making in the pain condition, a warm-water painless condition showed comparably decreased rates. Comparison with GSR data suggests that the pain condition did not induce a significantly heightened state of autonomic activation. This suggests that while divided attention or occupation of WM resources does effect patterns of moral decision making, this is not reliant on a nociceptive stimulus.
Robinson, Tyler, "Pain and Principle: The Effects of Nociceptive Stimuli on Moral Decision Making" (2016). UNF Theses and Dissertations. 627.