+ Site Statistics
+ Search Articles
+ Subscribe to Site Feeds
EurekaMag Most Shared ContentMost Shared
EurekaMag PDF Full Text ContentPDF Full Text
+ PDF Full Text
Request PDF Full TextRequest PDF Full Text
+ Follow Us
Follow on FacebookFollow on Facebook
Follow on TwitterFollow on Twitter
Follow on LinkedInFollow on LinkedIn

+ Translate

Beta adrenergic blockade reduces utilitarian judgment

Beta adrenergic blockade reduces utilitarian judgment

Noradrenergic pathways are involved in mediating the central and peripheral effects of physiological arousal. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of noradrenergic transmission in moral decision-making. We studied the effects in healthy volunteers of propranolol (a noradrenergic beta-adrenoceptor antagonist) on moral judgment in a set of moral dilemmas pitting utilitarian outcomes (e.g., saving five lives) against highly aversive harmful actions (e.g., killing an innocent person) in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group design. Propranolol (40mg orally) significantly reduced heart rate, but had no effect on self-reported mood. Importantly, propranolol made participants more likely to judge harmful actions as morally unacceptable, but only in dilemmas where harms were up close and personal . In addition, longer response times for such personal dilemmas were only found for the placebo group. Finally, judgments in personal dilemmas by the propranolol group were more decisive. These findings indicate that noradrenergic pathways play a role in responses to moral dilemmas, in line with recent work implicating emotion in moral decision-making. However, contrary to current theorizing, these findings also suggest that aversion to harming is not driven by emotional arousal. Our findings are also of significant practical interest given that propranolol is a widely used drug in different settings, and is currently being considered as a potential treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder in military and rescue service personnel. We investigated the role of noradrenergic transmission in moral decision-making. The beta-adrenoceptor antagonist propranolol affected responses to moral dilemmas. Propranolol reduced the willingness to endorse utilitarian solutions involving harm. Propranolol also reduced heart rate and response times, and increased decisiveness. Blockade of noradrenergic arousal appears to increase aversion to harming others.

(PDF emailed within 1 workday: $29.90)

Accession: 036625574

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

Related references

Beta adrenergic blockade reduces utilitarian judgement. Biological Psychology 92(2): 323-328, 2013

Once a utilitarian, consistently a utilitarian? Examining principledness in moral judgment via the robustness of individual differences. Journal of Personality (): -, 2016

Beta blockers for CHF. Adrenergic blockade dramatically reduces morbidity and mortality. Postgraduate Medicine 109(3): 49-56, 2001

Acquisition of beta-adrenergic blockade by repeated induction of airway anaphylaxis: changes in beta-adrenergic receptor levels in lung homogenates and beta-adrenergic response in tracheal muscles in guinea pigs with experimental asthma. Nihon Kyobu Shikkan Gakkai Zasshi 23(2): 220-229, 1985

Beta-adrenergic blockade reduces myocardial injury during experimental cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Journal Of The American College Of Cardiology. 24(3): 804-812, 1994

beta-Adrenergic blockade reduces the severity of acute renal failure in rats. Proceedings of the European Dialysis and Transplant Association. European Dialysis and Transplant Association 12: 197-202, 1976

Treatment of Pre-Induction Tachycardia with beta-Adrenergic Blockade Reduces Mortality after CABG. Anesthesiology Abstracts of Scientific Papers Annual Meeting (2001): Abstract No A-250, 2002

Beta adrenergic blockade reduces glial scar formation in the injured spinal cord. Anatomical Record 232(4): 86A, 1992

Beta-adrenergic receptor blockade modulates Bcl-X(S) expression and reduces apoptosis in failing myocardium. Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology 35(5): 483-493, 2003

Beta-Adrenergic receptor blockade reduces astrocyte response to injury in vitro and in vivo. Molecular Biology of the Cell 5(SUPPL ): 474A, 1994

Long term beta-adrenergic blockade reduces tyrosine hydroxylase and dopamine beta-hydroxylase activities in sympathetic ganglia. Nature 267(5608): 265-267, 1977

Beta adrenergic blockade reduces gastric mucosal perfusion in cirrhotics with portal hypertensive gastropathy. Hepatology 14(4 PART 2): 83A, 1991

Beta-Adrenergic blockade in developing heart failure reduces myocardial Bcl-xS gene expression and apoptosis. Circulation 102(18 Supplement): II 213-II 214, October 31, 2000

Beta-adrenergic blockade during reactivation reduces the subjective feeling of remembering associated with emotional episodic memories. 2012

Beta-adrenergic blockade reduces frequency adjusted Q-T interval in cirrhotic patients with prolonged QT syndrome. Hepatology 34(4 Pt 2): 543A, October, 2001