An investigation brings new and illuminating data on the role of a specific area of the brain in our moral judgments. The new study, carried out at the International Advanced School of Advanced Studies (Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati, SISSA) in Trieste, Italy, found that the greater the amount of grey matter in this area of the brain, the more likely we will forgive those who have caused harm involuntarily.

We have all been in situations where we judge a person as a result of a harm inflicted in others according to the seriousness of the incident, but also in regards to the intentions of that person. We tend to differentiate if that harm was done on purpose, or it was an accident, as an athlete who has inflicted a serious injury to an opponent by accident, a driver who has met all traffic regulations but has been involved in an accident, or a co-worker who has involuntarily committed a serious professional error.

The new study, published in Scientific Reports of Nature, focused on areas of the brain involved in processes that encourage us to forgive those who have inadvertently created a serious problem. The team led by Indrajeet Patil and Giorgia Silani specifically examined the role of a part of the brain called the left anterior superior temporal sulcus —a region in the functionally defined theory of mind or mentalizing network. They discovered that the local grey matter volume in this area was directly associated with the degree to which participants relied on information about innocent intentions to forgive accidental harms.

 

Source: Agencia ID, Nature