Serotonin transporter genotype (5-HTTLPR) predicts utilitarian moral judgments

Abigail A. Marsh, Samantha L. Crowe, Henry H. Yu, Elena K. Gorodetsky, David Goldman, Robert James Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The psychological and neurobiological processes underlying moral judgment have been the focus of extensive recent research. Here we show that serotonin transporter (5-HTTLPR) genotype predicts responses to moral dilemmas featuring foreseen harm to an innocent. Methodology/Principal Findings: Participants in this study judged the acceptability of actions that would unintentionally or intentionally harm an innocent victim in order to save others' lives. An analysis of variance revealed a genotype × scenario interaction, F(2, 63) = 4.52, p =. 02. Results showed that, relative to long allele homozygotes (LL), carriers of the short (S) allele showed particular reluctance to endorse utilitarian actions resulting in foreseen harm to an innocent individual. LL genotype participants rated perpetrating unintentional harm as more acceptable (M = 4.98, SEM = 0.20) than did SL genotype participants (M = 4.65, SEM = 0.20) or SS genotype participants (M = 4.29, SEM = 0.30). No group differences in moral judgments were observed in response to scenarios featuring intentional harm. Conclusions/Significance: The results indicate that inherited variants in a genetic polymorphism that influences serotonin neurotransmission influence utilitarian moral judgments as well. This finding is interpreted in light of evidence that the S allele is associated with elevated emotional responsiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere25148
JournalPloS one
Volume6
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 5 2011

Fingerprint

Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
serotonin
transporters
Genotype
Scanning electron microscopy
genotype
Alleles
alleles
Analysis of variance (ANOVA)
Polymorphism
Serotonin
Homozygote
Genetic Polymorphisms
homozygosity
Synaptic Transmission
Analysis of Variance
analysis of variance
genetic polymorphism
Psychology
Research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Marsh, A. A., Crowe, S. L., Yu, H. H., Gorodetsky, E. K., Goldman, D., & Blair, R. J. (2011). Serotonin transporter genotype (5-HTTLPR) predicts utilitarian moral judgments. PloS one, 6(10), [e25148]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0025148

Serotonin transporter genotype (5-HTTLPR) predicts utilitarian moral judgments. / Marsh, Abigail A.; Crowe, Samantha L.; Yu, Henry H.; Gorodetsky, Elena K.; Goldman, David; Blair, Robert James.

In: PloS one, Vol. 6, No. 10, e25148, 05.10.2011.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Marsh, Abigail A. ; Crowe, Samantha L. ; Yu, Henry H. ; Gorodetsky, Elena K. ; Goldman, David ; Blair, Robert James. / Serotonin transporter genotype (5-HTTLPR) predicts utilitarian moral judgments. In: PloS one. 2011 ; Vol. 6, No. 10.
@article{dc625fb450dc4ec3945fee690796863b,
title = "Serotonin transporter genotype (5-HTTLPR) predicts utilitarian moral judgments",
abstract = "Background: The psychological and neurobiological processes underlying moral judgment have been the focus of extensive recent research. Here we show that serotonin transporter (5-HTTLPR) genotype predicts responses to moral dilemmas featuring foreseen harm to an innocent. Methodology/Principal Findings: Participants in this study judged the acceptability of actions that would unintentionally or intentionally harm an innocent victim in order to save others' lives. An analysis of variance revealed a genotype × scenario interaction, F(2, 63) = 4.52, p =. 02. Results showed that, relative to long allele homozygotes (LL), carriers of the short (S) allele showed particular reluctance to endorse utilitarian actions resulting in foreseen harm to an innocent individual. LL genotype participants rated perpetrating unintentional harm as more acceptable (M = 4.98, SEM = 0.20) than did SL genotype participants (M = 4.65, SEM = 0.20) or SS genotype participants (M = 4.29, SEM = 0.30). No group differences in moral judgments were observed in response to scenarios featuring intentional harm. Conclusions/Significance: The results indicate that inherited variants in a genetic polymorphism that influences serotonin neurotransmission influence utilitarian moral judgments as well. This finding is interpreted in light of evidence that the S allele is associated with elevated emotional responsiveness.",
author = "Marsh, {Abigail A.} and Crowe, {Samantha L.} and Yu, {Henry H.} and Gorodetsky, {Elena K.} and David Goldman and Blair, {Robert James}",
year = "2011",
month = "10",
day = "5",
doi = "10.1371/journal.pone.0025148",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "6",
journal = "PLoS One",
issn = "1932-6203",
publisher = "Public Library of Science",
number = "10",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Serotonin transporter genotype (5-HTTLPR) predicts utilitarian moral judgments

AU - Marsh, Abigail A.

AU - Crowe, Samantha L.

AU - Yu, Henry H.

AU - Gorodetsky, Elena K.

AU - Goldman, David

AU - Blair, Robert James

PY - 2011/10/5

Y1 - 2011/10/5

N2 - Background: The psychological and neurobiological processes underlying moral judgment have been the focus of extensive recent research. Here we show that serotonin transporter (5-HTTLPR) genotype predicts responses to moral dilemmas featuring foreseen harm to an innocent. Methodology/Principal Findings: Participants in this study judged the acceptability of actions that would unintentionally or intentionally harm an innocent victim in order to save others' lives. An analysis of variance revealed a genotype × scenario interaction, F(2, 63) = 4.52, p =. 02. Results showed that, relative to long allele homozygotes (LL), carriers of the short (S) allele showed particular reluctance to endorse utilitarian actions resulting in foreseen harm to an innocent individual. LL genotype participants rated perpetrating unintentional harm as more acceptable (M = 4.98, SEM = 0.20) than did SL genotype participants (M = 4.65, SEM = 0.20) or SS genotype participants (M = 4.29, SEM = 0.30). No group differences in moral judgments were observed in response to scenarios featuring intentional harm. Conclusions/Significance: The results indicate that inherited variants in a genetic polymorphism that influences serotonin neurotransmission influence utilitarian moral judgments as well. This finding is interpreted in light of evidence that the S allele is associated with elevated emotional responsiveness.

AB - Background: The psychological and neurobiological processes underlying moral judgment have been the focus of extensive recent research. Here we show that serotonin transporter (5-HTTLPR) genotype predicts responses to moral dilemmas featuring foreseen harm to an innocent. Methodology/Principal Findings: Participants in this study judged the acceptability of actions that would unintentionally or intentionally harm an innocent victim in order to save others' lives. An analysis of variance revealed a genotype × scenario interaction, F(2, 63) = 4.52, p =. 02. Results showed that, relative to long allele homozygotes (LL), carriers of the short (S) allele showed particular reluctance to endorse utilitarian actions resulting in foreseen harm to an innocent individual. LL genotype participants rated perpetrating unintentional harm as more acceptable (M = 4.98, SEM = 0.20) than did SL genotype participants (M = 4.65, SEM = 0.20) or SS genotype participants (M = 4.29, SEM = 0.30). No group differences in moral judgments were observed in response to scenarios featuring intentional harm. Conclusions/Significance: The results indicate that inherited variants in a genetic polymorphism that influences serotonin neurotransmission influence utilitarian moral judgments as well. This finding is interpreted in light of evidence that the S allele is associated with elevated emotional responsiveness.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=80053605646&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=80053605646&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1371/journal.pone.0025148

DO - 10.1371/journal.pone.0025148

M3 - Article

VL - 6

JO - PLoS One

JF - PLoS One

SN - 1932-6203

IS - 10

M1 - e25148

ER -