Signatures of the neurocognitive basis of culture wars found in moral psychology data

Caticha, Prof Nestor and Vicente, Dr Renato (2010) Signatures of the neurocognitive basis of culture wars found in moral psychology data. [Preprint]

Full text available as:

[img] PDF - Draft Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives.



Moral Foundation Theory (MFT) states that groups of different observers may rely on partially dissimilar sets of moral foundations, thereby reaching different moral valuations on a subset of issues. With the introduction of functional imaging techniques, a wealth of new data on neurocognitive processes has rapidly mounted and it has become increasingly more evident that this type of data should provide an adequate basis for modeling social systems. In particular, it has been shown that there is a spectrum of cognitive styles with respect to the differential handling of novel or corroborating information. Furthermore this spectrum is correlated to political affiliation. Here we use methods of statistical mechanics to characterize the collective behavior of an agent-based model society whose interindividual interactions due to information exchange in the form of opinions, are in qualitative agreement with neurocognitive and psychological data. The main conclusion derived from the model is that the existence of diversity in the cognitive strategies yields different statistics for the sets of moral foundations and that these arise from the cognitive interactions of the agents. Thus a simple interacting agent model, whose interactions are in accord with empirical data about moral dynamics, presents statistical signatures consistent with those that characterize opinions of conservatives and liberals. The higher the difference in the treatment of novel and corroborating information the more agents correlate to liberals.

Item Type:Preprint
Keywords:agent-based models; moral psychology; opinion dynamics; political psychology; neural networks; neurosociology
Subjects:Psychology > Cognitive Psychology
Computer Science > Statistical Models
Psychology > Social Psychology > Social simulation
ID Code:7039
Deposited By: Vicente, Dr Renato
Deposited On:18 Oct 2010 11:05
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:57

References in Article

Select the SEEK icon to attempt to find the referenced article. If it does not appear to be in cogprints you will be forwarded to the paracite service. Poorly formated references will probably not work.

1. J. Haidt, The New Synthesis in Moral Psychology, Science 316, 998-1002 (2007).

2. J. Fowler & D. Schreiber, Biology, Politics, and the Emerging Science of Human Nature, Science 322, 912-914 (2008).

3. D. Amodio, J. Jost, S. Master & C. Yee, Neurocognitive correlates of liberalism and conservatism, Nat. Neurosci. 10, 1246-1247 (2007).

4. A. Caticha, Lectures on probability, entropy, and statistical physics, (2008).

5. J. Haidt, The emotional dog and its rational tail: A social intuitionist approach to moral judgment, Psychol. Rev. 108, 814-834 (2001).

6. J.D. Greene, R.B. Sommerville, L.E. Nystrom, J.M. Darley & J.D. Cohen, An fMRI investigation of emotional engagement in moral judgment, Science 293, 2105-2108 (2001).

7. J.D. Greene & J. Haidt, How (and where) does moral judgment work?, Trends Cogn. Sci. 8,517-523 (2002).

8. J.D. Greene, L.E. Nystrom, A.D. Engell, J.M. Darley and J.D. Cohen, The neural bases of cognitive conflict and control in moral judgment, Neuron 44, 389-400 (2004).

9. M. Sherif, An Experimental Approach to the Study of Attitudes, Sociometry 1, 90-98 (1937).

10. S. Asch, Social psychology (Prentice-Hall,1952).

11. N. Eisenberger, M. Lieberman & K. Williams, Does Rejection Hurt? An fMRI study of social exclusion. Science 302, 290-292 (2003).

12. L. Somerville, T. Heatherton & W. Kelley, Anterior cingulate cortex responds differentially to expectancy violation and social rejection, Nat. Neurosci. 9, 1007-1008 (2006).

13. V. Klucharev, K. Hytonen, M. Rijpkema, A. Smidts & G. Fernandez, Reinforcement Learning Signal Predicts Social Conformity, Neuron 61, 140- 151 (2009).

14. J. Haidt & J. Graham, Planet of the Durkheimians, Where Community, Authority, and Sacredness are Foundations of Morality. In J. Jost, A. C. Kay & H. Thorisdottir (Eds.)Social and Psychological Bases of Ideology and System Justification (2009).

15. J. Graham, J. Haidt, B. Nosek, Liberals and conservatives use different sets of moral foundations, J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 96, 1029-1046 (2009).

16. T. Schelling, Micromotives and macrobehavior(1978).

17. S. Durlauf, How can statistical mechanics contribute to social science? Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 96, 10582-10584 (1999).

18. S. Galam, Sociophysics: A review of Galam models, Int. J. Mod. Phys. C 19, 409-440 (2008).

19. C. Castellano, S. Fortunato & V. Loreto, Statistical physics of social dynamics, Rev. Mod. Phys. 81, 591-646 (2009).

20. R. Vicente, A. Martins & N. Caticha, Opinion dynamics of learning agents: does seeking consensus lead to disagreement?, J. Stat Mech.- Theory E., p. P03015 (2009).

21. R. Spears, M. Lea & S. Lee, De-individuation and group polarization in computer-mediated communication, Brit. J. Soc. Psychol.,29, 121-134 (1990).

22. E.T. Jaynes, Probability theory: the logic of science (2003).

23. Available at

24. R. Albert & A.-L. Barabási, Statistical mechanics of complex networks, Rev. Mod. Phys. 74, 47-97 (2002).

25. F. Wang & D. Landau, Determining the density of states for classical statistical models: A random walk algorithm to produce a flat histogram, Phys. Rev. E 64, 056101-056117 (2001).

26. M. Newman & G. Barkema, Monte Carlo Methods in Statistical Physics (1999).


Repository Staff Only: item control page