The effect of hunger and satiety in the judgment of ethical violations

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Abstract

Human history is studded with instances where instinctive motivations take precedence over ethical choices. Nevertheless, the evidence of any linking between motivational states and morality has never been systematically explored. Here we addressed this topic by testing a possible linking between appetite and moral judgment. We compared moral disapproval ratings (MDR) for stories of ethical violations in participants under fasting and after having eaten a snack. Our results show that subjective hunger, measured via self-reported rating, reduces MDR for ethical violations. Moreover, the higher the disgust sensitivity the higher the MDR for ethical violations. This study adds new insights to research on physiological processes influencing morality by showing that appetite affects moral disapproval of ethical violations.

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