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Evolution, Neuroscience

Morality: A Sexually Dimorphic Domain?

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Gender-based phenotypic differences are hotly debated in every domain in which they are proposed to exist, and perhaps in no context more so than the brain. Gender differences in moral processing has been a topic more of theoretical psychology than experimental, with little correlation between the findings of the few experiments conducted and the many theories they have tested. But a team at the Mind Research Network, University of California, Berkeley, in a functional neuroimaging study, produced experimental evidence consistent with their hypothesis that while females and males arrive at similar moral judgments, they do so by engaging different neural systems (Harenski et al., 2008). If corroborated, this could be the beginning of fruitful gender-based studies involving moral judgments and the neural circuitries that produce them.


Harenski, C. L., Antonenko, O., Shane, M. S., & Kiehl, K. A. (2008). Gender differences in neural mechanisms underlying moral sensitivity. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 3(4), 313 -321. doi:10.1093/scan/nsn026

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