The capacity to distinguish between intentional and unintentional actions is a crucial aspect of moral competence. Therefore, the processes shaping intentionality attribution, as well as their dysfunction, are object of intense inquiry. The 'Knobe effect' refers to the intriguing finding that people are more likely to judge as intentional actions leading to negative as opposed to positive side effects, which has been attributed to the emotional response elicited by negative (vs. positive) outcomes. Whether and how emotion drives the Knobe effect, however, is currently debated. Here, individuals with low (LA) and high (HA) levels of alexithymia, a personality trait characterized by difficulties in emotional processing, judged the intentionality of actions with side effects that varied in valence (positive/negative) and salience (low/high), while their subjective emotional response and skin conductance level were assessed. LA individuals attributed more intentionality to actions leading to negative (vs. positive) side effects, and to high (vs. low) salience side effects, and this related to their subjective emotional response to negative side effects. In the context of a generally reduced physiological activation to emotional stimuli, HA (compared to LA) individuals attributed less intentionality to actions leading to negative side effects, especially those with low salience, showing a reduced Knobe effect, which was accompanied by a reduced subjective emotional response to negative side effects. These results confirm the crucial role of emotion on intentionality attribution. Moreover, they contribute to qualifying the emotional processing difficulties associated with alexithymia, and their impact on moral cognition.

Intentionality attribution and emotion: The Knobe Effect in alexithymia

Zucchelli M. M.
;
Starita F.
;
Bertini C;Giusberti F;Ciaramelli E
2019

Abstract

The capacity to distinguish between intentional and unintentional actions is a crucial aspect of moral competence. Therefore, the processes shaping intentionality attribution, as well as their dysfunction, are object of intense inquiry. The 'Knobe effect' refers to the intriguing finding that people are more likely to judge as intentional actions leading to negative as opposed to positive side effects, which has been attributed to the emotional response elicited by negative (vs. positive) outcomes. Whether and how emotion drives the Knobe effect, however, is currently debated. Here, individuals with low (LA) and high (HA) levels of alexithymia, a personality trait characterized by difficulties in emotional processing, judged the intentionality of actions with side effects that varied in valence (positive/negative) and salience (low/high), while their subjective emotional response and skin conductance level were assessed. LA individuals attributed more intentionality to actions leading to negative (vs. positive) side effects, and to high (vs. low) salience side effects, and this related to their subjective emotional response to negative side effects. In the context of a generally reduced physiological activation to emotional stimuli, HA (compared to LA) individuals attributed less intentionality to actions leading to negative side effects, especially those with low salience, showing a reduced Knobe effect, which was accompanied by a reduced subjective emotional response to negative side effects. These results confirm the crucial role of emotion on intentionality attribution. Moreover, they contribute to qualifying the emotional processing difficulties associated with alexithymia, and their impact on moral cognition.
Zucchelli, M.M., Starita, F., Bertini, C, Giusberti, F, Ciaramelli, E
File in questo prodotto:
Eventuali allegati, non sono esposti

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/690940
 Attenzione

Attenzione! I dati visualizzati non sono stati sottoposti a validazione da parte dell'ateneo

Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? 2
  • Scopus 4
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 4
social impact