Morality is central for humanity. It has been suggested that our memories of past events involving moral actions contribute to shaping a positive view of the self. Nevertheless, it remains unclear how individual variability in moral attitudes fosters/affects moral behaviors. Here, we used a button-trigger task, where participants mentally simulated themselves as the agents of moral and immoral behaviors (study 1: N = 96). Helping actions appeared to have significantly faster reaction times (RTs) than neutral and harming actions. We also measured the fMRI activity while undergoing such moral actions in another sample (study 2: N = 117). Individual variability among implicit social attitudes (sIAT) predicted quicker RTs for helping actions, and explicit justice sensitivity (JSI) predicted higher warm-glow ratings for helping. Furthermore, the orbitofrontal cortex mediated sIAT–RTs association, while the right temporoparietal junction mediated the JSI–warm-glow linkage. These findings support the dynamic system framework of moral cognition, providing key knowledge on the neural underpinnings regarding individual variability on moral attitudes.
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