Research press release


Nature Human Behaviour

The moral judgment of terrorists



今回の研究でSandra Baezたちは、テロ行為の罪で投獄されたコロンビア人(全員が殺人罪で起訴され、1人あたりの犠牲者数は平均33人)の右派民兵組織に属する66人と、社会人口学的にマッチさせた非犯罪者(対照群)66人、および投獄中の殺人犯13人を対象に一連の認知・心理テストを行った。テストでは、道徳的認知、知能指数(IQ)、実行機能、攻撃的行動、情動認識が評価された。その結果、テロリストは非犯罪者と比較して、高いレベルの攻撃性および低いレベルの情動認識を示すが、道徳的認知にみられる差は、テロリストと対照群のあいだで著しく大きかった。Baezたちは、テロリストは他者の行為が道徳的に許容されるか否かを判断する際、対照群についてみられるように意図と結果の両方を統合するのではなく、主に結果に注目するということを明らかにした。この知見は、テロリストの行動規範が、手段よりも目的を重視することを示唆していると論文では指摘されている。


Terrorist moral judgments are guided by an abnormal overreliance on outcomes, suggests a paper published online this week in Nature Human Behaviour.

Terrorist acts are widely viewed by normal society as being morally impermissible, but terrorists justify their acts by the logic that the ends justify the means. However, how terrorists perceive this trade-off and make moral judgments is not fully understood. Typical adult moral judgment depends on a person’s ability to represent and integrate information about the intentions and consequences of actions. In many cases, moral judgment is determined primarily by intention; however, when intention and outcome are in conflict, moral judgments are normally made by considering both factors.

In this study, Sandra Baez and colleagues conducted a battery of cognitive and psychological tests on 66 Colombian right-wing paramilitaries who were imprisoned for committing terrorist acts (all were convicted of murder, with a mean of 33 victims per subject), 66 sociodemographically matched non-criminals (controls) and 13 incarcerated murderers. The tests included assessments of moral cognition, IQ, executive functioning, aggressive behaviour, and emotion recognition. They find that terrorists exhibit higher levels of aggression and lower levels of emotion recognition than non-criminals, but that a difference in moral cognition most strongly distinguishes terrorists from the other groups. The authors find that terrorists, when judging whether the actions of others are morally permissible, primarily focus on outcomes, rather than integrating both intentions and outcomes like the controls do. This result, the authors note, suggests that a terrorist’s moral code prioritizes ends over means.

They conclude that this pattern of skewed moral judgment is an important component of the terrorist profile, but further research is needed to understand its origins and changes over time.

doi: 10.1038/s41562-017-0118

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