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Description: Moral Foundations Theory (MFT) proposes that morality consists of innate, modular, and contextually variable moral foundations. Despite its influential scientific impact, a comprehensive neurobiological inquiry into MFT is missing. We used fMRI (nN=64) in conjunction with a moral judgment task of moral foundation vignettes to probe the neurological basis of MFT. We find that moral judgment of moral foundations, versus conventional norms, reliably recruits core areas implied in emotional processing and theory of mind. Multivariate pattern analysis further revealed that moral foundations have dissociable neural signatures distributed throughout the cortex. As predicted by MFT, individual differences in political orientation modulated neural responses to moral foundations. Our results confirm that moral foundations rely on domain-general mechanisms of social cognition, yet are highly modular and malleable by sociomoral experience at multivariate, distributed spatial scales. We discuss these findings in view of unified versus dissociable accounts of morality and their neurological support for MFT.


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