Utilitarian judgment may arise not simply from enhanced cognitive control but also from diminished emotional processing and reduced empathy, according to a report by Liane Young, assistant professor of psychology at Boston College in Massachusetts...
The researchers' findings show there is a key relationship between moral judgment and empathic concern in particular, specifically feelings of warmth and compassion in response to someone in distress. In a series of experiments, utilitarian moral judgment was revealed to be specifically associated with reduced empathic concern, and not with any of the demographic or cultural variables tested, nor with other aspects of empathic responding, including personal distress and perspective taking.
The study of 2748 people consisted of three experiments involving moral dilemmas. In two of the experiments, the scenario was presented to participants in both "personal" and "impersonal" versions.
Via Edwin Rutsch