ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

心理科学进展 ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (3): 540-548.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2021.00540

• 研究前沿 • 上一篇    下一篇


岳童1, 黄希庭1(), 傅安国2   

  1. 1西南大学心理学与社会发展研究中心; 西南大学心理学部, 重庆 400715
    2海南大学管理学院; 海南省公司治理研究院, 海口 570228
  • 收稿日期:2020-06-02 出版日期:2021-03-15 发布日期:2021-01-26
  • 通讯作者: 黄希庭
  • 基金资助:

Why do people “sacrifice life for righteousness”? An explanation from the cognitive neural mechanism of protected values

YUE Tong1, HUANG Xiting1(), FU Anguo2   

  1. 1Research Center for Psychology and Social Development, Southwest University; School of Psychology, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
    2School of Management, Hainan University; Hainan Institute of Corporate Governance, Haikou 570228, China
  • Received:2020-06-02 Online:2021-03-15 Published:2021-01-26
  • Contact: HUANG Xiting


保护性价值观是一种拒绝与其他任何价值相互交易, 尤其拒绝与经济价值进行交易的观念。近些年来的认知神经科学研究证据表明, 人们之所以可以为了坚守保护性价值观, 表现出“舍生取义”的行为(如对抗利益诱惑甚至放弃生命), 一方面在于保护性价值观是以一种道义主义的绝对规则方式进行表征和建构的, 这使得人们较少进行利弊权衡; 另一方面, 由于保护性价值观与自我和道德认同过程紧密相关, 使得其被主观赋予了最高价值。未来研究中, 可以在借鉴保护性价值观的研究范式基础上, 开展对中国人核心价值观的实证研究探讨, 关注其文化差异问题, 并进行正确价值观的干预和正确引导的应用实践研究。

关键词: 保护性价值观, 认知神经机制, 道义主义, 功利主义, 逆火效应


It seems a unique psychological and behavioral pattern of human beings to give up realistic interests or even risk death for a belief about values, which reflects the transcendence of the human spirit. In psychological research, the discussion of the above phenomenon is often carried out in the context of “protected values”, that is, values that an individual refuses to trade for any other values, especially for economic value. In recent years, with the rise of cognitive neuroscience and the development of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology, the research on the cognitive neural mechanism for protected values has provided evidence at the neurophysiological level for the psychological processing process behind “sacrifice life for righteousness”. 
According to the existing research results from cognitive neuroscience, the reason why people can fight against material temptation or even sacrifice life for a particular belief lies in the fact that protected values are characterized and constructed according to absolute rules of deontology. This largely ensures that protected values can bypass the process of weighing the advantages and disadvantages when facing material temptation. It is the first choice for people to observe and judge the rules directly from their semantic memory network, even when facing the possibility of sacrificing for faith, without weighing the advantages and disadvantages. On the other hand, because the protected values are closely related to the process of self and moral identification, they are significantly increased in value importance and can mobilize emotional resources to resist the impact of external information. Therefore, when an individual is required to make a choice between value belief and monetary benefits, he may regard it as a threat to self and moral identity, stimulating negative emotional reactions such as anger and disgust to resist, and then consolidating his original beliefs. That is to say, the balance between the advantages and disadvantages of protected values may be the result of an interaction between the “cold” cognitive rule system and the “hot” subjective assignment and emotional stimulation system: the former provides the most direct value choice for individuals, while the latter helps individuals ignore the considerations of real interests through self-identity and moral feelings.
The current investigation of the cognitive neural mechanism of protected values is still in its infancy, and empirical research in this field is particularly lacking in China. The following aspects may need to be further explored in the future. First, we can learn from the research paradigm and ideas of protected values to carry out empirical research on the core values of Chinese individuals. Second, we should be fully aware of cultural differences when we learn from research on protected values conducted on foreign subjects. Finally, we need to carry out scientific research on the intervention and correct guidance of protected values or core values of Chinese people.

Key words: protected values, cognitive neural mechanism, deontological, utilitarian, backfire effect