Individuals exposed to community violence are more likely to engage in antisocial behavior, resulting in a dramatic increase in contact with justice and social service systems. Theoretical accounts suggest that disruptions in learning underlie the link between exposure to violence and maladaptive behaviors. However, empirical evidence specifying these processes is sparse. Here, in a sample of incarcerated males, we investigated how exposure to violence affects the ability to learn about the harmfulness of others and use this information to adaptively modulate trust behavior. Exposure to violence does not impact the ability to accurately develop beliefs about agents’ harm preferences and predict their choices. However, exposure to violence disrupts the ability to form moral impressions that dissociate between agents with distinguishable harm preferences, and subsequently, the ability to adjust trust behavior towards different agents. These findings reveal a process that may explain the association between exposure to violence and maladaptive behavior.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)