Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Moral dilemma scenarios prone to biases

Date:
December 15, 2009
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
Picture the following hypothetical scenario: A trolley is headed toward five helpless victims. The trolley can be redirected so that only one person's life is at stake. Psychologists and philosophers have been using moral dilemmas like this for years asking, would you redirect the train?

Picture the following hypothetical scenario: A trolley is headed toward five helpless victims. The trolley can be redirected so that only one person's life is at stake. Psychologists and philosophers have been using moral dilemmas like this for years asking, would you redirect the train? Is it morally acceptable to do this? Experts usually switch up the details to see how different sub-scenarios affect moral judgment.

Many researchers have come to the conclusion that an individual's moral judgment in this type of scenario is strongly guided by abstract moral principles.

However, researchers of a study to appear in an upcoming issue of Cognitive Science see a problem with this approach, "Small changes in wording can affect judgments in ways that have nothing to do with differences in moral principles. Psychologists that analyze judgment and decision making in consumer behavior are aware of this fact. We applied these same methods to this scenario to illustrate that subjects' responses could not possibly be attributed to any known moral principles."

The study shows that it is often hard to distinguish between the influences of moral principles and more general biases. The authors make the claim that the conclusions of other researchers, which point to a strong moral influence, may be directly influenced by the researchers' disciplinary background (philosophy, etc.), rather than the morality of the individual.

When presented with moral dilemmas in which participants could sacrifice some people in order to save more, participants were highly sensitive to the proportion of lives saved (e.g. 8 out of 10 vs. 8 out of 40), and they demanded that more lives be saved when more lives were at risk, even though the number to be sacrificed remained constant. Participants are also less likely to support taking a moral action if they were asked to on their own generate more reasons for doing so.

The authors hope their research will lead to a more skeptical attitude towards drawing inferences regarding moral principles from studies of moral dilemmas, and that researchers will move to design other methods for studying moral judgments that move beyond the use of moral dilemmas.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Moral dilemma scenarios prone to biases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091214121525.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2009, December 15). Moral dilemma scenarios prone to biases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091214121525.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Moral dilemma scenarios prone to biases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091214121525.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Calling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a potential threat to global security, President Barack Obama is ordering 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the stricken region amid worries that the outbreak is spiraling out of control. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins