What would you do?
The brakes on your car have been sabotaged and you are racing down the road toward a crowd of pedestrians. If you do nothing, the car will stay on its course and kill five people. If you sharply turn the steering wheel, the crowd will be saved, but someone else on the side of the road will be killed.
That hypothetical situation, known as a "moral dilemma," is the kind of vexing ethical question that Florida State University scholars used in a new study published in the journal Cognition.
Nick Byrd, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Philosophy, and Dr. Paul Conway, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, collaborated on the research. Their findings clarified the psychology of making moral decisions.
"We are interested in understanding what causes individual differences in moral judgments," Byrd said. "If you and I respond differently to the same moral dilemma, we want to understand why because that can help us understand the psychology of moral judgment and more generally, how morality works."