Case Study: The Trolley Dilemma

1156 Words 5 Pages
The trolley dilemma (Foot, 1967; Thomson, 1986) garnered overwhelming interest from philosophers and psychologist in a quest to decipher the ideation behind moral judgments. In this dilemma, a runaway trolley is heading towards five workers who will be killed if the trolley continues to move forward. In order to save the five workers, a switch can be flipped to divert the trolley onto another route which would kill one worker instead of the five. Most people chose the utilitarian option of flipping the switch (Greene et al., 2001; Cushman, Young & Hauser, 2006) as it brings about a rational reasoning that maximises ‘the greatest happiness for the greatest number’ (Bentham, 1789).
Moral reasoning was first believed to be the basis
…show more content…
morally acceptable to kill one man to save five) and instinctual reaction produces deontological responses (e.g. morally unacceptable to kill one man to save five). Interestingly, there was a disparity between impersonal moral dilemma (IMD) and personal moral dilemma (PMD). The IMD, trolley dilemma, drew more utilitarian responses while the PMD, footbridge dilemma (an overweight man to be pushed off the bridge to stop the trolley resulting in his death but saving the five workers) drew more deontological responses (Greene, 2001). A functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and reaction time (RT) data study recorded that prepotent negative emotional responses is experienced when processing a PMD (Greene, 2001) as it requires a harmful action to the victim (Waldmann & Dieterich, 2007), an adverse intention (Cushman, Young, & Hauser, 2006; Schaich Borg, Hynes, Van Horn, Grafton, & Sinnott-Armstrong, 2006) and direct physical contact (Cushman, Young and Hauser, …show more content…
They were given adequate time to answer all the questions. Upon completion, the participants were debriefed by the tutor.

Results Participants in this study had an above average of NFC and a medium degree of DP as shown in table 1. Utilitarian responses made in the IMD were relatively higher as compared to utilitarian responses made in PMD.

Table 2 reveals a significant positive correlation between DP and utilitarian responses in PMD (r = -.09, df = 594, p < .05). However, there was no significant correlation between DP and utilitarian response in IMD (r = -.04, df = 594, p > .05). There was also no significant correlation between NFC and utilitarian responses in both PMD (r = .06, df = 594, p > .05) and IMD (r = .07, df = 594, p > .05).

The purpose of this study was to examine the individual differences influence on moral judgments. NFC and DP were investigated to attain a link between utilitarian judgments in both personal and impersonal moral

Related Documents

Related Topics