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Study to evaluate moral dilemmas

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur are conducting a 3-minute online survey to determine how people react to a tangible dilemma.

SNS | New Delhi |

Imagine a situation where you are walking down a highway and a truck laden with essential supplies stops to ask for directions. The driver shows all symptoms of Covid-19. Do you give him the directions he seeks or report him immediately to the Covid-19 helpline? If you give him directions, supplies reach needy people. But if you do so, you also potentially expose many people to infection.

As Covid-19 grips the world, such choices confront citizens on a regular basis. Philosophers and psychologists have been observing how we match up safety versus welfare for a long time. One of the famous thought experiments, the Trolley Problem (which has also become a meme in popular culture!), has been a guiding light to study this question.

This dilemma can be stated as such: A runaway trolley is hurtling down a track where 5 workmen are tied onto the rails. You are standing nearby and see a lever which if pulled can swerve the trolley to a different track. But if you divert the trolley, 1 workman on that track is going to be killed. Would you pull the lever to divert and kill 1 workman and save the 5 others? Or would you let the trolley continue on its course and kill 5 people? And what if instead of one workman on tracks, it was a friend or a family-member of yours? Do you see your previously morally choice changing?

Now, researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur are conducting a 3-minute online survey to determine how people react to a tangible dilemma. The study seeks to unravel aspects of the human psyche in its struggle with the environment. The researchers invite people to participate in the survey by visiting srivalab.cse.iitk.ac.in/pd/pandemic.html