Publication details

Would You Do It?: Enacting Moral Dilemmas in Virtual Reality for Understanding Ethical Decision-Making



Year of publication 2020
Type Article in Proceedings
Conference Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Informatics

Keywords decision-making; moral dilemmas; ethics; ethical AI; VR
Description A moral dilemma is a decision-making paradox without unambiguously acceptable or preferable options. This paper investigates if and how the virtual enactment of two renowned moral dilemmas---the Trolley and the Mad Bomber---influence decision-making when compared with mentally visualizing such situations. We conducted two user studies with two gender-balanced samples of 60 participants in total that compared between paper-based and virtual-reality (VR) conditions, while simulating 5 distinct scenarios for the Trolley dilemma, and 4 storyline scenarios for the Mad Bomber's dilemma. Our findings suggest that the VR enactment of moral dilemmas further fosters utilitarian decision-making, while it amplifies biases such as sparing juveniles and seeking retribution. Ultimately, we theorize that the VR enactment of renowned moral dilemmas can yield ecologically-valid data for training future Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems on ethical decision-making, and we elicit early design principles for the training of such systems.

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