Is It Okay to Sacrifice One Person to Save Many? How You Answer Depends On Where You’re From
Who’s more likely to throw you in front of a runaway trolley in order to save a bunch of people’s lives — someone from America or someone from China? That might sound like a bizarre question, but psychologists and philosophers are interested in it because it helps us get at an underlying question: To what extent does our cultural context shape our morality? We now have a ton of new data on this, thanks to a cross-cultural study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. By getting 70,000 participants in 42 countries to respond to sacrificial moral dilemmas — the largest study of this kind to date — an international team of psychologists was able to show how culture influences moral decision-making.