How does the method change what we measure? Comparing virtual reality and text-based surveys for the assessment of moral decisions in traffic dilemmas
|Suetfeld, Leon Rene
Ehinger, V, Benedikt
|Multidisciplinary Sciences; R PACKAGE; Science & Technology - Other Topics
|PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE
The question of how self-driving cars should behave in dilemma situations has recently attracted a lot of attention in science, media and society. A growing number of publications amass insight into the factors underlying the choices we make in such situations, often using forced-choice paradigms closely linked to the trolley dilemma. The methodology used to address these questions, however, varies widely between studies, ranging from fully immersive virtual reality settings to completely text-based surveys. In this paper we compare virtual reality and text-based assessments, analyzing the effect that different factors in the methodology have on decisions and emotional response of participants. We present two studies, comparing a total of six different conditions varying across three dimensions: The level of abstraction, the use of virtual reality, and time-constraints. Our results show that the moral decisions made in this context are not strongly influenced by the assessment, and the compared methods ultimately appear to measure very similar constructs. Furthermore, we add to the pool of evidence on the underlying factors of moral judgment in traffic dilemmas, both in terms of general preferences, i.e., features of the particular situation and potential victims, as well as in terms of individual differences between participants, such as their age and gender.
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