Psychology: Interdisciplinary Research in Behavioral Sciences of Transportation Issues

Home Institution, City, State

Wichita State University, Wichita, KS



Publication Date

Summer 2021


The trolley problem is a paradigm for examining moral decision making. In this thought experiment, a person is faced with an ethical dilemma where they must decide how to distribute inevitable loss of life such as deciding between letting five people die on the tracks in front of a trolley or pulling a lever that causes the trolley to switch to a separate track and kill one person. Our recent online study asked participants to monitor a simulated automated vehicle and press the spacebar on their keyboard if they felt the vehicle should change lanes. The results showed that when they had a longer time to react, they chose to avoid groups of pedestrian avatars and hit the single pedestrian avatar or move into an empty lane following the prediction of utilitarianism. This study examines whether drivers respond similarly to road bollard avatars using the same paradigm.


Automated driving, Ethical decision-making, Trolley problem, Online experiment


Human Factors Psychology



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Ethics or Self-Preservation? An Online Study Examining Driver Response to On-Road Obstacles During Automated Driving



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