Psychology: Interdisciplinary Research in Behavioral Sciences of Transportation Issues

Home Institution, City, State

Wichita State University, Wichita, KS



Publication Date

Summer 2021


In the trolley problem paradigm, 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. This online study asked participants to monitor a simulated automated vehicle and intervene if they felt the vehicle should change lanes. The results found that participants intervened roughly 96% of the time when the group of five bollards was in front of them, whether this caused them to enter an empty lane or a lane with a single alternative bollard. This suggests that drivers may respond randomly when forced to make a decision under pressure, which can lead to a worse situation.


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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