Giulia Benvegnù

Neuroscience, Technology, and Society, XXXIV series
Grant sponsor

Luciano Gamberini
GianAntonio Susto

Project description
Investigating in a laboratory setting realistic moral dilemmas is a difficult task, particularly when the action of interest entails harming others. For this reason, until a few years ago moral dilemmas such as the Trolley and Footbridge problems (Foot, 1967; Thomson, 1986) were presented almost exclusively in textual form, which ensures strong experimental control, but diminishes realism and, consequently, limits the subject’s engagement (Patil et al., 2014). If classical moral dilemmas are unrealistic and suffer from low external validity (Bauman et al., 2014), the role of emotional processes might have been underestimated. Now, thanks to virtual reality technologies, it is possible to fill this gap and test moral dilemmas in a more ecological way. My project aims to compare the classic textual form of the moral dilemmas with an immersive virtual administration. The focus is on the in-depth analysis of the role of emotion in moral decision making, measuring it both at subjective and physiological level, and on evaluating the applicability of Greene’s et al. (2001, 2004) dual process theory to realistic moral dilemmas. In particular, my purpose is to investigate whether the augmented contextual and emotional saliency of VR technology can influence the behavioral response in Footbridge-type and Trolley-type dilemmas.