Would you do it?: Enacting Moral Dilemmas in Virtual Reality for Understanding Ethical Decision-Making
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A moral dilemma is a decision-making paradox without unambiguously acceptable or preferable options. This paper investigates if and how the virtual enactment of two renowned moral dilemmas---the Trolley and the Mad Bomber---influence decision-making when compared with mentally visualizing such situations. We conducted two user studies with two gender-balanced samples of 60 participants in total that compared between paper-based and virtual-reality (VR) conditions, while simulating 5 distinct scenarios for the Trolley dilemma, and 4 storyline scenarios for the Mad Bomber's dilemma. Our findings suggest that the VR enactment of moral dilemmas further fosters utilitarian decision-making, while it amplifies biases such as sparing juveniles and seeking retribution. Ultimately, we theorize that the VR enactment of renowned moral dilemmas can yield ecologically-valid data for training future Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems on ethical decision-making, and we elicit early design principles for the training of such systems.