A closer look at moral dilemmas: latent structure of morality and the difference between the trolley and footbridge dilemmas


Although moral dilemmas such as the trolley and footbridge dilemmas (Thomson, 1986) have been widely employed to investigate the nature of moral reasoning, but their psychometric properties remain a mystery. In this study, 219 participants completed 62 moral dilemma tasks used in Greene et al. (2001), and the correlation structure among the dilemmas was analyzed through factor analysis and structural equation modeling. The results show the following two points. First, the moral-personal dilemma tasks studied are composed of one factor, indicating that the assumption in Greene et al. (2001) was supported. Second, the trolley and footbridge problems fall into the same factor category; therefore, the difference between the two problems cannot be attributed to emotional involvement. In addition, results of the structural equation modeling suggest that they differ in engagement of the rational processing. Some theoretical suggestions were discussed.

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