The Moral Gray Zone


| 2/10/2014 10:59:00 AM


Tags: morality, context, Greater Good Science Center,

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How context influences our sense of right and wrong.

How do we make life meaningful? That question is at the core of a growing multidisciplinary movement focused on empathy, compassion, gratitude, and how to invite them into our daily lives. At the close of 2013, a crew at Greater Good—the online magazine of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center—culled and summarized the findings of ten notable happiness studies published last year. “The Top 10 Insights from the ‘Science of a Meaningful Life’ in 2013” originally appeared at Greater Good. This is part nine of ten (part eight).


An out-of-control train will kill five people. You can switch the train onto another track and save them—but doing so will kill one person. What should you do?

 

A series of experiments published in the journal Psychological Science suggests that on one day you’ll divert the train and save those five lives—but on another you might not. It all depends on how the dilemma is framed and how we’ve been thinking about ourselves.