(EAST LANSING, Mich.) -- Most of us will never have to face life-and-death situations involving people other than ourselves but if that situation should arise, a new study indicates most would be willing to sacrifice one life in order to save multiple lives.
At Michigan State University, subjects were placed in a virtual world setting of a railroad switch with the assignment of either pulling a joystick that would send a boxcar careening into a single hiker or choose to do nothing and watch as the same box car kills five hikers.
Out of 147 participants, 130 rerouted the boxcar into the path of the single hiker while 14 did nothing and three changed their minds at the last minute and decided to allow the five hikers to die.
Study researcher Carlos David Navarrete, an MSU evolutionary psychologist, said, "What we found is that the rule of 'Thou shalt not kill' can be overcome by considerations of the greater good."
As for those who did nothing to save the five hikers, Navarrete said these subjects may have been so deeply conflicted that they froze, literally, in their tracks.
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