Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychological Science (MSPS)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Dongyuan Wang

Second Advisor

F. Dan Richard

Department Chair

Lori Lange

College Dean

Kaveri Subrahmanyam


How humans make decisions in dangerous driving situations like moral dilemmas can contribute to developing acceptable ethical principles for autonomous vehicles (AVs). This study investigates whether drivers make utilitarian choices (choices that maximize lives saved and minimize harm) in unavoidable automobile accidents under different time pressure conditions and collision subject locations with a driving simulator. Thirty-one undergraduates participated in this study using a STISM driving simulator in which participants responded to two types of driving moral dilemmas (pedestrian and vehicle related). Participants generally made utilitarian choices. However, the percentage of utilitarian choices varied with time pressure in the vehicle scenarios but not the pedestrian scenarios. Additionally, participants in vehicle scenarios preferred responding right over responding left. There was no significant association between utilitarianism and impulsiveness and no effect of impulsiveness and time pressure on reaction time. The results have potential implications and applications for AVs.

Available for download on Wednesday, August 07, 2024