Resolving ethical dilemmas is difficult because people must select a response from a range of unacceptable options. Ethical position theory states that people will select a response that is consistent with their perspectives on idealism and relativism. Ethical dilemmas are usually presented to learners and research participants in the form of written scenarios or vignettes. This approach has some limitations, including abstraction of the situation and written rather than enacted responses. Multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) present opportunities for contextualisation and action that may be applied to the simulation of ethical dilemmas. A theoretical framework based on activity theory and ecological psychology will be used to develop and refine a MUVE simulation of a morally toned situation. This paper outlines an ongoing research study that focuses on understanding (a) the possibilities and constraints of the technology in relation to the simulation of ethical issues; and (b) the extent to which the simulation can be used to assess the alignment between participants’ ethical perspectives and their behaviour.
Cram, Andrew; Dick, Geoffrey; Gosper, Maree; and Hedberg, John, "Using a Multi-User Virtual Environment to Research Approaches to Ethical Dilemmas" (2009). AMCIS 2009 Proceedings. 425.