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Andrew Meltzoff talks about the moral dilemmas surrounding COVID-19, in this UW News article.

Should you help a sick person? UW psychology, computer science faculty study ‘moral dilemmas’ of COVID-19

Kim Eckart

Let’s say you have a small stash of face masks in your cupboard, set aside for you and your family.

Meanwhile, you’ve read news stories highlighting the urgent PPE needs of your local hospital.

Do you donate some of your masks to the hospital? All of them? None?

Such is a moral dilemma under COVID-19, and one posed by a new international study led by the University of Washington. The five- to seven-minute, anonymous online study is designed to gauge the perception of ethical situations as the pandemic evolves around the world. Respondents take the survey, add basic demographic details, as well as information about current restrictions in place in their community, and learn at the end how their answers compare to others.

“People are making important decisions, big and small, in this time of COVID-19. Many find themselves facing moral dilemmas about ‘what’s the right thing to do’ in this situation,” said Andrew Meltzoff, a UW psychology professor and co-director of the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. “This helps us learn about similarities and differences in the opinions and feelings among people as we all cope with this unique event.”

There are no right or wrong answers, researchers say, because the way each person responds may reflect the norms of where they live.

Ultimately, the research aims to help inform the ways artificial intelligence can become more attuned to cultural variations in how people think about decisions in health care settings, said Rajesh Rao, a professor in the UW’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering and a co-director of the Center for Neurotechnology.

Read the entire article here.