Is it okay to sacrifice one person to save many? How you answer depends on where you’re from.

By Sigal Samuel

Who’s more likely to throw you in front of a runaway trolley in order to save a bunch of people’s lives—someone from America or someone from China?

That might sound like a bizarre question, but psychologists and philosophers are interested in it because it helps us get at an underlying question: To what extent does our cultural context shape our morality?

We now have a ton of new data on this, thanks to a cross-cultural study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. By getting 70,000 participants in 42 countries to respond to sacrificial moral dilemmas—the largest study of this kind to date—an international team of psychologists was able to show how culture influences moral decision-making.

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