ASU In the News

Exhibit, research focus on ethical dilemmas

Helping a friend and telling the truth are both virtuous choices in their own right. But when faced with a decision between the two, it becomes a moral dilemma. Which is “more good” and how do we choose?

Daniel Hruschka, an ASU anthropologist, attempts to tackle these questions, among others, with his research known as the Virtue Project, now the subject of an ASU Museum of Anthropology exhibit. Download Full Image

The March 1, 2012, edition of the the Arizona Republic features an article on the interactive exhibit, “Choosing the Good,” and the research behind it – a cross-cultural study that sampled six diverse regions: Bangladesh, Bolivia, China, Fiji, Iceland and the United States.

The research included having participants play games to see if they would follow the rules or break them in order to help a member of the community. Participants also were interviewed about how they would respond to an ethically complicated situation.

The findings varied by region. In areas with greater economic security, such as Iceland, China and the United States, people were more apt to follow the rules, whereas those in more economically insecure areas tended to side with helping a friend or member of the community.

Museum visitors can follow the project’s global data collection process, see how their decisions line up with those of other visitors, decide how to allot play money to good causes, or enjoy a cup of coffee and discussion. They can even become part of the project’s research findings by anonymously entering their own answers to ethical dilemmas via computer stations.

The idea for the Virtue Project came from Hruschka’s book "Friendship: Development, Ecology, and Evolution of a Relationship."

“Pretty much everywhere around the world, people think it’s important to have friends,” said Hruschka, who is an assistant professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “A crucial way they differ is when helping friends comes in conflict with something else, like following a rule or being honest. That got me interested in how people resolve these dilemmas.”

“Choosing the Good” will run through May 25. For more information, call 480-965-6224 or visit:

Article Source: The Arizona Republic
Rebecca Howe

Communications Specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change