Laboratory assistants have to do all sorts of terrible, embarrassing things, but surely this is among the silliest: Enter a bar in Grenoble, France. Identify people who look moderately drunk. Walk up to them, tap them on the shoulder, and say something along the lines of, "Uh, hey, this is awkward, but, would you be interested in answering some questions about philosophy?"
Such was the fate of some poor, unnamed graduate student who did "most of the recruitment" for a recent study about the relationship between alcohol consumption and ethical decision-making. In two separate experiments, researchers presented bar-goers with a questionnaire about philosophy and their state of mind; a total of 102 men and women took part. ("One participant was excluded from the study because he did not follow the instructions properly," the researchers note—a remarkably low number, considering that all their subjects were drunk.) After the participants filled out the survey, they took a Blood Alcohol Content test so that researchers could measure how intoxicated they were.
The researchers asked participants to give their opinion on two of philosophers' favorite quandaries: the so-called trolley problem and its cousin, the footbridge problem. In the first, people must choose whether they would flip a switch to divert a runaway trolley, killing one person but sparing five others; the second asks about pushing someone off a bridge for the same purpose. "A drawing accompanied the text of each vignette in order to facilitate understanding of the story," perhaps in case the subjects were too drunk to read.