Do you always know what to do in situations where others aren’t sure? You may define morality as abiding by rules, doing good unto others, following your internal impulses or all of the above. Yet according to a recent book by philosopher Roger Steare, Ethicability: How To Decide What’s Right And Find The Courage To Do It, outlines how there are six types of people in the world, ethically speaking. Which one are you?
Take this quick quiz and get an eye into your own moral compass:
1. True or false: It’s always wrong to break the law.
a. True. That’s why there are laws.
b. False. If breaking one means saving or helping someone, then it’s the right thing to do.
c. False. Good people don’t need rules to determine what’s right.
2. Being told what to do is…
- Necessary. Society is governed by laws.
- Okay, so long as the rules are equal and fair for everybody.
- Ridiculous. We’re all adults and should be able to judge things for ourselves.
3. Terrorism and crime can be defeated by…
- Harsher laws.
- A truly fair and balanced legal system.
- Examination of the circumstances that caused them, for starters.
4. True or false: Understanding people and having close personal relationships are key elements of being a good person.
- True. So long as you also follow the guidelines and rules of society.
- True. Doing the right thing is directly linked to treating others fairly, and in order to do that we need to understand people.
- False. It depends on how you treat the people you understand and are close to.
5. Doing the right thing…
- Should always be rewarded.
- Involves what’s best for everyone.
- Is reward in and of itself.
6. Tough love is…
- Too soft most of the time. There should be more tough, less love for those who have done wrong.
- Counterintuitive or at least difficult to administer… there should be more love and less tough if we want to improve the world.
- Okay, provided it’s administered fairly, we see the people in question as human and explain our course of action thoroughly.
7. All we need is…
- A set parameter to live by, so that society stays in order and everyone can do the right thing.
- Love! For ourselves and for mankind.
- Our gut feelings – we know what’s right and wrong if we pay close enough attention.
Count your answers by letter… Note which letter you had the most of and which you had the least of then look below for your combination (in order from most answers to fewest).
Protectors by nature, you care about others and enforce the rules for people’s sake, not the sake of the rules. For instance, you’re likely to tell a friend if you think they’re doing wrong, but you see it as being for their own good. While you consider larger moral principles in your approach to life, you’d be happier if everyone had the same principles, which were laws we all had to obey. On the downside, you sometimes fail to consider other people’s feelings or the importance of fairness. In other words, you’d put towing the line above the specifics of why it wasn’t towed or by whom.
You put people first from a moral perspective, promoting selflessness and consideration, not only for the feelings of others, but for the consequences of our actions. Your actions are ruled by principles – freedom, hope, love – much more so than by rules. This kindhearted, fair, humanist attitude makes you a wonderful friend, one who will often lean toward giving the benefit of the doubt rather than assessing a situation in pure black and white. On the downside, your care and consideration for individuals can lead you to lose sight of the greater, larger principles that are sometimes at stake.
Fairness is key for you, so long as it’s applied in the context of rules, laws and contracts. Along those same lines, you consider the human good only after considering the philosophical principles in question. This makes you great at solving problems and offering solutions, but you can come off as lacking empathy.
You consider it your duty to make sure other people do the right thing. You define that thing by the letter of the law, with little room for argument. Detail oriented when it comes to how things should be done, you have a very formed opinion of what is right and only if your explanation cannot be found directly in the rules, will you go a step further and think big picture principles like fairness, honesty and equality. While you’re busy reminding people (including yourself) to do your duty, you may seem cold, because you have a tendency to negate the greys of being human in favor of black and white, down the line application of your morals.
You believe that what’s right for all is the right thing to do, usually placing other people first. Of course you like for people to keep in line with the rules – they’re there for a reason, but in times of trouble, when something you feel is right is in question, you aren’t afraid to break them. Guiding principles formed by your personal thought are often secondary as you trust that the guidelines you’re following have “right” on their side.
Guided by fairness and principles, you believe that a moral compass is something we have inherently… we just have to trust it. Not one for the rule of law, you’re apt to interpret guidelines loosely with an eye for the details of a given situation or circumstance. This makes you great at solving challenging dilemmas, but leaves you open to be a rebel and a rule breaker – if it’s in pursuit of your morals and the people at large.
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