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Kitagawa32's avatar

How easy or difficult would it be for you to alter your beliefs if the reward were great enough, or if achieving the desire was worth the loss of credibility that came of it?

Asked by Kitagawa32 (162points) October 15th, 2011

What if you were against something as a usual moral assumption of a societal expectation but someone, or something came into your life and changed that.

Would it be an easy transition for you to compromise your beliefs in order for you to gain the benefits that allowing it afforded you for giving up your belief in exchange for your pleasure?

Would you risk looking bad, appearing contradictory, risk losing credibility or respect for allowing yourself to experience something; that although it wasn’t in line with what you were taught was right, made you happier to be wrong and accept.

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18 Answers

Kitagawa32's avatar

For one example: If you were morally against stealing and someone approached you and told you that you could get away with it, it would hurt no one, no loss would be felt by the victim and there were no possible way you would get caught or be punished. Would you agree to it, think about it, or completely retain your values against it and never bat an eyelash?

Psychology and Behavioral science question

Coloma's avatar

As an evolving human I have already altered many of my beliefs profoundly. Whether it is through new information coming into the existing system, or, simply because it took that one last brick to crack open my hard head. LOL

In the example you give, I might agree, but ONLY because there would be no victim, not because I wouldn’t get caught.

Will I keep off the grass if the sign says so?

Yes, but not if someone has keeled over from a heart attack and I have to step on the grass in order to give them CPR. haha

Situational ethics DO have their place.

Blackberry's avatar

It depends on the situation. The question is too vague, although for the stealing situation, I would know that a lie and still not do it.

flutherother's avatar

If the situation were extreme enough I don’t think I have any beliefs that might not be compromised. That doesn’t mean I would consider them false beliefs, just that I would disown them out of necessity. I wouldn’t be comfortable with it.

HungryGuy's avatar

It’s difficult, but I have changed my mind about some deeply held beliefs over the years.

As I’ve said a few times already, I used to be a hard-core Libertarian (believing that all government interference in consensual activity between people was the root of all evil).

I’ve become a little more moderate lately. I’m still generally a libertarian (in that I believe what people do in private that’s between themselves is nobody’s business but theirs), but I’ve become a little left-leaning in that I also believe that a safety net is a good thing for government to provide for its citizens, consumer protections, education for all, etc. And of course, these things have to be paid for somehow, usually through taxes.

There’s a saying I once heard (though I don’t remember who said it or where I first heard it): Only a fool doesn’t change his mind when faced with the facts.

CWOTUS's avatar

I can’t alter my beliefs without adopting new ones. The concept is absurd.

I think stealing is wrong. That doesn’t mean that I can’t steal, or that I haven’t stolen. I’m not proud of it, but I’ve done that.

I think lying is wrong, but I’ve done that, too, and I’ll probably keep doing it.

My beliefs don’t change on those topics, though. I just can’t make my behavior conform 100% to what I think a good person should do, that’s all.

Seek's avatar

Re: the stealing question -

Frankly, it doesn’t make much sense. If you’re doing something that hurts no one, and there is no implied moral or legal rule being broken, how is it wrong in the first place?

The description is not a crime. I’d liken it to taking an apple off a tree on an abandoned property. No, that’s not stealing, and yes, I’d do it. Hell, I have done it, when my next door neighbor moved out, leaving a lemon tree.

But, if you want to look down on me for taking lemons that didn’t actually belong to me, that would have rotted on the ground otherwise, so be it.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s a classic risk/reward analysis. I can’t say until you present me with the details of the situation. I’m not going to say I can’t be bought, but I do think it would be very, very difficult to buy me.

Coloma's avatar


Are you telling us you’re a sociopath? LOL

Bellatrix's avatar

I hope I understand your question correctly. Stealing is just wrong. There is no way I am going to change my opinion on that. However, on many topics/ideas if I gain new information that shows me I was wrong, I am quite prepared to stand up and say I was wrong.

We are constantly learning. So I may have a belief that is based on ideas presented to me by people I know, things I see on the news but have no real first-hand experience and then I gain new information that shows me that the ideas I had initially, were wrong or ill-informed. I would then revise my opinion based on new, more relevant information. An example might be someone thinking all asylum seekers arriving by boat in Australia are ‘queue jumpers’. Then they meet refugees and learn more about the conditions they have experienced and learn why they decided to get on one of those boats, about the processing system and they change their ideas.

I have noticed politicians being abused for changing their position on things like climate change. I think though the mark of an intelligent, open-minded person is someone who can change their view when presented with valid information that demonstrates their original understanding was wrong. I respect politicians (and others) who are prepared to reconsider their opinions when presented with new information. I am not impressed with people who refuse to reconsider their position.

mazingerz88's avatar

I would feel some guilt stealing a monkey’s banana to feed myself but none if I steal from drug lords and give the money to the poor. That is if I could successfully pull that off. I’m also uncertain whether I could wrestle a banana from a monkey.

CWOTUS's avatar


I didn’t think so. I thought I was admitting to being human.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

My values and knowledge are the basis of my self-respect and my credibility. Besides these, I have few other assets. They are not for sale!

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’ve done this and it’s been REALLY difficult even with the greater reward part in hand. Part of me still feels most people shouldn’t try this, part of me is surprised I made it this far.

What is it I did? I stayed with an addict instead of leaving him once I realized what he was. I’ve watched him change his life and mine also. We’re in constant change and have a good life, a fortunate one but the gamble was we’d more likely have nothing but disaster.

YARNLADY's avatar

I follow a situational ethics type of belief system without the religious dogma.

martianspringtime's avatar

I don’t know, I feel like this question is relevant to how I feel about religion. Christianity promises that if you believe in a certain thing you’ll get the most fantastic reward possible – so awesome you can’t even imagine how awesome it is – and I don’t believe in it. So if I can turn down that kind of supposed reward in lieu of keeping my beliefs (or lack thereof) I guess I could do it with anything.
I mean I don’t really think that you can purposely change your beliefs if you actually believe in them. You may find evidence against them, but I don’t think you actually believed in something in the first place if you can be like “okay, it’s more beneficial to not believe in this anymore, so I don’t.”

Adagio's avatar

This question immediately brings to mind the psychological phenomenon/theory known as Cognitive Dissonance

dabbler's avatar

A lot of people confront this when facing the prospect of pre-marital sex.
Some religions hammer the point that that is wrong.
Many people find out their religion was wrong about it, and change their mind about religion.

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