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ScienceChick's avatar

Where does our 'sense' of responsibility reside or come from?

Asked by ScienceChick (3646points) September 13th, 2018

We have, generally speaking, 5 senses: taste, touch, smell, sight, hearing. We also have other senses, like our sense of time passing, or feelings of vulnerability etc…. but where does our sense of responsibility come from? We all know what it is and know how it expresses itself throughout our lives, because we often are all too aware of the consequences. Where does it come from? Are we born with it, like sight or hearing? When do we feel it and what do we do with it? What is your ‘sense of responsibility?’

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16 Answers

Zaku's avatar

It’s a combination of our innate nature and how we choose to relate to the world and society, combined with our reaction to behavior and conscious and unconscious input from our families, friends, teachers, communities and culture.

ScienceChick's avatar

@Zaku So, do you think that a person with no innate nature of feelings of responsibility could ever develop them? Or do you think that if you aren’t born with that particular characteristic, it’s not there and there is nothing to be developed? Like, a person is born with the sense of space around them and where their own bodies are in that space. Dancers hone that skill, but if someone isn’t born with that sense, will they ever be able to do ballet?

JLeslie's avatar

I think it’s mostly learned, but probably there is some genetic component, or maybe even inate component.

We learn by our parents and other people around us modeling the behavior. We also learn through experience. When we act responsibly and get a reward we nite it, and when we are irresponsible and get hurt we note that too.

The natural part probably has to do with how the brain is wired and various functioning if aiecufuc parts of the brain. Keep in mind that science shows brains can be required sometimes in some ways.

People who lack empathy, sociopaths, probably are less responsibility. They don’t have negative emotional reactions to hurting others, so they don’t feel responsibility to other people like most people do. Supposedly, in America, younger generations are showing less and less empathy. DNA doesn’t change that fast in populations, I doubt there was a massive genetic mutation, so that suggest environment is very important.

Another thing that comes to mind is the famous marshmallow study with the young children. At such a young age were they just naturally willing to sacrifice immediate pleasure for long term reward? Are they like that way in all realms, not just food? Longitudinal studies show yes, those children were likely to show the traits shown in the study in all realms even into adulthood. I would argue even in the realm of responsibility.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Millions of years of evolution.

janbb's avatar

It’s not an innate sense in the way the five senses are. “Sense” is being used differently here and I believe your sense of responsibility is almost wholely learned from your parents and your culture.

rojo's avatar

I think it is a combination of both nature and nurture.

We are born with the basic concept, much like our sense of compassion and may even be related to it but it has to be developed during childhood both through observation of those around them and with subsequent practice. It is this nurturing when young that determines how or whether this sense is expressed.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Tribalism. Back 10,000 years where you either lived and submitted to the needs of the tribe, or you died.

ScienceChick's avatar

Don’t you think it might also come from a sense of empathy? Some people, I’m sure, simply aren’t born with realising how their actions affect other people.

KNOWITALL's avatar

For me, I believe it was learned behavior. Being lazy is a pretty big insult in my family. Even as a child, I had chores to teach me responsibility like gathering the chicken eggs, helping grandma sweep or vacuum, etc…. I literally asked for a chore chart, an alarm clock and things to rely on myself.

I was raised by a mother who drank a lot, and that probably helped fine tune my responsibility. For instance, she recently told me that she was having a party in the 70’s and I thanked people for coming and said they had to leave because I needed to go to bed.

ucme's avatar

My butler said this…servitude

Zaku's avatar

@ScienceChick “So, do you think that a person with no innate nature of feelings of responsibility could ever develop them? Or do you think that if you aren’t born with that particular characteristic, it’s not there and there is nothing to be developed? Like, a person is born with the sense of space around them and where their own bodies are in that space. Dancers hone that skill, but if someone isn’t born with that sense, will they ever be able to do ballet?”

I think for (almost?) everyone, we (can and tend to, unless we’re broken, as sadly, many are) continue to develop our relationships to responsibility throughout our lives.

I don’t expect there are many (if any, except perhaps the brain-damaged) people who have zero capacity to have feelings of responsibility. On the other hand, I think how everyone relates to responsibility is a complex mix of feelings and ideas entangled with their other feelings and ideas. And therefore many people may seem “to have no sense of responsibility” when if you could see and feel how they’re organized inside, you’d get that they’re organized in a way that has them seem like they have no sense of it, but the cause has to do with various emotions and ideas that lead to behavior that tends to get evaluated by others as irresponsibility or whatever. And I think all of those people have the capacity to heal their feelings and reorganize their thinking. Just as many people probably have capacity to learn to dance but haven’t.

According to some developmental scientists, the human brain tends to still be developing capacities for understanding social responsibilities well base adolescence, particularly in males where it can take till their late 20’s to complete.

I also think that one of the common things that creates what looks like people with no sense of responsibility, tends to be experience of poorly-expressed and (often passive) aggressive expectations and requirements labelled as responsibility but are more like obligation and are full of unconsciously projected emotional baggage, dysfunction and shame.

The word “responsibility” is often used in negative senses, to mean requirement, obligation, culpability, debt, expectations or limitations, or as a way to shame, blame, or guilt people into or out of certain behavior.

In contrast, I think it can be very valuable to try to conceive responsibility instead as something positive and voluntary. For example, by accepting that I play a decisive role in situations around me by my choices, words and actions, which cause outcomes. (As opposed to complaining that situations and others’ words and actions cause things I’m unhappy about.)

ScienceChick's avatar

@Zaku That’s some pretty language. All responsibility is voluntary. Expecting that your roll is decisive is pretty ego eccentric. Personal responsibility is one thing. Collective is something else. I think I was very much considering personal responsibly. But considering a larger social group is very interesting and important.

JLeslie's avatar

^^I would say some countries put bigger emphasis on group responsibility than others. It even shows up in K-12 education differently. I think highly socialized countries tend to emphasize “we,” while America has quite a bit of emphasis on “me,” and it’s gettung more extreme now in America I think.

Responsibility is a cultural thing in a way. Norms in your family, or your town, or in greater society.

How about this for responsibility. Relatives of mine by marriage have been married for over 50 years. Throughout the marriage the husband has cheated on off, lied, and done other horrible things. My bet is he feels like he has been very responsible, because he has never not provided financially for his wife. Even when his marriage was awful, even when she has kicked him out, he made sure she had a roof over her head and took care of his kids. She has never worked, very little education. She is extremely financially dependent.

ScienceChick's avatar

I’m not talking about a sense of societal responsibility. I mean on a personal level.

Zaku's avatar

@ScienceChick I may have overstated what I meant about by writing “play a decisive role”. I don’t mean that I am the only cause, or that I can force outcomes, or that things won’t sometimes turn out terribly despite my best efforts. I mean that I choose to relate to myself as having a choice about who I am, what I say and do, and that tends to have the possibility of making major differences compared to if I choose to be, do or say something else.

snowberry's avatar

It’s not a sense such as in the five senses, but it’s an awareness of expectation or need, and the desire to fulfill it.

It’s probably helpful to point out narcissists don’t have a sense of responsibility like normal people. It’s all about them and what they want. That’s a distinct difference.

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