Assessment Sheet

Celia Kitzinger. Born to be good? (Pp. 33-34).

Summarize the article: What is causing us to behave in a moral way--our inborn characteristics (such as instinct of survival)? Or maybe moral behavior is depended on a social context/situation we are in? Traditional view that the moral behavior as intrinsically selfish is not supported by the evidence. Will we behave in a moral or in a selfish way is ultimately dependent on a social context.

Provide evidence that supports the argument presented in the article:

  • "Neither strong feelings of empathy, nor high moral principles of individual guarantee that people will behave well" p. 33. Instead:
    • Our behavior/morality is dependent on definition of a situation, i.e., "bystander effect"; or ambiguity of definitions/roles in emergency situations - not to make fool of oneself.
    •  "With numbing regularity, good people were seen to knuckle under the demands of authority and perform actions that were callous and severe" p. 34

Perspectives used: Functionalism: moral behavior is intrinsically selfish--this explanation is rejected; combination of two perspectives are used by Kitzinger to explain how our behavior is influenced by social context/set of relationships we are engaged in: our behavior/morality is dependent on a definition of situation - symbolic interactionism; we act as we are told by those in power - conflict theory.