Ethics and Human Behavior

Posted by Winnie Melda on November 16th, 2018


            People are social beings who interact and present particular human behavior both positive and negative. Ethics encompass a set of principles that differentiate what gets seen as right from what is wrong in the society. Hence, ethics remain a normative field from the fact that it prescribes what one has to do or abstain from doing it. On the other hand, human behavior comprises an array of all physical actions as well as observable emotions associated with people and the entire human race. While particular traits of individual personality, as well as temperament, may be consistent, other traits changes as individual shifts from childhood through adulthood.  In a business situation, ethics play a critical role in shaping the behavior of stakeholders. They become management ethics or organizational ethics.  In religions,   religious ethics play a critical role in shaping the behavior of followers. In a social context, ethics remain a critical component to shape the behavior of society members. It helps to prevent anti-social behavior among juveniles as well as adults.

Factors Influencing Ethical Behavior among People

             There are many factors that help the society to shape the behavior of its members.  Hence, they act as catalysts to make the society a moral place that impresses socially conventional lifestyles that do not impress deviation (Oladinrin & Ho, 2016). They key factors include legal interpretation, organizational factors, and individual factors. Hence, determination of human behavior can be represented by a simple analogy whereby human beings are at the center, then, forces of from legal interpretations, organization factors, and individual factors act upon the individual to shape his behavior.


Legal Interpretations

            The law plays a critical role in shaping the ethics of people.   Such laws make people impress good behavior and to stay a conventional life. Legal interpretations base on contemporary as well as transient values together with standards (Oladinrin & Ho, 2016). In Islamic community, for instance, the values, as well as the standards, are guided by Sharia as well as the collection of fiqh judgments. Form criminal perspective, the law acts as one of the ways to shape human behavior.   The law curtails people from acting in some directions while at the same time, allows acting in particular directions. Hence, as a factor that influences ethical behavior, the law remains one of the key regulators of human behavior in society. In particular, it eliminates crime and promotes good human behavior. The fear of law makes people follow some ethical code and hence get forced to act in a conventional manner. Hence, fear of consequences of violating ethical code shapes human behavior in the society.

Organizational Factors

            Human beings are social beings.  Hence, they form both formal as well as informal institutions. Such organizations and institutions play a critical role in influencing member’s behavior. Such organization can include families, schools, workplace, and religious institutions among others. The human organization becomes a key factor that initiates ethical demand that ends up shaping the behavior of members. One of the major organization behavior influences is the level of commitment of the organization’s head to the ethical conduct.  Commitment can become relayed through the code of ethics, speeches, policy statements as well as publications.  In criminology, organizational ethics help to prevent criminal behavior in the society and promote healthy ones (Oladinrin & Ho, 2016).  For instance, people who get raised from families with strong religious background seem less likely to engage in deviance. The reason is that they get guided by strong religious ethics which change their behavior from criminality to law abiding in the society. Similarly, schools as organizations have ethical codes that are initiated by pupils and students. Such codes shape the morality to make them good people in the society.  Hence, organizations play a key role in shaping ethics of members which in turn dictated their human behavior. From criminological aspect, such organization helps in preventing antisocial behavior in the society.

Individual Factors

            Individual factors are also key determiners of ethical standards of people. Such factors include; personal values and morals, peers influence, life experiences, stages of moral development and family influences. All of them can impact behavior of an individual in either positive or negative way.

 Stage of Moral Development

            The moral development process is where children grow proper attitudes as well as behavior towards others in the society with a basis of social, cultural, rules, norms as well as laws. According to the Islamic religion, the Prophet (s.a.w) suggested that people go through two stages in moral development. The two stages include the minor or the prepubescent stage and the adult stage (Pedersen, 2015).  The first one asserts that certain kind of people is always not responsible for their behavior. They include the sleepers, the lunatics as well as the child. The second stage asserts that a person is not responsible for the actions until he reaches the reason stage.  From criminological perspective, proper moral development enhances internalization of ethics and hence, determines human behavior in childhood as well as in adulthood.

 Personal Values and Personality

             Individual values, as well as morals, play a key role in influencing ethical standards which remain critical in determining human behavior. One of the main personality variables affecting ethical behavior in a person is the locus of control. People with external locus of control assume that fate or luck, as well as other people, affect their life. Similarly, people with internal locus of control believe that they can control events in their lives (Buchanan & Bard, 2015). Therefore, values and personality which is a factor influencing ethical behavior remain critical in shaping human behavior. In criminology, individuals with negative values as well as antisocial personalities are likely to engage in crime. Hence personal values and personality remain important in shaping human behavior.

 Family Influences

            People commence developing ethical standards in childhood as a way of responding to parental behavior. Children become more likely to develop great ethical standards on seeing that family members are adhering to the high standards. When family members engage in unethical behaviors and provide an environment for children to imitate the same, then the latter becomes highly likely to develop the same in childhood and adulthood (Groff, 2015). In Islam, the Prophet (s.a.w) put emphasis on family nurturing. He said that: ‘Command your children to pray when they become seven years old, and discipline them for it (prayer) when they become ten; and arrange their beds (to sleep) separately’ (Pedersen, 2015). The family remains a key determiner of future behavior. It is the primary socializing agent for children and all members. In criminology, a family that has strong ethical principles creates members who are less likely to deviate from conventional ways. Hence, strong family ethics influences good human behavior while the opposite is also true.  Hence, families need to initiate strong ethical standards to make members grow with positive human behavior.

Peer Influences

            People who are around us play a critical role in determining our ethical standards.  They can negatively or positively affect our ethics and later affect our behavior. For instance, employees need to establish good relationships with workmates to create good behavior at the workplace (Kuhar & Cross, 2013). If good relationships do not exist any harmonious work environment will get realized, and latter, organization goals can’t get achieved well. In criminology, socializing with antisocial peers likely makes an individual to become antisocial. Similarly, socializing with ethical peers makes one ethically observant. Therefore, socializing with antisocial peers influences human behavior to an antisocial end.

Life Experiences

            Whether good or bad, particular events have a profound effect on the lives of people. They end up determining ethical beliefs and human behavior in general. In criminology, negative experiences destroy ethics among many people (Pedersen, 2015).  Such experiences raise fear, anxiety, and anger as well as revenge feelings. They destroy ethical standards and make people gain gratification by engaging in antisocial behavior. Hence, life experiences affect our view of the ethical standard which in turn dictates the way we behave in our society.

Situational Factors

People end up behaving unethically in some situations because of the presence of a way out. For instance, a company may document fictitious sales to cover losses in the industry.  This act is criminal in nature as it is a way of cheating investors. Therefore, some situations dictate the observation of ethical code of conduct (Pedersen, 2015).  Whenever pressure exceeds control, people end up behaving in an antisocial way. Therefore, the situation can dictate how observant one becomes on impending issues and end up behaving in a particular manner.


            Ethics is individual or personal beliefs about what is conventional and what is not conventional.  Personal ethics gets shaped by a combination of factors in personal ethic. Moral theory gives reasons as well as grounds that determine whether actions are morally right or wrong. Hence, ethics remain key determiner of human behavior.  When an individual gets socialized in a situation or an environment with weak ethical standards, the person is likely to have unhealthy human behavior.  Similarly, if an individual gets socialized in an environmental with robust basis of ethical standards, the individual is likely to portray conventional human behavior. To conclude, strong ethical standards can help to control human behavior.  Hence, all agents of social control need to initiate strong foundation of ethical standard to make society members to behave in socially upright manner. Without ethics in the society, crime and other antisocial human behavior will increase and make the society a dangerous place.


Buchanan, K., & Bard, A. (2015): The Roles of Values, Behavior, and Value-Behavior Fit in the Relation of Agency and Communion to Well-Being. Journal of Personality, 83(3), 320-            333. doi:10.1111/jopy.12106

Groff, E. R. (2015): Informal Social Control and Crime Events. Journal Of Contemporary            Criminal Justice, 31(1), 90-106. Doi: 10.1177/1043986214552619

Kuhar, M., & Cross, D. (2013): Collegial Ethics: Supporting Our Colleagues. Science &    Engineering Ethics, 19(3), 677-684. Doi: 10.1007/s11948-012-9364-9

Aladin in, O. T., & Ho, C. F. (2016): Critical Enablers for Codes of Ethics Implementation in       Construction Organizations. Journal of Management in Engineering, 32(1), 1-10. Doi:     10.1061/(ASCE)ME.1943-5479.000038

Pedersen, K. P. (2015): Religious Ethics and Environment. Journal of Religious Ethics, 43(3),       558-585. doi:10.1111/jore.12111

Sherry Roberts is the author of this paper. A senior editor at MeldaResearch.Com in research paper services if you need a similar paper you can place your order for professional research proposal writing services.


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Winnie Melda

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Winnie Melda
Joined: December 7th, 2017
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