Why People Differ on What is “Right” and What is “Wrong”

Why people differ on what is “wrong” and what is “right”

It is very true that most people decide between wrong and right by assessing the acceptability or lack of it, to their culture. What is accepted by one’s culture oftentimes counts as “right” while what is culturally unacceptable to the same persons qualifies as “wrong.” Human beings start learning their culture right from their infancy so that by the time they attain adulthood, their sense of what is right and what is wrong is quite developed. As such, Muslim women, most of who are brought up in families which require that women cover their bodies fully, find it difficult, or “wrong,” to venture out without covering their bodies even when they relocate from the home countries to the west where they are under little or no pressure to keep their bodies covered. According to such women’s culture, women must be in a hijab and any deviation from that is simply “wrong.”

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However, the decision to label something right or wrong is not informed on culture only. It also has a lot to do with the individual (Sharvy, 2007). The influence of the individual is most visible when such a decision brings the individual benefits or a loss or pain. Persons make decisions with the intention of achieving desirable outcomes (Camacho, Higgins & Luger, 2003). As such, individuals are more likely to judge something as “right” if the outcome of the decision is desirable. For instances, individuals advance arguments for tax-evasion, simply because showing themselves and others that tax-evasion is “right,” they save from not paying taxes. Thus when an individual is called to decide which of two actions is right and which is wrong, the individual is more likely to qualify the action which brings a positive outcome as right, and the one which does not as “wrong.”


Camacho, C., Higgins. E. & Luger, L. (2003). Moral Value Transfer From Regulatory Fit: What

Feels Right is Right and What Feels Wrong is Wrong. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol. 84, No. 3: pp 498-510.

Sharvy, R. (2007). Who’s to Say What’s Right or Wrong? People Who Have PhDs in

 Philosophy, That’s Who. Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3: pp 3-24.

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