Determining whether or not someone is a lousy person isn't easy. Most people have the capacity for good and bad behavior.
When we're judging others, Dr. Maury Joseph, a psychologist in Washington, D.C., says we must consider the context of their actions.
"If a person makes the only choice available to them, based on their developmental history, the prejudices of the country in which they were born, and their current environment, does that make them bad?" Joseph asks.
Everyone has a backstory that explains why they act a certain way. Can we convict them without it? Let's do a test.
Here's a list of situations in which the internet (most notably, this subreddit) thought individuals proved themselves to be rotten from the inside. Upvote the ones you agree with and let's see if there are deeds that don't need the context Maury Joseph was talking about to earn you some pretty nasty labels.
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In a 2018 research paper, psychologists M. Moshagen, B. E. Hilbig, and I. Zettler suggest that what they call "D," or the dark factor of personality, lies at the root of unethical or cruel behavior.
D-factor traits include narcissism and psychopathy, along with:
- moral disengagement
All of these traits imply that someone will pursue their own interests at the expense of others.
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Maybe you’ve noticed some D-factor traits not only in these pictures but in your behavior as well. However, that does not automatically make you a bad person.
Many of the choices you make affect people besides yourself, so before you do something (especially if you have doubts about whether it’s the right thing to do), it's wise to stop and consider whether your action might hurt someone else.
Passing on a workplace rumor to your boss, for example, could make you look good, but it certainly won’t help your coworker — especially if the rumor turns out to be a lie.
But if you don't care about the potential impact as long as you benefit, or you have a hard time considering consequences for others, you might want to explore your personality a bit deeper.
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A good follow-up question to ask yourself would be "do you take time to consider the emotions of people around you in everyday life?"
Showing interest in the well-being of others is vital to maintaining interpersonal relationships. And it usually doesn’t take much to demonstrate that you care. It's often enough just to offer emotional support or a listening ear.
But if you feel indifferent, or if you believe others deserve the distress they experience, you might benefit from talking to a therapist.