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Cultural Values And Personal Ethics

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Cultural Values and Personal Ethics

John R. Trevisan

University of Phoenix


This paper examines the correlation between cultural values and personal ethics. Supporting documents include, Comparing Ideologies Across America (Catherine N. Axinn, M. Elizabeth Blair, Alla Heorhiadi, and Sharon V. Thach. (1996) and Examining Leadership Strategies for Establishing an Organizational Climate Regarding Ethics, Michael W.Grojean, Christian J. Resick, Marcus W. Dickson, D. Brent Smith. (2004).

Cultural values and personal ethics are something that affects almost every area of our professional and personal lives. They affect everything from how we interact with our families to how we approach our occupation. I do not believe that there should be a distinction between the two. Encarta defines cultural values as "the accepted principles or standards of an individual or group," while ethics is defined as "principles or standards of human conduct, sometimes called morals, and, by extension, the study of such principles, sometimes called moral philosophy." We should approach both our personal and our professional lives with the same tenacity and personal pride.

However, I do not think that we approach both in the same way. I think some attribute different values to each, with some placing more value on family and friends, while others assign more value to their occupation or education. There must be a delicate balance between the two, with both deserving a distinctive and an individual form of importance, depending on the situation. According to Forsyth (1980), "Relativists generally feel that moral actions depend on the nature of the situation." Nevertheless, the approach to both must be the same for a balanced lifestyle. A study done on personal values and personal ethics concluded the fact that cultural values are a universal truth, and that personal ethics determine the course of many decisions. (Axinm, Blair, Heorhiadli, and Thatch, 1996.)

If I look at my own cultural values, I must identify my family as being most important to me. My family is who instilled my personal values. My family is something I value tremendously and something I perceive as a thing I could not live without. My family takes priority in most situations that I encounter. Therefore, many of my decisions are made with my family being the number one determining factor, and my family is who instilled my own personal ethics. For example, my decision to return to school for my master's degree was something they helped me decide, since I could not have made the decision without the support of my family.

Personal, organizational, and cultural values affect many different areas of my life. I define my personal values as those which I hold dear, things which I place close to my heart and that are part of who I am. Personal values define who I am. They can be something as basic as the Ten Commandments. They are rules to live by, and I believe that they have helped guide my definition of self. The ideas of "Thou shalt not kill" or "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife" are not specifically unique to the Christian church. They are values that everyone should live by, regardless of religion. They affect how I act, what I do, and how I respond to others.

Personal values can also be how a group expects you to behave. For example, if you are part of an Alcoholic's Anonymous group, you are expected not indulge



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