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As. Drd. Ana Radulescu

The earliest empirical researches and conceptualisations concerning responsibility have been on attention of the researches special from the social point of view as an integrative structure of individual. Their interest was focused on approaching situation, which enclosed both the place of the actor in accordance with his manner to monitories his behavior under the social pressure he feels and, the way in which the actor is perceived himself in this situation. In their early work researchers started by indicating their belief than an individual perform or not perform an act depending upon the values as well as the situation in question. As especial interest was granted investigations concerning the causes and conditions that govern attributions of responsibility for an act from the person performed as well as the other people involved. Here are taken in consideration the internationality, monitories and justifiability of the actor’s behaviours that are leading with external circumstances.

There the investigations where followed the topic of responsibility in these two approaches:

a)      One of this take in consideration the studies of behavior, which have effects over the welfare of others, and the way in which people assume responsibility considering the causes perceived. Here the presence of other person was associated with a failure to act, researchers where trying to shift the field’s focus toward actions rather then meaning.

In 1968 Schwartz concluded that the behavior is produced when two conditions are maximizing: the person should define the situation like one in which is action have effects over the well being of others and, on the other hand to assume responsibility for his acts and for its consequences.

Here, the concept “responsibility” is referred to the level of assumptions altruistic norms that is rather in accord with the meaning of conformity term. In theoretical formulations the central premise of responsibility is that the behavior is maintained by its consequences and, at the same time, by the assumptions of social norms (Byron $ test, 1967< Darly & Latane, 1968).

In accord with inferences of cause perception, the responsibility is located here in the external plan of social norms. The causes of his actions were perceived as being external to him; accordingly, he is not assumed to be responsible for it, but the pressure of social power is considered like justifiable (Heider, 1958). This idea might be also expressed in term of “social power” that guide our actions by the pressure coming from an outside sources, wich reduces the freedom of individual in making his own judgments.

When the causes of actions are focused in external circumstances, we may expect from people to find different variable for action justification and for responsibility attribution by running into additional parts like defensive attribution (Walster, 1966) or diffusing responsibility to other persons (Derley & Latane, 1968). A series of studies concluded that, for these two cases, the responsibility of actions effects is attributed either to the victim in “defensive attribution” or is diffused to the others persons who are in the position to offer help. The responsibility assumption is reduced because the actor thinks that the action is not only under his control. This attribution of responsibility for an act to other person can be considered like “self-defence”. If the ethnic principles or self-expectations in the attitude as blaming him or the victim as and denying responsibility.

b)                      Another approach sees the person like being engaged in the act by his own volition (Heider, 1958). When the person decides to perform an act, the causes of his act is ordinarily assumed by himself that’s why he is considered responsible for it because his own volition provides the actions. The actor is aware about his responsibility, involves in his act despite to conformity sitting which guides our actions by the expectation of others, focusing the concept of “norm-enforcing processes”.

In front of other people, the person feels like performing an act in accordance with the social expectation. He perceives himself like an actor playing a roll in society involving himself in the action but the idea on which the act is based does not belong to him. The differences between these two aspects are that the person performs an act by conformity and not by personal involvement. Being responsible for yourself means, on the one hand to be aware for what you feel, think and act, on the other hand, to have enough power to maintain your values. This idea involves the ability to differentiate between other and your own individuality, ability that enables you to approache the relationship excluding the idea that you or another should change. (M. Nicholos & R. Schwartz, 1995). So, responsibility involv at the same time the power for stability and the power for change. These two positions seem to cancel each other, although paradoxilly they are linked together in such a composite entity, an unit. The real test is how you handle them to maintain you personally but in the same time integrate the new information and resources, going to the personal accomplishment that is a perpetual subject of evolution.

The theoretical an practical significances of responsibility arise from the following two sources:

v  Externally, persuasive communication where the person receives influences from the other in performing his acts

v  Internally, the setting of “assumption” and “differentiation of the conscience”.

This framework takes into account that responsibility is concerning both the person and the other expectations. The manner in which a person assess and assumes the responsibility is focused equally on these two sources. The importance of a sources over the anther depends on the perspective the actor is taken: either as “person intentionality” when the person is considered to be responsible for a particular action, or as “unintentionally acted” when the person action is justified by external circumstances and he is not entirely seen responsible.


Personal involvement

The target of this study is to comprehend the responsibility from the social interaction point of view. Conformely, if the responsibility practice is under influence of situational variables, then it should be a correlation between family setting as a place of sharing experience and the opportunity which is granted to the person for learning how and when he should assume responsibility. The family influences brings like only a part, but a crucial one, received by a person to the total influences, considered legitimately like a guide and a framework for responsibility. The family has a strong impact on the person understanding of responsibility by his high-authority.

The complex liaison between family influence and personal involvement is suggested by the way the person is able to achieve a high level of self differentiation, process that is assessed specialy on empirical level of functions.

The way how a person evolve the concept of responsibility does not base only on his own description in the circumstance required for acts but, also on the way the person involves into experience with others (M. Nichols & Schwartz, 1982).

The family model is enough relevant for validation of abilities and judgments related to responsibility assumption. Each family can develop different theoretical model of personal and interpersonal competence formation as an answer of social expectations. But this model should be not simply getting applied; it is only the frame of reference. For example, when a family is characterized by avoid emotional express and empathetic responding and defines the functions to establishing the rules conformation that than to learn how to monitories themselves. The transfer of responsibility from children to parents in which the parents take responsibility for both the financial and emotional life of their children, could be considered a way to enforcing conformity.

If we take in consideration the family influence in building the responsibility concept, we can appreciate on the hand the family facility, but on the other hand the family may also impede the personal involvement on monitoring his responsibility. When the family context gives to the children the opportunity to exercise equal to making decision and to performing an act, then the responsibility may be directed to assumption. The significance of responsibility is linked here not to the action itself but to the sense the person gives to it. This does not exclude the external circumstances on the elaboration of the responsibility, but are pay more attention to the deep level of personal involvement.

As a conclusion, the analysis of the relations between person and his family setting show us that, on the fundament of responsibility we have to consider the both understanding of the situation:

v  The expectation of the other person about how we should behave;

v  The self expectation in concordance with the individual values. But as a priority, the understanding about his own personality with reference to the previous experience, should be the guide in the processes of responsibility assumption.

The norm of complementarity

The paradox of human being is that we learn how to achieve the internal freedom, but at the same time we have to be more conformant to the social environment for integrality reason. These two concepts “conformity” and “freedom” are inseparable correlated to the development of personality. In the matter of fact, the content of responsibility arises from the way in which the individual is able to relate with both, the conformity pressure of society, ad tendency to be free. We should face the fact that when the society has predominantly a conformed orientation, the responsibility likely  to be modified in the case of closed system, where unfortunately the individual. This is the case of closed system, where unfortunately the individual may fall into less aware of self due to the blockage in achieving his goals. In this point, conformity does not imply the mentioned social integration because it reduces self-expression by blocking the area of awareness. R. May said that the actualization of consciousness is affirmed when the person is free to make decision in his social group or nation about things which affect him (1967).

Certainly here we have to highlight that the freedom is not source of anarchy but is a matter of engaging and the extension of the self in the world. This emphasis on freedom is actually the development of “consciousnesses of self”. The consideration in understanding the relationship between responsibility and freedom is that a person who cannot actualize himself by the actions performed will lose the significances of self. According to R May, responsibility implies “a response to” the world because “we cannot have freedom or a free individuality without same structure in which the individual acts” (1967). Freedom implies the relation of the self with world, which is based on responsibility. These three concepts, “responsibility”, “freedom” and “conformity” always imply each other even if they are located in different spheres which seem to be in opposition; responsibility requires the capacity to deal with freedom and conformity, but at the same time freedom without responsibility is anarchy and conformity without freedom drives us to lose the significance of self. This point arises from the fact that “we became more social while at the same time becoming more individual and unique” (Damon, 1988). On our confronting with this paradox we are getting our significance, exploring and developing our capacity to know and to understand the world we live because we are the only ones who can take that responsibility. The capacity for assuming responsibility depends on our growth in experience and strength to keep our own values.

According to R. May the triangle freedom-conformity-responsibility, implies person’s capacity to be aware of himself in the social/historical development. This means that the accomplishment of self is expressed in term of the continuous increase of person’s capacity to experience the commitment by moving from self to society and from society to self.

This occurs when the society will not emphasize the pressure toward conformity and it maintains basic self-requirement for achievement. The conformity should relate to self – needs in the social-historical development. When the total society’s pressure operates toward strong conformity, the self-awareness and the self accomplishment are reduced.



v  Secord, P & Backman, C. “Social Psychology”, 1974, McGraw-Hill.Inc.

v  Nichols, M, & Schwartz, R, “Family Therapy”, 1955, allyn and Bacon.

v  Rollo May, “Psychology and The Human Dilema”, 1967, D. Van Nostrand Company.


Those who love their neighbors know what means suffering for the other (or together with him) when there is a fall or trouble. But more suffering is when he learns that their neighbors are fallen, still finding them in deceit. Why is this worse than the first ? For the first case, the person realizes the fallen and he cries deed (and much more useful when others join in to help) while the second is not as aware as the first.

Often, we are tempted to judge people who fall in sin. This makes us forget all duty to love our neighbor, the duty to love God and to see our own helplessness. We are so affected when we hear that the loved one (be it friend, wife / husband, relative etc.) is in such situation that we tear the heart and cry[1]. But when we hear or see the sin of a stranger, we turn into robots and start to ‘butcher’ context, cause and how could this happen (sometimes even the man soul). Pity us and our sins as we are far below them.

Crying was and is one thing that saved us from the clutches of evil and the depths of hell. Let us remember the Apostle Peter’s denial when he “wept bitterly”[2] for sin committed, thereby showing the great love the Savior bore. And so, getting to love everyone, you bet to cry for them as indeed did the saints.

But we are not yet at that level. That’s why we talk about the problems we face every day. How many times do we cry when we see our neighbor “down” ? But why speaking of crying ? When do we feel remorse and sorrow for him ? It happens to weep when we hear something from a close person fallen who is not aware of the situation he finds himself. He/She needs help and if we do not offer it, who then ? Perhaps those who judge from appearances ? Use these moments to the fullest because there are few. It will be to his/her benefit and ours.

“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”[3]

We will benefit from crying not only here but also in heaven, comfort will get those who mourn for himself but also those who mourn for the sins of others. Thears for the other means to understand that anytime you can be in that place. “Carry each other’s burdens” – I felt the weight hitting me when I learned that a person (that I knew) perverted and dirtied his being and heart (or was going to do it), his sensitive being who must remain “a great gift and the greatest wealth”[4].

Autor: PutereOrtodoxa
Traducere: prof. Mihaela Henciu

[1]Humble heart God will not despise.

[2] Lc. 22; 62 and Mt, 26; 75

[3] Mathew 5; 4

[4] Cf. 222 Spiritual advice, Printed with the blessing of I. P. S. Pimen, pg. 24, word 79


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