Morality describes the ideas individuals hold about right or wrong. Morality often governs the behaviors people partake in. For example, someone who believes in moral honesty may attempt to be upfront with people about their thoughts when they disagree. Someone who believes in the moral of kindness may attempt to be gentle and empathetic to everyone, regardless of their background. There are many ways to examine morality and several theories about its practice.
The morality advice page offers guidance on making moral decisions, understanding your moral code, and finding support when you aren’t sure how to proceed.
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Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Understanding morality may help you make decisions, choose relationships, and stay true to yourself. The following categories discuss morality in media, personal life, and philosophy. Morality is often a part of the decision-making process. When you know who you are and what you will and won’t accept, you can stay true to your values and remind others of who you are.
Types Of Morality
Below are the types of morality according to various theories on morality and humanity.
Blue And Orange Morality
Blue and orange morality is a theory often explored in media. It is a type of morality that you might assign to someone when you struggle to identify them as “good” or “evil.” It may be difficult to assign them to a moral category. Another way to think of this type of morality is the “chaotic neutral” personality type. In media, the blue and orange morality type is considered highly “alien” to humanity. For this reason, it can be difficult to apply to real-life situations.
Heteronomous And Autonomous Morality
Heteronomous morality is taught. As children, individuals are often taught that certain concepts are all “good” or all “bad,” such as religious beliefs or topics in school. As one grows, one starts to form their own conclusions about morality. They may still stick to what they were taught or have unique opinions. Developing your own moral code is known as autonomous morality. Some people are more autonomous than others, depending on their upbringing and values as adults.
Slave morality is a response to master morality. It sees overt power as bad and aims to fight against oppression. It’s a morality type that people may see in uprisings or rebellions against governments. Some people believe those in power are oppressing those with no power, causing them to believe in the moral code of fighting back for their rights and those of others without power.
Master morality is a subject presented by Friedrich Nietzsche. It involves people who are strong-willed and noble. They see ideas in “black and white,” seeing what is “good” as only good and never evil. Master morality is associated with the powerful, but you don’t necessarily need to be rich or powerful to have master morality traits. Master morality is the opposite of slave morality.
Your moral compass as an adult may differ from your childhood morals. Pre-conventional morality is found in children, and it involves a child’s moral compass being limited. In some cases, it can be found in teens.
Often, a child’s actions aren’t due to what they believe in but the fear of punishment. They may avoid hitting another kid not because they believe it’s wrong but because they don’t want retribution. As a child grows, their morality is based on personal beliefs. Morality in children also advances to a second stage, where reward is implemented.
Morality has evolved over the years. The morality of the Victorian era, for example, involved morals that may be viewed as unfavorable in the modern day. Victorian morality tried to help those who were less fortunate, but there was still significant inequality between genders.
It may be interesting to see the moral compasses of the past. Some people believe morality has always been the same. However, what people consider “normal” has changed. Due to social norms changing, moral compasses may also vary. However, a few components, such as trust and honesty, may be valued throughout centuries.
Some people have debated whether objective morality exists or if morality is subjective. People who believe in objective morality believe all humans have the same moral code, and those who stray from it don’t have morals. These people may be religious or live by a fundamental code. A more science-based approach to objective morality may say that people evolved with similar morals.
People may argue objective morality by explaining that people across the world share common morals despite culture. However, subjective morality explains that individual morality differs for each person, and the majority group does not represent the minority.
Because morals can vary from person to person and from culture to culture, more researchers believe morality is subjective. There are a few morals, such as not murdering people, that most of society follows. However, individual moral beliefs about politics or spirituality can vary significantly and don’t depend on human nature.
Morality And Ethics
Morality and ethics are often used the same but have different meanings. Morality refers to an individual’s beliefs, values, and ethics. Meanwhile, ethics are rules laid by an organization or society. Some believe that following the rules of society is true morality, while others may think that following your instincts is healthier.
Definitions Of Morality
Morality can be defined in several ways. For example, one person may view morality as a set of principles given by God. Others may view morality as a code they follow, instilled in them from childhood. The dictionary says that morality is principles that determine if behavior is good or bad. However, these principles can be subjective.
When working on your morality, focus on what you believe is right and wrong and how that connects to society. Understanding each of these different parts can help you grow, and you’ll be able to understand better what is best for you. You can also speak to a licensed professional for guidance if you struggle to define morality.
Morality is often subjective. However, talking to a mental health professional may be beneficial if you're unsure what morality means. You do not need to be diagnosed with a mental health condition to attend therapy. Therapists are trained in many psychological and philosophical topics. You can also meet with a therapist online through a platform like BetterHelp if you prefer a discreet option.
You can set your treatment goals upon signing up through an online platform and often get matched with a provider within 48 hours. In addition, you can choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions, giving you control over how you receive support.
Studies show that online therapy can sometimes be more effective than in-person interventions. One study showed online therapy scored higher in symptom reduction, quality of life, and cost-effectiveness than in-person options available.
There are many aspects of morality to consider in the realm of psychology. If you want to learn more about this topic, consider reading the articles above or contacting a mental health professional for guidance.