Negative choices have consequences for everyone

09 July 2023
Dr Ragnar Purje has spoken out about the problem with pardoning negative behaviours.

When empirical media reporting and social evidence are to be considered, there appears to have been a long-time growing trend by perpetrators of anti-social behaviours to assume there is an inevitable pardon for negative behaviours due to social circumstances.

However, this deflection of personal responsibility will tend to have negative consequences, not just for the individual but for society itself.

This proposal has been put forward by CQUniversity education expert Dr Ragnar Purje, the author of Responsibility Theory®, who this week spoke out about social media FOMO (fear of missing out) as a potential excuse for poor choices being made by some in society.

Acknowledging the profound “I think; therefore I am” words of French philosopher René Descartes, Dr Purje declares this means that humans have free will, which informs individuals they have the sentient capacity to self-regulate, self-manage, and to choose their actions and behaviours. As such, “I think, therefore I am my consequences” is the moral mantra by which we all live.

“Research unambiguously informs that social circumstances should not be used as an excuse for engaging in negative behaviours,” he said.

“If social circumstances are used to excuse and allow for negative behaviours to take place (and persist), it is this type of thinking and social enabling, that then tends to lead to ongoing negative behaviours taking place.

“That is because personal responsibilities have been removed and replaced by third-party blame – ‘it’s not my fault’ type thinking and statements.”

He said this third-party blame is used by individuals – and at times – society itself, as the excuse for individuals to constantly engage in ongoing negative behaviour choices. 

“A recent study of nearly 70,000 people from 24 countries by psychologist Katherine Cullen found that negative circumstances do not override or take the place of constructive choices, personal responsibilities and moral behaviours.

“The immutable fact is that if one chooses to engage in negative behaviours, these negative behaviours, are taking place because humans are sentient beings with the capacity for independent thought and free will.

“Free will means that it is consciousness that provides us with the cognitive and intellectual insight, along with its accompanying knowledge, to understand that all choices lead to consequences.

Dr Purje said research informs us that when choices and personal responsibilities are understood, that is when thinking and behaviours change.