Abstract thinking skills enable people to define and operate ideas and objects that do not exist physically, and they play a significant role in culture and value systems. Being an abstract noun, the word “integrity” is widely used in different contexts (including professional ones) to define a set of positive qualities that a person is expected to demonstrate to deserve trust and make good decisions. In this essay, I define integrity as the ability to remain consistent, sincere, and adhere to one’s principles in any situation.
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All words are interconnected, and the knowledge of the etymology of the chosen concept can become a good starting point in shaping its definition. The word “integrity” was used in Old French and Latin to express “soundness, purity, and blamelessness” (Kang). The Latin word “integer” (an adjective) can be literally translated as “untouched”, and the concept under consideration reflects this meaning in a certain way (Kang). The origin of the word points at its relation to such concepts as wholeness and, to some extent, atomicity.
Integrity can be used to define the state in which a person is able to apply his or her system of values that is well-established in order to solve different tasks and make decisions in case of moral dilemmas. In this connection, integrity is related to the use of one and the same principles in different decision-making processes or being consistent. Just like many modern researchers, I believe that the development of integrity belongs to the key processes in psychosocial maturation (Goldman and Goodboy 72). The opinion on the connection between integrity and consistency follows from my personal experience. When I was a school student, my classmates and I were supposed to prepare a project together, and I was expected to fulfill the role of a team leader and evaluate each member’s work. My best friend who was in my team failed to perform his tasks properly, and it was the moment when I needed to choose between consistency (evaluate all people’s work using the same criteria) and partiality.
Apart from consistency, integrity involves independence from external factors and the ability to reduce the impact of personal interests on decision-making. A person who possesses integrity tends to rely on certain moral principles or beliefs when making decisions instead of choosing the most advantageous alternatives. In this connection, excessive flexibility and opportunism fully illustrate the absence of integrity. The readiness to squander opportunities to stay honest deserves respect, and I know a lot of people who live in accordance with the above-mentioned principle. For instance, one of my friends who lives outside of the United States works as a school teacher, and she can receive bonus payments if many of her students get high marks during classes that she gives. Despite that, she makes no attempts to simplify tasks or remain blind to minor mistakes when evaluating her students’ works. To me, her willingness to stay disinterested acts as a great example of integrity.
There is one important thing about my definition that I would like to clarify. To me, the fact that a person strictly follows all service instructions and does not perform morally inappropriate actions is not a sign of true integrity. An individual who possesses integrity does not do the right things due to the fear of punishment or the desire to be in line with public opinions. Instead, true integrity comes from self-honesty and encourages people to make appropriate decisions even when there is nobody to judge them if they violate their principles.
To sum it up, integrity presents a widely used concept that can be explained in different ways. In my opinion, integrity is opposite to partiality and opportunism since it encourages people to reject advantageous offers and miss helpful opportunities in order to stay loyal to themselves. Also, true integrity is not just about making the right things, it involves an understanding of why certain actions are right or wrong.
Goldman, Zachary W., and Alan K. Goodboy. “Explaining Doctoral Students’ Relational Maintenance with Their Advisor: A Psychosocial Development Perspective.” Communication Education, vol. 66, no.1, 2017, pp. 70-89.
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Kang, So-Young. “The True Meaning of Integrity.” Huffpost. 2016, Web.