Examples of morals include telling the truth and using manners. We get our morals from our family, tradition, culture, society, and personal values set.
Different societies have different standards of moral values. This means there’s no clear set of rules of morals that suits every situation. But below are some moral values examples that most people adhere to across cultures and societies.
List of Morals
The following is a list of morals most of us can agree on:
- Telling the Truth
- Do Not Hurt Others’ Feelings
- Fair Play
- Hard Work
- Paying a Fair Price
- Respect for Others
- Do Unto Others as you would have Done to Yourself
- Forgive Others
- Admit Fault
- Use Manners
- Be Kind
- Wait your Turn
- Express Gratitude
- Respect Yourself
- Respect your Parents
- Return Favors
- Ask for Permission
- Keep Promises
- Be Humble
- Do Not Gossip
- Respect Difference
- Do Not be Jealous
- Do Not Swear
- Respect the Rules in Others’ Houses
- Turn the Other Cheek
- Do not Take Bribes
- Use Non-Violence
What are some Examples of Morals?
1. Telling the Truth – Lying to others is disrespectful of them. Even when telling the truth might hurt us, it’s still important to be truthful to be true to our best selves.
2. Do not Hurt Others’ Feelings – While the above moral value of telling the truth is important, sometimes the truth hurts. In these cases, we need to find ways to be truthful to others without hurting their feelings.
3. Fair Play – Fair play means making sure you don’t try to give yourself an unfair advantage against others in a head-to-head match. For example, if you are an online video game, you make sure no one is allowed to use cheat codes.
Related: Examples of Integrity
4. Hard Work – When we agree to take on a job, it’s our responsibility to put effort in and work hard for our employer. We call this work ethic. It would be wrong to sit around and not do anything all day then take a paycheck for the day.
5. Pay a Fair Price – Most of us would consider it to be immoral to underpay an employee. Someone who’s desperate for work might have to take a low-paid job, but it’s still the employer’s responsibility to pay the person a fair rate so they can eat food and pay their rent.
6. Respect for Others – Respecting others has a lot of different features. It might include asking them for permission, giving them personal space, or making sure you are not rude when you talk to them.
7. Do unto Others – This is the golden rule found in so many different religions: do unto others as you would have done unto yourself. It simply means that you should put yourself in the shoes of the people around you. You should ask yourself if you would be happy if someone treated you the way you’re treating them.
Related: 59 School Values Ideas
8. Forgive Others – Forgiveness is a central moral in many religions as well. For example, Christianity teaches people to follow the lead of Jesus, who is said to have forgiven people’s sins. In the same vein, you should forgive others if they are truly sorry for their mistakes.
9. Admit Fault – Many people choose to lie and squirm rather than confess that they did something wrong. This is, of course, not very ethical! The right thing to do is apologize and attempt to right your wrongs.
10. Use Manners – Manners includes saying please, thank you, and you’re welcome. But it also includes thinking about all the taboos and customs you need to follow, like making sure you don’t tailgate when driving or letting people leave the train before you step on.
11. Be Kind – Kindness involves making sure you make people feel welcome, trying not to be rude or judgmental, and being willing to be helpful when you’re needed. Kind people try to put out good feelings to those around them.
12. Wait your Turn – Most cultures value waiting in a line (or queue) on a first come first served basis when waiting for a service. This might include waiting for the bus or waiting to be served by the bank teller.
13. Express Gratitude – In the United States, they have a special holiday called Thanksgiving where everyone comes together to remember to express gratitude for what they have. But we don’t need to do this just one day per year. We usually consider it to be good manners and a sign of a moral person to express gratitude to people who you are thankful for.
Related: The 5 British Values
14. Respect Yourself – respecting yourself means that you set high standards for yourself in all areas of your life. You don’t go around saying degrading things about yourself or putting yourself in situations where you will be mistreated by others. Self-respect is important for your own mental health, confidence, and wellbeing.
15. Respect your Parents – in many cultures respecting your parents is a central moral principle. Respect for your parents means that you will acknowledge that they have more wisdom and life experience than you and that they have the best interest of you in their hearts. So, sometimes you may disagree with your parents but, especially as a child, you will need to respect their decisions until you are old enough to make decisions on your own.
16. Return Favors – when someone does you a favor it is usually considered the right thing to do to repay that favor. For example, if your friend helps you out by driving you to an exam, then next time they need a drive somewhere it is probably expected of you that you would help them out if you can.
17. Ask for Permission – we’re raised his children to say please and thank you as a culturally appropriate way of showing recognition and respect. When you want something that is not yours, you will need to ask for permission before taking it. In English speaking countries you’ll usually want to say please when asking for permission.
18. Keep Promises – people who do not keep promises usually find themselves without many friends. This is because those people end up being seen as unreliable and untrustworthy. If you cannot keep a promise, it is usually expected that you tell the person and apologize, and even explain why it is that you will have to go back on the promise you made.
19. Be Humble – Humility is a greatly respected trait. It doesn’t mean being passive or submissive. Instead, it means being grateful for what you have and acknowledging that your successes don’t make you a better person than others. One way to practice humility is to reflect on how many people help you in your life to get to where you are today. This will help you realize that you have a lot to be thankful for and prevent you from becoming arrogant.
Related: Examples of Moral Panic
20. Do Not Gossip – A gossip is a person who says things behind other people’s backs. For example, the gossip may get information they learned about someone and share it amongst all of their friends even though the person the information is about may not want this to happen. When you act like a gossip, the people around you will make a subconscious note that you are not trustworthy with information.
21. Respect Difference – we live in a multicultural world where we share al public spaces with people of all different backgrounds, cultures, and opinions. In this context, intolerance is increasingly being seen as a moral failing. Respecting difference means being OK with sharing a society with people who have different lives, cultures, and practices to our own.
22. Do Not be Jealous – Jealousy is a natural human emotion. You might feel jealous about a friend who makes more money than you or someone who has had more luck than you in their life. A wise person recognizes jealousy within them and makes an effort to push back against that emotion. One way to do this is to reflect on all the luck and support that you have received in your own past. This will make you realize how grateful you should be for what you have rather than being jealous of what other people have.
23. Do Not Swear – In most languages, there are words that I considered inappropriate to use in polite conversation. Using those words will make the other people in the conversation see you as being unable to maintain the moral standards set by society.
24. Respect the Rules in Others’ Houses – Everyone will have slightly different rules in their own personal space. For example, one person may have the rule not to wear shoes in their house while you might be perfectly OK with wearing shoes in your own house. This is just one small example. We need to remember to respect the rules of other people’s private spaces just like we would expect them to respect the rules in our private spaces.
25. Turn the Other Cheek – Turning the other cheek is a saying from the Bible. It means that you do not have to take revenge on people who did the wrong thing by you. In secular talk, you might use the phrase to take the higher ground. This means simply to maintain your own moral standards and don’t do immoral things just because other people around you are being immoral.
26. Do not Take Bribes – Bribery happens when someone gives you money to do something immoral or illegal. People in positions of power like police officers and politicians will find themselves in positions where they are offered bribes regularly. However, this is widely considered to be an immoral activity.
27. Use Non-Violence – When you need to take action to protect or defend people, it’s always best to use non-violence as much as possible. In democracies, there are ideally avenues to seek justice without violence. Examples include protesting, running for office, or taking an issue to the courts.
Religious morals are moral principles that are written into religious codes, such as a holy text. Most major religions have moral frameworks for followers to adhere to.
The most common religious moral code that appears in nearly all religions is the golden rule: “do unto others as you would have done unto yourself.”
This moral code asks us to put ourselves in the shoes of someone else and to make sure we treat them in a way we’d want to be treated if we were in their situation.
Morals in the Abrahamic Religions (The Ten Commandments)
Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all have their own moral codes. However, one moral code that applies to all three is the ten commandments. These commandments were written in stone by the prophet Moses.
The ten commandments are:
- I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have any gods before Me.
- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
- Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
- Honor thy father and mother.
- Thou shalt not kill.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.
Morals in Aesop’s Fables
Morals have also been taught in literature, movies, and other texts for millennia. We will often call a moral story for children a “fable”. This is a story that teaches a child an important lesson about how to behave.
Some of the most famous (and oldest) moral fables come from Aesop, an ancient Greek storyteller who was born in the year 620 BCE.
Today, we still read Aesop’s fables to children. Some of the morals taught by Aesop include:
- A Good friend is there when they are needed most – In The Bear and the Two Travelers, we are taught that we only know our true friends in times of need. Similarly, in The Bull and the Goat, we are taught not to take advantage of friends in need.
- Avoid a remedy that is worse than the disease – This means that you need to be careful about “making a deal with the devil” to fix something. Sometimes, the deal (or remedy) is worse than what you were trying to fix. This is the moral in the story The Hawk, the Kite, and the Pigeons.
- Do good, don’t just speak about good – In The Hunter and the Woodman we learn that deeds are more important than words.
- Do not be Proud – People who go around acting proud and boasting about their success often find themselves falling from grace. We learn this moral in the story The Fighting Cocks and the Eagle.
- Do not pretend to be something you are not – In The Crow and the Raven we learn that pretending to be something you are not will end up getting you into trouble. You will lose the respect of the people around you.
- Do not seek to injure others or you may end up being injured – In The Horse and the Stag, we learn that seeking to harm others often comes back and causing harm to ourselves instead.
- Don’t make much ado about nothing – This means not to make a fuss about something that doesn’t deserve to be fussed over. If you do so, people won’t believe you when you fuss over something important. This is the moral message in Aesop’s stories The Boy who Cried Wolf and The Mountain in Labor.
- Learn from Others’ Misfortunes – You don’t have to make mistakes. Pay attention to other people’s mistakes and learn from them. This is the moral in The Sick Lion.
- Mind your own business – Prying into other people’s business can upset others and find you in a lot of trouble. Do not pry and do not gossip. This is the moral in the story The Seagull and the Kite.
- One Lie Leads to Many, so Do Not Lie in the First Place – We often use the term “a web of lies” to explain someone who piles lies on top of lies to protect their original lie that they told. This is the moral in The Monkey and the Dolphin.
- Treat your family with respect – If you cannot respect your family, then how can you be expected to respect strangers? This is the moral in The Master and His Dogs.
There are examples of morals in literature, religious texts, and our cultural upbringing that help us to lead a good life.
By establishing a personal moral code based on our own critical thinking, learning from others, and listening to people we respect, we can ensure we are good and ethical people throughout our lives.
Chris Drew (PhD)
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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.