What Should You Do vs. What Would You Do

 / 

,

Sometimes there is a thin line between the ideas – what should you do and what would you do – and most people tend to get confused with this. They might seem to hold the same meaning, but if you think about it a bit and dive a bit deeper, you will realize that they are completely different concepts.

I was recently presented with an article by the best-selling author Bruce Weinstein. He is the author of books such as Ethical Intelligence and The Good Ones. His article Should vs. Would was a question and answer discussion that first appeared via Knight-Ridder Tribune News Service and later via Kansascity.com.

The question posed to Weinstein was as follows: What is the difference between asking, “What would you do?” and “What should you do?”

To me, this is a very intriguing, yet simple discussion on ethics and morality. Let’s take a quick look at Weinstein’s answer.

Psychological vs Ethical

Weinstein informs us that the first part of the question, “What would you do?” is a psychological question. He informs us that psychology explains why we do what we do. The second part of the question, “What should you do?” is an ethical question. He explains that ethics help us to understand whether we have made the right decision.

Let’s take a look at how Weinstein uses this in an example. He comments, “If you are a parent, ask your child what he or she would do if they saw someone cheating on a test. If they’re like most students, they will say – I would keep it to myself.”

He then proposes a simple switch in the way you word the question. He advises that we should ask, “What should you do?” By doing this, he says that you will probably receive a different response from your child, such as: I should talk with the person and probably even tell the teacher. A completely different response by changing one simple word (would to should).

Weinstein explains that this example is one of many examples explaining the difference between how we “actually” behave and how we “ought” to behave.

Related: Morality Of Wisdom: There Is No Such Thing As Good Or Bad

One simple word changes everything

Weinstein advises us that the next time we ask a friend for help with a problem, we should pay specific attention to the language our friend responds with. For example, he says they will most likely respond with, “What I would do is this…” yet what you are really asking is something more in line with, “What is the right thing to do?”

If we reframe our question or ask them specifically, “What should you do?” or “What is the right thing to do?” you might find that there is more of a desire to tell the truth. He informs us that, by reframing the question your friend will have to appeal to ethical principles in justifying their response.

So, make sure to pay attention to how you word your question and how someone responds to a question. A simple change in one word dictates the type of question being asked and the type of response received.

Essentially, the question, “What would you do?” is an appeal to psychology; whereas, “What should you do?” is an appeal to ethics. Simple questions, yet both possess a profound impact.

I will leave you with the following quote,

“We ask a simple question And that is all we wish: Are fishermen all liars? Or do only liars fish?” – William Sherwood Fox


Written By Jamie Schwandt
Originally Appeared In Lifehack

The simple question of what you should do vs what you would do might seem a bit confusing at times, but it really isn’t. Ultimately, it all boils down to ethics and human psychology. They might be straightforward and simple questions, but they can have a deep impact on a person’s psyche, and give you a glimpse into who they are as a person.

What Should You Do vs What Would You Do pin
Should You Do Pin
Ads

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Up Next

8 Powerful Phrases To Shut Down Gaslighting With Confidence

Powerful Phrases To Shut Down Gaslighting With Confidence

Have you ever had a conversation with someone where you felt like everything you are saying or feeling is being dismissed and invalidated, even though you know you’re right? If you answered yes, then you were subjected to gaslighting. If you have experienced this, then remember these 8 phrases to shut down gaslighting like a boss.

When someone makes you question your reality, it can feel extremely frustrating and depressing. We’ve all been there at some point. These little digs can make you feel like you’re on thin ice, be it from a friend, family member or that one co-worker.

But hey, you’ve come to the



Up Next

How Deindividuation In Psychology Turns Individuals Into Mindless Followers

Terrifying Examples of Deindividuation in Psychology

Have you ever wondered why certain individuals often act differently when they are in a crowd or a group? Why does their behavior change suddenly? Why do they lose their  sense of individuality? This phenomenon is known as deindividuation in psychology.

This psychological phenomenon plays a crucial role in shaping human behavior in social contexts. So, let us explore what is deindividuation, examples of deindividuation, what causes deindividuation and how we can overcome it.

What is Deindividuation?

Deindividuation is a psychological concept that refers to the loss of self-awareness



Up Next

7 Toxic Beliefs Normalized By Society : Time to Challenge the Norms!

Toxic Beliefs Normalized By Society: Rethinking Norms

We have grown up in a society where lots of harmful beliefs have been considered normal for centuries. It’s 2024 now, and even though society has changed in ways, there are still many things that are wrong with it. Even today, there’re so many toxic beliefs normalized by society, and it can feel frustrating to say the least.

These harmful beliefs considered normal by society can greatly shape your thoughts, actions, and connections without you even realizing it. Let’s explore 7 of the most toxic beliefs normalized by society, and how normalization of toxic behavior can be extremely dangerous for us.



Up Next

Empath or Enabler? Truths About Toxic Empathy And 5 Ways To Break Free

How Toxic Empathy Is Ruining Your Life and What You Can Do

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be overly sensitive and emotionally drained by the problems of others? Can too much empathy be harmful? Is there such a thing as toxic empathy?

While empathy is considered a valuable trait that promotes understanding and compassion, there is a lesser-known phenomenon called toxic empathy that can have detrimental effects on both the empath and those around them. 

Today, let us explore what is toxic empathy disorder, what causes toxic empathy, can too much empathy be a bad thing, and learn strategies to deal with it.

What is Toxic Empathy?



Up Next

Do You Get Offended Easily? 5 Reasons Why And How To Deal With This

Do You Get Offended Easily? Reasons Why You Feel Like This

Are you easily offended and find yourself in a huff over the smallest things? You’re not alone. When you get offended easily, it can be a real struggle, turning minor hiccups into major headaches. But hey, there’s a silver lining—understanding the reasons why you get easily offended & learning how to dial down the drama can make all the difference.

Maybe you don’t get offended easily. If so, kudos!

Or maybe…

You already know you get offended easily (even if it’s just about one specific topic or issue), and it’s something you’re ready to address.

You suspect you’re more



Up Next

8 Under-the-Radar Signs You’re Being The Black Sheep Of The Family

Surprising Habits Of Being The Black Sheep Of The Family

Being the black sheep of the family can be as clear-cut as a polka dot amongst a sea of stripes. It feels like while everyone is a part of a synchronized orchestra, you are marching to your own beat.

It could be anything from your unconventional career choices or vibrant tattoo collection to simply being good at stirring the pot at family reunions, being the black sheep of the family is not all doom and gloom.

Instead, it should be something that you look upon with pride because it shows how unique you really are. All right, let’s explore some of the subtle signs you are being the black sheep of the family.<



Up Next

The Burnt Toast Theory: 5 Lessons To Learn From Unpredictability In Life

What Is The Burnt Toast Theory? Important Lessons To Learn

Did you burn your morning toast this morning? As frustrating as it is, what if I told you that it might have protected you from something worse?The Burnt Toast Theory of Life is a viral idea that has been floating around on TikTok and changes the way we look at life and has us accepting the curveballs of life!

What Is The Burnt Toast Theory of Life?

The “Burnt Toast Theory” is an allegory that is commonly used in self-help and motivational circles.

According to its creator Ingrid, when life hands us lemons (or burnt toast), it could be steering us away from things we don’t need