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What mentality does 'Chinese-style street crossing' reflect?

(People's Daily Online)

13:27, October 18, 2012

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"We Chinese do not care about traffic lights. We run red lights in groups. This is the Chinese-style street crossing," a micro-blogger recently ridiculed Chinese pedestrians' bad habit of running red lights.

It is indeed common to see pedestrians running red lights in China.

How was the collective unconscious developed? It has something to with people's decision-making preferences.

People make decisions based on two theories. One theory is consequentialism, which holds that the consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness of that conduct. The other is "principlism," which holds that one acts in line with his or her ethic principles or social code of conduct regardless of the outcome of the activity.

Sometimes, people use both theories at the same time. What is worrying is vulgar consequentialism, a view that one should ignore all principles and always do things having the best consequences. A vulgar consequentialist tends to be short-sighted and unprincipled, and only sees petty benefits.

The decision-making preferences are clearly demonstrated in the details of people's daily lives. When throwing killer litter, trampling flowers and plants, or running a red light, people know that it is not right to do that, but they still choose to "freeze" principles and only care about the consequences. Even if they are caught doing that, the consequences are not serious at all.

Some people have suggested increasing the penalty on pedestrians for running a red light, but how severe can the penalty be for running a red light? Furthermore, for penalties there must be law enforcement officers, and the country just cannot afford to manage every corner of society.

The best way to kick the above bad habits is to establish correct values and enhance regulation awareness.

Read the Chinese version: “中国式过马路”折射什么心态

Source:People's Daily, author: Li Zhiyong.

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