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Revista Argentina de Clínica Psicológica 2020, Vol. XXIX, N°2, 821-827

DOI: 10.24205/03276716.2020.316 821


























Weijun Bian


, Wenlong Zhao


, Tao Jiang



Civil obligations have an important impact on social development. This paper aims to identify the psychology and causes of the lack of civil obligations among college students. Students were selected from 6 universities in Hangzhou, China for a questionnaire survey on the current situation of the lack of civil obligations. The psychology of the respondents was analyzed in the light of their gender, grade, age, major and origin, and the causes of the lack of civil obligations were also identified based on the survey data. The results show that college students differ in the cognition and implementation of civil obligations; despite the lack of cognition of social responsibility, most college students recognize the importance of education on civil obligations; the sense of responsibility of college students is inconsistent with their responsible behavior; their lack of civil obligations has certain connections with college education model and family environment, calling

for concerted efforts from college and family to enhance the students’ civic awareness. This study provides new ideas for enhancing civil obligations and social responsibility.

Key words: Civil Obligations, Psychology, Social Responsibility, Civic Awareness.

Received: 19-02-19 | Accepted: 18-07-19


As one of the most important things in the all-round development of human beings, the sense of social responsibility refers to a kind of moral emotion arising from the interaction between people, society, nation and state (Bryan & Hershfield, 2012; Lassch & Yang, 2011). The sense of responsibility is the subjective feeling of a person after taking responsibility for a thing, and the sense of social responsibility is the reflection of the responsibilities and obligations that an individual must take, including taking the initiative to do useful things for himself, others, the collective, the society, the state and nature (Yoon, Gürhan-Canli, & Schwarz, 2006; Rupp, Skarlicki, & Shao, 2013; Sheldon & Park, 2011). Human behavior is always dominated by its

1School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Xi'an Jiaotong

University, Xi'an 710075, China. 2Shaanxi Huazhang

Education Consulting Co., Ltd, Xi'an 710075, China. E-Mail:

psychology, and different psychologies will have different behaviors (Dennis, Neck, & Goldsby, 1998; Pickren & Tomes, 2002). From a psychological perspective, particularly mainly based on the individual's cognition, emotions and attitudes, social responsibility, it is manifested in the way people understand and behave in society, so it fully reflects the relationship between people and society.

Obligation is an ideal and desirable behavior model in people's conception, which is regarded as the behavior that the behavior subject should or must do (Newman & Brucks, 2018; Morgan & Palk, 2013). With the development of society and the improvement of the citizen system, civil obligations are placed in the fields of law, politics and morals, restraining citizens in different corresponding ways, thus they gradually become external behaviors of citizens to fulfill their obligations (Van Buren, 2000; Leu & Chang, 2011; Huebner, 2014). Civil obligations have a non-negligible impact on the social development at present or in the future (Amer,




El-Sayeh, Fayad et al., 2015; Moratis, 2016; Bowen, Jensen, Martin et al., 2016). At present, researchers have done a lot of studies on the cultivation of civic awareness and the protection of citizen rights, but they have ignored the impact of civil obligations on promoting social progress and improving social systems. The lack of awareness and responsibility of civil obligations hinders the advancement of civil society. Therefore, the analysis on the lack of civic awareness and the research on the causes are urgently needed.

In view of the above problems and research status and taking college students in Hangzhou as the research object, this study statistically analyzes the current situation of the lack of civil obligations among college students using questionnaires, and systematically explores the psychology and causes of their lack of civil obligations based on relevant psychological theories. This study provides a theoretical basis for enhancing citizens' civil obligations and sense of social responsibility.


Personal sense of social responsibility

Individuals and society are the premise of each other, and are interdependent of each other. Human attributes mainly include natural attributes and social attributes. The former refers to a kind of instinct of human beings, which are inherent to them, while the latter refer to the special signs that distinguish humans from other species. People in the world are interconnected. Such intricate networks of connections interweave, thus becoming today’s society. People and society are in a relationship of mutual influence and promotion. The life of an individual from birth to death is also a historical process of social development. The environment changes along with various social activities of human beings, and it in turn affects the environment in which we live, thus affecting our social activities. Therefore, individual development cannot be separated from society, and social progress from human development.

Personal sense of social responsibility mainly belongs to the category of moral emotions, which is mainly formed through the constraints of self-values and social morals. The development of society guides the personal sense of responsibility. The sense of social

responsibility of college students refers to their emotional experience when fulfilling their obligations towards society, the collective, and other people during their college period, including the dedication and responsibility of college students to others, the collective, or the society. The sense of social responsibility of college students also refers to their self-growth and development in their growing process, meaning that they have shouldered their due responsibilities in their growing process, and shown some behaviors that are consistent with their own development. Sense of social responsibility plays a pivotal role in daily life. The increasing participation of college students in social activities has made them the main driving force for social development, and they can stand on their own. Moreover, their consciousness of social responsibility, though presenting their own characteristics, is restricted in many aspects. As a member of society, if college students, while striving to do their job well, can maintain a good attitude, have clear goals and plans, and be responsible for themselves, then it can be considered that they are responsible to our society.

Civil obligations

The obligation of citizens is first of all to be responsible for themselves. Each person can live but once. So, he must put himself in the first place. Only by taking responsibility for themselves and establishing an ideal belief can individuals fulfill their obligations and assume their responsibilities to the collective, the society and the state. Young college students are already mature in all aspects, thus they should be responsible for themselves and concerned about their own physical and mental health. Meanwhile, they should constantly enrich their knowledge, broaden their spiritual realm and improve their own self-cultivation, thus to make contributions to the society while achieving self-worth. Therefore, being responsible for themselves and fulfilling their obligations to move forward means being responsible to society and the fulfillment of their social obligations.

The fulfillment of the obligations to the family means the care for, and inclusiveness and understanding of the family members. College students still cannot do without their family's supply, and they must feel the affection and love from the family before being able to survive



independently in society, so that they can raise responsibility consciousness from sensibility to reason, and can care for others and society. The family is a warm harbor for an individual, whose growth cannot be separated from the family. In turn, the harmony of a family also requires everyone to take care of each other and fulfill their due responsibilities. In the future, college students will need to form their own family, to shoulder their own obligations to their native family, to love their other half and to support their children, which has been interpreted in the Chinese traditional culture incisively and vividly. If a person is irresponsible to the family, it will be difficult for him to succeed in other aspects, let alone to make certain contributions to the society.

College students should fulfill responsibilities and obligations to society and the country. With a wealth of scientific and cultural knowledge, college students are the backbone of the country's emerging development and at the same time, they play an important role in the social development and prosperity of a country. It is a must for college students to combine their own development with the common ideal of socialism and the rejuvenation of their country, correctly understand the relationship between the personal ideal and the social ideal, and pursue their own personal ideal on the premise of striving to realize the social and national ideals. Only when college students have clarified the meaning of personal sense of social responsibility can their sense of responsibility be strengthened with help, their personality improved, and their own behavior regulated, and can they contribute more to the development of their motherland.




Investigation on the status of sense of social responsibility of college students

The improvement of civic awareness and sense of social responsibility of college students should not only depend on the moral education courses, but also needs to be put into practice. This study investigates the current situation of the lack of civil obligations among college students in Hangzhou, and analyzes the problems and their causes. The purpose of the survey is to understand the situation of the

cultivation of college students' civil obligations and to provide a basis for strengthening the education of college students' civil obligations. In addition, this study also puts forward specific suggestions and countermeasures through analysis of the influencing factors. This survey selected students from 6 universities in Hangzhou for questionnaire survey. A total of 400 questionnaires were randomly distributed to students of different schools, majors, grades and genders, of which 389 questionnaires were collected, and a total of 380 valid questionnaires were screened, with an efficiency of 95%. The results of the collected were sorted out and analyzed to obtain the final results. The statistical results of the basic information of the investigated college students are shown in Table 1 and Figure 1.

Table 1.

Basic information of respondents

Project Number Proportion

Gender Male 176 46.32%

Female 204 53.68%


Freshman 98 25.79%

Sophomore 103 27.11%

Junior 91 23.95%

Senior 88 23.16%


18-20 135 35.53%

21-22 184 48.42%

23-24 61 16.05%


Science 164 43.16%

Liberal arts 174 45.79%

Other 42 11.05%

Student source Town 236 62.11%

Countryside 144 37.89%

Figure 1


Distribution of gender and grade of


The results of the survey on the college students’ understanding of civil obligations are shown in Figure 2. According to the figure, 43.3%




of students believe that the obligation of citizens means contributions to society, 31.8% believe that it is to adhere to the moral bottom line, and that citizens should fulfill related obligations, 21.2 % hold that it is unpaid personal behavior, and only 3.4% do not have a clear idea about it. It shows that college students have different views on the obligation of citizens, and they are generally familiar with it and only a few students are unclear about it.

Figure 2


College Students' understanding of


Figure 3


College Students' understanding of

social responsibility

The survey results of university students' understanding of sense of social responsibility are shown in Figure 3. According to the figure, only 13.2% of students understand its specific content, and the students who know a little or nothing about it account for 64.8%. It shows that there is a great lack of moral education among college students, and that students only know

the concept of sense of social responsibility, but they have no idea about its specific content. People have seen a lot more about it in daily life, but few people can really understand it. The survey results show that college students' cognition and understanding of sense of social responsibility is lacking.

The results of the survey on the need to pay attention to civil obligations education are shown in Figure 4. According to the figure, up to 45.8% of students believe it requires everybody’s attention, 17.3% believe that doing one’s own part well is enough, 25.7% think that they need to call attention from all walks of life, but the proportion of students holding an indifferent attitude still reaches 11.2%. Taken together, most students still think that compulsory education for citizens needs to be valued, and that they must do their best to contribute more to society.

Figure 4


Should we pay attention to the

compulsory education of citizens

Analysis of the causes of college students' lack of obligation based on psychology

College students' sense of responsibility is contrary to civil obligations. According to Figure 5, 42.1% of college students will choose to do what they can to help others, 23.4% will consider the pros and cons before helping others, while 15.8% think it is not worthwhile to help others. This is inconsistent with the previous survey results, that is, college students are not unfamiliar with social responsibility and performance of obligations. College students have a sense of responsibility, but do not have corresponding responsible behavior. They generally think that it is an excellent quality to



act bravely for a just cause, but when things really happen, they will be overcautious and act according to their ability, fully indicating that the sense of responsibility of college students is not consistent with their responsible behavior.

Figure 5


The choice of doing justice and


Figure 6


Students' attitude towards "Two


Part of the reason for the lack of obligation among college students is that there are some disadvantages in the educational methods of colleges. According to the survey result on "whether it is necessary for colleges to offer two courses education" (see Figure 6), 27.3% of students think it is very necessary, 52.6% of students think it is necessary to offer two courses to a certain degree, and 20.1% of students think it is unnecessary or they feel indifferent. According to the results, it is very necessary to set up two courses in colleges, but the traditional teaching effect is very

undesirable. It is often the case that students get tired of class or skip class. They are not interested in the course, and listen to class negligently. Therefore, how to improve the education on students' sense of responsibility calls for the attention of colleges.

As for national and personal interests, 45.2% of students believe that national interests are paramount, 26.4% believe that the two are of equal importance, 21.1% believe that personal interests should be pursued to a certain degree, and only 7.3% believe that the pursuit of personal interests should be the top priority. Social development nowadays has also brought some disadvantages and unfavorable tendencies. Many a student chooses personal interests, and the proportion of students holding that the two are of equal importance has reached one quarter. In the process of forming their own personal values, college students with weak judgment ability are more prone to accept wrong concepts and to be self-centered. Under the guidance of wrong values, college students are prone to only care about themselves and enjoy their rights without fulfilling their obligations, leading to their lack of the sense of social responsibility.

Figure 7


How to view the relationship

between individual and national interests

Family is the cradle of cultivating the civic responsibility and obligation of college students. The investigation results on the influencing factors in terms of family are shown in Figure 8.




Figure 8


Which factor has the greatest

influence on the cultivation of responsibility

and obligation

It can be seen from the figure that parental example is the most important factor in cultivating college students' responsibilities and obligations, accounting for 41.1%. In addition, we can see that the family education concept also has a great impact on students, accounting for 33.2%. However, affected by the exam-oriented education in China, many families use scores and rankings as a lever to measure students. Such education model also leads to the fact that students only pay attention to the improvement of knowledge but neglect that of moral character, resulting in "high IQ and low EQ".


Based on psychology-related theories and taking college students in Hangzhou as the research object, this study investigates and analyzes contemporary college students' cognition, implementation, as well as lack of civil obligations, systematically explores the psychology and causes of their lack of social civil obligations, and proposes measures to improve civic awareness from the perspectives of society, school education and family, leading to the following conclusions:

(1) College students differ in their cognitions of the civil obligation, with 43.3% believing it to be contributions to society, 31.8% the duties that they should fulfill, and 21.2% unpaid personal behavior, and 3.4% lacking cognition of civil obligations.

(2) College students lack cognitions and understanding of sense of social responsibility, and lack understanding of how to implement sense of social responsibility and fulfill civil obligations. However, the survey results show that most students believe that the education of civil obligations should be stressed, and the awareness and related cognition of civil obligations of social members should be improved.

(3) At present, there is an inconsistency

between college students’ sense of

responsibility and their responsible behavior, and their lack of civil obligations is affected by the college education model and their family environment. Therefore, both colleges and families should improve the education on the civil obligations of college students and their civic awareness.


National Social Science Fund Key Projects: Expanding Interest Convergence Points and Cohesion of Social Consensus Research - Construction of Social Trust in the New Era (Project Number: 14ASH001).


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