Responsibility in TCI
The purpose of the paper is to investigate in what sense TCI (a psychological instrument for testing personality) meaures responsibility in a person. The description of individuals with high self-directedness (a dimension of character) is that they are mature, strong, selfsufficient, responsible, reliable, goal-oriented, constructive, and well-integrated. They have good self-esteem and self-reliance; thus, they are able to adapt their behavior in accord with individually chosen, voluntary goals. Individuals who are low in Self-Directedness, in contrast, are described as immature, weak, fragile, blaming, destructive, ineffective, irresponsible, and unreliable (Cloninger et al., 1993; Cloninger, Przybeck, Svrakic & Wetzel,
1994). We will first describe the test, and then move over to give a clearer view of what responsibility might mean. Finally, we will examine the parts of the test relevant to assessments of the traits that are supposed to measure the traits mentioned above and attempt to evaluate whether they measure responsibility in a sense and especially in what sense.
Cloninger’s theory of personality provide a psychobiological model which proposes that humans are an integrated hierarchy of biological, psychological, and social systems that adapt to changes (Cloninger, Svrakic & Przybeck, 1993). The psychobiological model consists of four temperament (Novelty Seeking, Harm Avoidance, Reward Dependence, and
Persistence) and three character dimensions (Self-Directedness, Cooperativeness, and Self-
Transcendence). Temperament involves involuntary emotional processes, whereas character involves voluntary rational processes (Cloninger, 2004, 2008). For instance, the distinction of temperament and character serves as a tool for disentangling personality problems in individuals with neuropsychiatric disorders (Svrakic, Whitehead, Przybeck & Cloninger,
1993. See also Anckarsäter, Ståhlberg, Larson, Håkansson, Jutblad et al., 2006; Söderström,
Råstam & Gillberg, 2002). The
of a personality disorder is indicated by character
Responsibility in TCI
Draft immaturity (especially by low Self-Directedness and/or low Cooperativeness), and the
of disorder by the temperament configuration.
Longitudinal studies have shown that character is more influenced by sociocultural influences than temperament despite the similar degree of heritability of temperament and character traits. The average level of temperament traits remains nearly the same between the ages of 20 and 45 as a result of nearly equal number of people increasing and decreasing with advancing age (Josefsson et al, in press). In contrast, character traits change substantially in level in the direction favored by social norms: as people age, they become more self-directed, more cooperative, and less self-transcendent in secular societies in which responsibility for work and families are paramount. These developmental findings indicate that character, especially SD and CO, is more responsive to sociocultural learning than temperament, much as originally proposed by Cloninger (1993). More recently, one large population-based-twin study among Swedish adolescents supported the theoretical notion that SD and CO describes developing regulatory cognitive-emotional strategies with a more complex etiology, including significant common environmental effects (Garcia, Stråge, Lundström, Radovic,..)
The Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI; Cloninger et al., 1994) is used in order to measure both domains of personality (i.e., temperament and character). The two dimensions of character in focus here are: Self-Directedness (SD), which indicates how responsible, purposeful, and resourceful an individual is in working to achieve her goals and values (i.e., an individual’s executive functions) and Cooperativeness (CO), which indicates how well adapted the individual is in getting along with others fairly and flexibly with kindness (i.e., an individual’s legislative functions).
Highly self-directed individuals are described as mature, strong, self-sufficient, responsible, reliable, goal-oriented, constructive, and well-integrated. They have good selfesteem and self-reliance; thus, they are able to adapt their behavior in accord with individually chosen, voluntary goals. Individuals who are low in Self-Directedness, in contrast, are described as immature, weak, fragile, blaming, destructive, ineffective, irresponsible, and unreliable (Cloninger et al., 1993; Cloninger, Przybeck, Svrakic & Wetzel,
Highly cooperative people are described as empathetic, tolerant, compassionate, supportive, fair, and principled individuals who enjoy being of service to others and often try
Responsibility in TCI
Draft to cooperate with others. They understand and respect the preferences and needs of others as well as their own. In contrast, low scorers on the Cooperativeness dimension are described as self-absorbed, intolerant, critical, unhelpful, revengeful, and opportunistic. They tend to be thoughtless of other’s rights or feelings (Cloninger et al., 1993; Cloninger et al., 1994).
The character dimensions, as well as the temperament dimensions, are high order dimensions composed of lower order facets.
Responsibility vs. Blaming (SD1).
Individuals who are high on this sub-scale feel often free to choose what they want and would like to do. They recognize that their attitudes, behaviors, and problems generally reflect their own choices, thus, they accept responsibility for their attitudes and behavior. Others describe them as reliable and trustworthy persons.
Individuals who score low tend to blame other people and external circumstances for what is happening to them. They feel that their attitudes, behavior, and choices are determined by influences outside their control or against their will, thus, they do not to accept responsibility for their actions (Cloninger et al., 1993; Cloninger et al., 1994).
Purposefulness vs. Lack of Goal Direction (SD2).
Individuals who score high on this subscale have a clear sense of meaning and direction in their lives. Typically, they have developed the ability to delay gratification to achieve long-term goals and values, that is, selfcontrol. In contrast, low scorers struggle to find direction, purpose, and meaning in their lives.
They are uncertain about long-term goals, feel that their life is empty and has little or no meaning, thus feel driven to react to current circumstances and immediate needs (Cloninger et al., 1993; Cloninger et al., 1994).
Resourcefulness vs. Inertia (SD3).
High scorers are usually described by others as productive, proactive, competent, and innovative individuals who often have ideas on how to solve problems. These individuals tend to look at a difficult situation as a challenge or an opportunity. In contrast, low scorers are described by other as helpless, hopeless, and ineffective. These individuals have not developed skills and confidence in solving problems and thus feel unable and incompetent when faced with obstacles, therefore, they tend to wait for others to take the lead (Cloninger et al., 1993; Cloninger et al., 1994).
Self-Acceptance vs. Self-Striving (SD4).
High scorers are described as self-confident individuals who recognize and accept both their strengths and limitations, although they may try to improve these limitations by constructive training and effort. In contrast, low scorers have low self-esteem, thus, they neither enjoy nor accept their actual mental and physical
Responsibility in TCI
Draft capacities. They often pretend to be different than they really are and fantasize about unlimited wealth, importance, beauty, and eternal youth (Cloninger et al., 1993; Cloninger et al., 1994).
Congruent Second Nature vs. Bad Habits (SD5).
Individuals who score high have, as a consequence of self-discipline, developed a spectrum of goal-congruent, good habits so that they automatically act in accord with their long-term values and goals. These individuals rarely confuse their priorities; thus, feeling secure and self-trusting in tempting situations. In contrast, low scorers manifest habits that are inconsistent with and make it hard for them to accomplish meaningful goals. These individuals might be perceived by others as selfdefeating and weak-willed (Cloninger et al., 1993; Cloninger et al., 1994).
Social Acceptance vs. Social Intolerance (C1).
Individuals who score high on this subscale tend to accept other people as they are, even people with very different behaviors, ethics, opinions, values, or appearances. In contrast, low scorers are typically impatient with and critical of other people, especially with people who have different goals and values
(Cloninger et al., 1993; Cloninger et al., 1994).
Empathy vs. Social Disinterest (C2).
High scorers often try to put themselves in the place of others. They tend to treat others with dignity and respect and often put aside their own judgments, giving place for better understanding of other people’s subjective experience. In contrast, low scorers are insensitive, not able to share other’s emotions, suffering, or hardship (Cloninger et al., 1993; Cloninger et al., 1994).
Helpfulness vs. Unhelpfulness (C3).
High scorers on this subscale are described as helpful, supportive, and encouraging, or reassuring. They often share their knowledge with others and usually prefer and like to work as part of a team. In contrast, low scorers are described as self-centered, egoistic, or selfish. They tend to be inconsiderate of other people and typically look out only for themselves (Cloninger et al., 1993; Cloninger et al., 1994).
Compassion vs. Revengefulness (C4).
Individuals who score high on this subscale are described as compassionate, forgiving, charitable, and benevolent. Low scorers enjoy getting revenge, overt or disguised, on people who hurt them (Cloninger et al., 1993; Cloninger et al.,
Integrated Conscience vs. Self-Serving Advantage (C5).
Individuals who score high on this subscale are described as honest, genuinely conscientious, and sincere persons who treat others in a consistently fair manner. In contrast, low scorers would do whatever they can get
Responsibility in TCI
Draft away with to reach their goals without getting in immediate trouble, thus, they are often described as opportunistic, manipulative, and deceitful. They tend to treat others unfairly, in a biased, self-serving manner that usually reflects their own profit (Cloninger et al., 1993;
Cloninger et al., 1994).
The temperament and character inventory measures different characteristics in individuals by evaluating their responses to questions about how they perceive their own role in what is happening to them, how good they are in accomplish long-term goals, how much they worry about things in life, and much more. The questions are formulated as statements, to which one can agree in more or less degrees. If someone has high degrees in for example
Harm Avoidance, he/she is attributed with traits like worrying, pessimistic, fearful, shy and fatigable. Low scores indicate traits like relaxed, optimistic, bold, confident, outgoing and vigorous. High scores in Novelty Seeking indicate a personality that is exploratory, curios, impulsive, extravagant, enthusiastic and disorderly. Low scores add up to traits as indifferent, reflective, frugal, detached, orderly and regimented.
TCI results have been shown to have a high correlation with objective judgements of the individuals in question. For example, individuals with high scores on novelty seeking but low scores on self-directedness and persistence is highly possible to less able to show a responsible behavior than individuals with lower scores on novelty seeking but higher on selfdirectedness and persistence. The individual traits in a person simply frame the motivational structures that are crucial for responsible behavior.
The description of individuals with high SD is that they are mature, strong, selfsufficient, responsible, reliable, goal-oriented, constructive, and well-integrated. They have good self-esteem and self-reliance; thus, they are able to adapt their behavior in accord with individually chosen, voluntary goals. Individuals who are low in Self-Directedness, in contrast, are described as immature, weak, fragile, blaming, destructive, ineffective, irresponsible, and unreliable (Cloninger et al., 1993; Cloninger, Przybeck, Svrakic & Wetzel,
1994). Individuals with high scores in cooperativeness are described as empathetic, tolerant,
Responsibility in TCI
Draft compassionate, supportive, fair, and principled individuals who enjoy being of service to others and often try to cooperate with others. They understand and respect the preferences and needs of others as well as their own. In contrast, low scorers on the Cooperativeness dimension are described as self-absorbed, intolerant, critical, unhelpful, revengeful, and opportunistic. They tend to be thoughtless of other’s rights or feelings (Cloninger et al., 1993;
Cloninger et al., 1994).
Seemingly, self-directedness and cooperativeness measure properties that we usually believe have a strong connection to the ability to behave in a responsible way. But is it possible to infer the existence of such a complicated and context-dependent capacity in an individual by measuring her denials/ agreements of statements about the role she plays in the makings of her own decisions, actions and attitudes?
The answer must reasonably depend on what we take responsibility to be.
TCI measures responsibility or the ability to be a responsible person, it is a valued instrument in to evaluate psychiatric treatment or risk assessments when deciding if a patient with a criminal and/or violent past should be released from custodial care. In order to answer that question, we must first get a clearer view of what responsibility and being a responsible person entail. In the following part we will give a review of how the concept of responsibility can be interpreted by using an analysis of Nicole Vincent, but also a theory proposed by
Gunnar Björnsson and Karl Persson about why and when we attribute responsibility to people.
2.2 A comment on the difference between criminal and moral responsibility
The two perhaps most prevailing domains where the concept of responsibility occur is the moral and criminal domain. The relationship between moral and criminal responsibility is sometimes seen as closely entangled. There are strong influences of morality in what is viewed as criminal actions, but there are several morally blameworthy actions that are not judged as criminal. For example, one can behave very immorally to a friend, e.g always taking advantage of her disability to deny you a good meal or a drink, and at the same time blackmail her to other people. Hardly criminal, but clearly immoral behavior.
Responsibility in TCI
A person can also be held criminal responsible, even if she is not morally responsible for an action. The head of a company can be held criminally responsible for e.g an environmental catastrophe even if she personally did not do anything wrong.
In the case of psychopaths, some scholars argue that they suffer from a neurological disease making it impossible for them to recognize and/or be motivated by moral reasons, and that this must implicate that they are not capable of criminal responsibility either. But this is not an obvious syllogism. Ken Levy argues in a his extensive paper
Criminally Responsible but NOT Morally Responsible, Subject to Punishment AND to
(2011) that the affective and emotive ability needed to recognize moral rules is a different capacity from the cognitive ability to recognize criminal law and the consequences if one breaks the law. And it is the ability to recognize rules and laws that determine if you can be held responsible; not your motivation (or lack of motivation) to adapt to them.
Björnsson’s and Persson’s article is explicitly targets moral responsibility, but is in many cases applicable to criminal responsibility as well. Vincent’s six different kinds of responsibility is sometimes most comprehensible as moral responsibility, others are more like criminal responsibility. What kind of responsibility is TCI testing? We would like to say that it does not test responsibility at all- it is rather a tool for measuring a person’s basic conditions for making responsible decisions and actions, and this in both the moral and criminal domain.
2.3 Subtypes of “responsibility”
In her article
On the Relevance of Neuroscience to Criminal Responsibility
Vincent argues for a more fine-grained usage of the concept of responsibility. Her main argument is that responsibility is not a homogenous concept and hence cannot be understood if not articulated more narrowly. Vincent’s main interest in this article is criminal responsibility, which may differ from moral responsibility in some aspects. But they do also have significant similarities and for the purposes of this text, the arguments that I will put forward are equally applicable to moral and criminal responsibility.
Vincent divides responsibility into six subtypes; a categorization based on Hart’s terminology of responsibility and illustrated in his famous parable about Smith the captain:
Responsibility in TCI
“As a captain of a ship, X was responsible for his passengers and crew. But on his last voyage he got drunk every night and was responsible for the loss of ship with all aboard.
It was rumored that he was insane, but the doctors considered that he was responsible for his actions. Throughout the voyage he behaved quite irresponsibly, and various incidents in his career showed that he was not a responsible person. He always maintained that the exceptional winter storms were responsible for the loss of ship, but in the legal proceedings brought against him, he was found criminally responsible for his negligent conduct, and in separate civil proceedings he was held legally responsible for the loss of life and property. He is still alive and he is morally responsible for the deaths of many women and children” (Hart 1968: 211).
From this short text, it is obvious that “responsibility” and “responsible” is used in a number of ways, which Vincent defines as:
The first one,
, is what is mentioned in the first sentence of the
Smith story. It is a claim about a person’s main character; in Smith’s case that he normally was a dependable person, who took his duties seriously, and so on. The second kind,
, says that a person has certain duties in relation to other people and state of affairs; in Smith’s case, his profession as the captain of the ship implicated certain duties in relation to this role.
tells us something about what is rightly attributed to a person as an effect of his/her actions. Smith was attributed the outcome responsibility of the loss of the ship and many of its passengers and crew.
is in Smith’s case use to shift the responsibility issue from Smith himself to the combination of depression and alcohol.
is informing us about an agent’s physical and mental status. E.g if severe depressed, the capacity responsibility may be viewed as impaired.
is used when the question about the consequences is raised; how is responsibility
in view of what has happened.
Responsibility in TCI
Now we have a sketch of how “responsibility” can be interpreted. As we can see, there is a combination of normative and descriptive kinds of “responsibility” in Vincent’s categorization. E.g when talking about
we are saying something about what a person use to be like. This is a descriptive use of
. When talking about
we are saying something about what we expect of a person with no actual reference to how he/she actually behaves. This is a normative usage of
. Both kinds seem to be related to if and when it is justified to blame or praise people. Below we will discuss a proposal of an explanation of the mechanisms behind those judgements.
2.4 “The Explanatory Hypothesis”
In Björnsson & Persson:
“ The Explanatory Component of Moral Responsibility”
(2011) the target is not how we should make judgements about responsibility / responsible actions but rather what kind of cognitive processes that underlies different kinds of judgements; it is a psychological hypothesis according to which judgements about moral responsibility is explanatory judgements. This means that the responsibility attribution to a person in relation to of an event / state of affairs is a significant part of the explanation of the event.
When looking for a causal explanation of some event, we are not looking for
event that can be said to have a causal contribution to the occurrence of the event. Neither are we looking for a detailed or complete description of why the event has come about. Rather, we are looking for an explanation that is significant or relevant in relation to what we are trying to explain. This interest-relativity in ordinary explanatory judgements is well known, but is, according to Björnsson& Persson, extraordinary powerful when it comes to the explanation of responsibility judgements. They illustrate this statement by giving some examples on common considerations that are normally taken to lower moral responsibility.
For example, the Explanation Hypothesis explains why external force, threat or constraints are usually taken as factors that limit the agent’s responsibility level. The key in those cases is, according to Björnsson& Persson, that the agent’s
fail to explain why the event came about. EH also nicely predicts that we normally do not hold people responsible for actions not under their control; e.g the driver that suddenly faint when on the highway and crashes into another car; the motivational structures are not in any way a significant explanation of the crash. But EH can also explain why we in certain circumstances
Responsibility in TCI
Draft hold people responsible for event that at the time of action wasn’t under their control; in a situation where a drunk driver crashes into another car we do hold her responsible for this event even if the direct causal explanation would be something about her slow reflexes.
Anyhow, the more distance situation when the driver decided to drive when drunk is an explanation where the motivational structures actually is a significant explanation of the event and therefore justifies us to hold the driver responsible for the crash.
EH does also explain why we tend to hold people more responsible when they are actively and intentionally involved in producing some outcome or event, compared with bystanders who do not actively engage themselves in the act. The most interesting factor in e.g a robbery is that someone intentionally robbed his/her victim – a secondary explanation would be that no one intervened to stop it. If it is a
of motivation to intervene in the robbery, e.g if the bystander is a police officer, this fact would be of a more significant kind and therefore the police officer’s non acting would be a part of the explanation to why the victim was successfully robbed.
In this part we will analyze the statements in TCI that is concerned with responsibility in the light of the theories discussed above. We’ve now got a picture of what responsibility could be and why we attribute it to people. If we suppose that the questionnaire measures if an individual is a responsible or blaming personality in a reliable and justified way, what kind of responsibility is it that it measures, given Vincent’s categorization? And if it measures one or several kinds of responsibility - does it have any consequences for responsibility
as it is explained in the explanatory hypothesis?
As we saw in part 1.3, there are six subscales concerning self-directedness, and one of them (SD1) is “Responsibility vs. Blaming”. There are eight statements in this category:
“I often feel that I am the victim of circumstances.”
Responsibility in TCI
“I seldom feel free to choose what I want to do.”
“My attitudes are determined largely by influences outside my control”
“Other people control me too much.”
“Circumstances often force me to do things against my will.”
“I usually am free to choose what I will do.”
“My actions are determined largely by influences outside my control.”
“Other people and conditions are often to blame for my problems.”
was a claim about a person’s main character; that he normally is a dependable person who takes his duties seriously and so on. This kind of responsibility seem to fit rather well with what TCI does; to describe a general personality on an abstract level.
is a description of a person’s duties by virtue of his profession or role in relation to other people. Role responsibility is primarily an objective, normative judgement or agreement ( e.g when accepting the position as employee I agree to have certain responsibilities which I would not have had without the position) and this is probably not what TCI is about, being a measurement of personality traits.
tells us something about what is rightly attributed to a person as a consequence of his actions. This is more interesting in relation to TCI, because the statements constructed to measure self directedness/ responsibility versus blaming, are for example formulated as “I often feel that I am the victim of circumstances”, or “other people and conditions are often to blame for my problems”. If one agrees on this point this indicates a blaming personality, which may lead to denial of outcome responsibility in cases when the individual is judged by others to be responsible for an event / the consequences of an event. Thus, outcome responsibility is probably an implicit concept in TCI.
deals with the explanatory component of an event, for example, if someone has done something wrong under the influence of drugs or mental illness. This is related to the previous kind of responsibility in the way that if an agent does not recognizes himself as the “real” cause of an action, attitude or thought – the causal kind of responsibility – he will probably not take outcome responsibility either.
is not explicitly taken into account in the questionnaire; but it is, similarly to
a capacity that the TCI among other things probably tries to pin down. The capacity could be impaired in different ways, but one
Responsibility in TCI
Draft kind of impairment could be the failure to see the connection between one’s behavior and what is happening in life.
is more of an objective judgement of who should take care of the aftermaths of an event, and therefore not something TCI could reasonably try to measure.
If an individual scores low in the SD part of the TCI, he is viewed to be a “blaming personality”. The statements seem in this analysis to be concerned with four of the six kinds of responsibility that is proposed by Vincent; virtue, outcome, causal and capacity responsibility. The statements are most obviously concerned with the individual’s subjective view on his own agency in relation to other circumstances; the causal and outcome kind of responsibility. But it is likely that the conclusions drawn out of the answers is about more general personality traits like virtue and capacity responsibility.
There are two obvious problems with this approach. To draw general conclusions about how responsible or blaming a person is from a few abstract statements about the experience of agency and control is not obviously justified. Firstly, we do not know the reasons of why the person answers like he does – is he honest, how well does he reflect upon his own attitudes, actions and thoughts, how well does he understand the generality of the statements, does he care about the conclusions of the inventory, and so on. Secondly, if it is the case that he answers honestly, we cannot know what his self-perception is like. It is not unlikely that an individual scores high in every subscale, but that this is not an indicator of the personality traits as attributed to high-scorers in TCI but rather of a self-deceiving personality.
To be able to judge this, the self-report must be compared with objective views of the individual’s behavior.
If we, despite those objections, believe that TCI does measure some kind of responsible or blaming personality, we concluded that it is most probably interested in the virtue and capacity kinds of responsibility.
There is an important difference between virtue and capacity responsibility. Whereas virtue responsibility only is a description of how an individual tend to behave, capacity responsibility is an explanation of behavior. Virtue responsibility seems to correspond more with intentional structures than capacity responsibility does – at least with intentional
Responsibility in TCI
Draft structures of the sort the Explanatory Hypothesis focuses on. According to Björnsson &
Persson, the key in most cases concerning judgements about individual responsibility is the agent’s
If the person does have the motivational structures to do “the right thing” but external forces obstruct his possibilities to perform the action, we usually do not blame him as we would if he simply lacks the motivational structures to do the right thing.
But if the right motivational structures are missing without explanation, it seems, according to
EH, that such a person is held moral responsible for his actions.
The answer to the statements in SD1 cannot by themselves show that a person has a reduced capacity for responsible behavior. But is it reasonable to say that it at least show that the individual seem to be a not very responsible one, that is, that the test at least measure virtue responsibility? It is not obviously so. When evaluating the statements, we do not have to mark
“true” or “false” about concrete examples but rather abstract ones. If answering “true” on the statement “I often feel that I am the victim of circumstances”, this does not tell us that much about what the individual actually does in specific cases. It is very possible that he is a very responsible person who tries to do his best, even if he feels to be a victim of circumstances. If answering “true” on the statement “I seldom feel free to choose what I want to do”, we do not know how the individual interpret the concept of freedom. Free to what? Or free from what?
Very few of us believe that we are free in the very absolute sense of “free” – we have to adapt to the rules and laws of society, to expectations from family and friends, etc. It is also a matter of prioritization between different wants and needs. To be able to answer at all, one has to understand that the test probably is interested in a
, and even if I should not define my choices in life as “free” in first hand – I find several other explanations to be more informative and apt – I understand what the test is after and answer the statements under the influence of this understanding.
Responsibility in TCI