Lacking a sense of responsibility

Irresponsible Definition & Meaning |

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[ ir-i-spon-suh-buhl ]

/ ˌɪr ɪˈspɒn sə bəl /

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See synonyms for: irresponsible / irresponsibility / irresponsibly on

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said, done, or characterized by a lack of a sense of responsibility: His refusal to work shows him to be completely irresponsible.

not capable of or qualified for responsibility, as due to age, circumstances, or a mental deficiency.

not responsible, answerable, or accountable to higher authority: irresponsible as a monarch.


an irresponsible person.

OTHER WORDS FOR irresponsible

1 unreliable, undependable, thoughtless.

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Origin of irresponsible

First recorded in 1640–50; ir-2 + responsible

OTHER WORDS FROM irresponsible

ir·re·spon·si·bil·i·ty, ir·re·spon·si·ble·ness, nounir·re·spon·si·bly, adverb

Words nearby irresponsible

irresolute, irresolution, irresolvable, irrespective, irrespirable, irresponsible, irresponsive, irretentive, irretraceable, irretrievable, irreverence Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Words related to irresponsible

capricious, immature, immoral, thoughtless, carefree, devil-may-care, feckless, fickle, flighty, fly-by-night, giddy, harebrained, ill-considered, incautious, lax, loose, no-account, rash, scatterbrained, shiftless

How to use irresponsible in a sentence

  • At the time, baseball’s plan to return without bubbles opened with scores of positive tests and seemed risky if not irresponsible.

    Sports during a pandemic seemed like a terrible idea, but they have been worth the risk|Barry Svrluga|February 1, 2021|Washington Post

  • You know, we thought they were harming patients and irresponsible.

    How to Fix the Incentives in Cancer Research (Ep. 449)|Stephen J. Dubner|January 28, 2021|Freakonomics

  • In the government, you have officials who can take irresponsible, populist views that they think the public wants to hear that are contrary, not only to morality and ethics, but also to public health interests.

    “Everyone is impressed by Israeli vaccination, but I don’t think we’re a success story”|Lindsay Muscato|January 22, 2021|MIT Technology Review

  • With their well-being in mind, it would be irresponsible if I didn’t speak out about the climate crisis.

    How company leaders can take an active role on climate change|Clay Wilkes|January 21, 2021|Quartz

  • The time travel fantasy is pure escapism, which is to say it’s both optimistic and wholly irresponsible.

    Inauguration Day was a milestone, but it’s not the destination|Monica Hesse|January 20, 2021|Washington Post

  • But what is there more irresponsible than playing with the fire of an imagined civil war in the France of today?

    Houellebecq’s Incendiary Novel Imagines France With a Muslim President|Pierre Assouline|January 9, 2015|DAILY BEAST

  • The most irresponsible comments however would have to be those of Donald Trump, since he should know better.

    2014: Revenge of the Creationists|Karl W. Giberson|December 27, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • In this context, and at this time, the action by Neil MacGregor and his Trustees might seem not merely naïve, but irresponsible.

    Britain Has Lost Its Marbles: Elgin Loan Will Appease Putin|Geoffrey Robertson|December 5, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • Conning people into buying a book to prepare for an "Ebola apocalypse" is not just irresponsible, it's pathetic.

    The Sham, Scaremongering Guide to Ebola|Abby Haglage|November 20, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • “I think the attacks on Fareed are distorted, irresponsible, and unfair,” Weisberg emailed.

    Can Fareed Zakaria Survive A Plagiarism Firestorm?|Lloyd Grove|November 12, 2014|DAILY BEAST

  • For days after I returned I wandered about out-of-doors in a gay irresponsible mood, and carolled all over the house.

    Ancestors|Gertrude Atherton

  • Our friends would call you eminently 85 practical, I suppose, and the irresponsible lady sighed.

    The Girls of Central High on the Stage|Gertrude W. Morrison

  • Drunkards are not frequent sights in the Quarter; and yet when these people do get drunk, they become as irresponsible as maniacs.

    The Real Latin Quarter|F. Berkeley Smith

  • Something in the childlike attitude, the placid, irresponsible face, brought the old servant's impatience to a climax.

    The Dragon Painter|Mary McNeil Fenollosa

  • Irresponsible as he is, he must be allowed to move about without anything to distract his attention.

    The Circular Study|Anna Katharine Green

British Dictionary definitions for irresponsible


/ (ˌɪrɪˈspɒnsəbəl) /


not showing or done with due care for the consequences of one's actions or attitudes; reckless

not capable of bearing responsibility

archaic not answerable to a higher authority for one's actions

Derived forms of irresponsible

irresponsibility or irresponsibleness, nounirresponsibly, adverb

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

What Is Responsibility Deficit Disorder? I Psych Central

It’s natural to feel overwhelmed by daily responsibilities, but if you throw caution to the wind and neglect even small obligations, it may be a sign of something more.

Your responsibilities are the things in life you’re held accountable for. They may be small duties, such as attending to your personal hygiene, or actions that impact the lives of others, such as preparing meals for your child.

Or perhaps you have trouble taking responsibility for mistakes or admitting when you’re wrong.

Some people might have told you that you’re irresponsible or immature.

If you have trouble accepting responsibility for wrongdoings or notice that you avoid taking on responsibility in your daily life, understanding the reason why this happens can help you learn to manage these behaviors.

Responsibility deficit disorder is not a clinical disorder recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, text revision (DSM-5-TR).

Instead, it’s a term given to acknowledge a consistent type of shared experience where someone displays long-term patterns of irresponsible behavior.

“Trending topics such as ‘revenge bedtime procrastination’ and ‘quiet quitting’ give language to shared experiences and provide a sense of meaning and validation when we’re able to say, ‘Yeah, me too!’ explains Kim Bielak, associate marriage and family therapist from Pasadena, California.

Living with a lack of responsibility that’s excessive and out of your control might not align with the formal criteria for any clinical diagnosis. But working with a mental health professional can help you determine whether it may be a symptom of a mental health condition and recommend strategies to help.

Lack of responsibility as a symptom

While responsibility deficit disorder is not considered a formal diagnosis, Raffaello Antonino, a counseling psychologist and senior lecturer in counseling psychology from London, notes that the behaviors may be a part of the symptomology of other DSM-5-TR mental health conditions, including:

  • antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)
  • depression
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

What sets these formal conditions apart from a persistent pattern of irresponsibility is the presence of other, more prevalent symptoms.

Antonino explains that depression, for example, often presents with low energy levels and a lack of motivation that may come off as a lack of responsibility but may be the result of mood dysregulation.

Similarly, symptoms of antisocial personality disorder involve features of irresponsible behavior, but the underlying traits are a lack of remorse and empathy — a general disregard for others.

Little research exists into why an excessive pattern of irresponsibility occurs, but several factors may come into play.


According to Antonino, the dominance of certain personality traits, for example, might be one reason you may live with a lower sense of responsibility.

“Responsibility deficit is also likely related to low conscientiousness, which is a general personality trait,” he says. “We’re all more or less conscientious. But low conscientiousness is related to a general ‘take it easy’ stance toward life and potential avoidance of responsibilities.


Bielak indicates that low responsibility may also be a response to anxiety.

She states that, more often than not, she witnesses behaviors such as avoidance, procrastination, and impulsivity as ways for people to avoid what makes them anxious or uncomfortable.

“Whether it’s fear of failure, a sense of impostor syndrome or inadequacy, or even resentment and dread related to a task at hand, people can come across as aloof, forgetful, or even dissociated when they unconsciously try to avoid things that cause them discomfort,” she says.

Bielak adds that this link to anxiety is solidified by the fact that someone may experience the opposite response in the face of anxiety — over-responsibility and micromanaging.

Narcissism as a cultural trait

Narcissism as a personality trait involves self-centered or entitled behavior that Dr. Thomas Plante, a licensed psychologist from Santa Clara, California, says has become more prevalent in modern culture.

“People too often think their troubles are due to the influence of others,” he states. “They see themselves as victims, and when they screw up, they’re quick to blame others.”

This entitled approach can take the responsibility off that person and shift the blame to someone else.

Low responsibility can be a trait of disorders such as antisocial personality disorder and depression, but recognized clinical disorders have defined diagnostic criteria that go beyond irresponsibility.

There’s no set pattern of behavior, but signs may include:

  • financial irresponsibility (such as late paying bills or frivolous spending)
  • impulsivity
  • rash decisions
  • inability to meet deadlines
  • habitual lateness
  • lack of planning ahead
  • procrastination
  • avoidance
  • forgetfulness
  • postponement
  • a need for instant gratification activities

If irresponsibility is considered a symptom of another mental health condition, such as ASPD, it may be listed as a co-occurring condition.

“In other cases, responsibility deficit can be seen as a consequence of antisocial personality disorder, and that’s when the lack of responsibility has a more chaotic character,” explains Antonino. “People who have ASPD can be highly energetic and always into something, so much so that they impulsively delay or completely disregard their main responsibilities such as family, work, and education.”

Responsibility deficit disorder vs. Peter Pan syndrome

Responsibility deficit disorder is a term used to recognize persistent patterns of irresponsibility.

Peter Pan syndrome is another informal condition that contains elements of irresponsibility. But in this condition, research from 2007 indicates that the underlying factor is a fear of loneliness, which may cause someone to cling to childhood and the need to be cared for.

Holding yourself accountable isn’t always easy. To help improve a consistent pattern of irresponsibility, consider finding ways to reinforce responsible behaviors.


You may be more likely to hold true to responsibilities if something is on the line. Plante recommends setting boundaries as a good place to start.

Outside assistance with this may be required. You can ask a friend or family member to hold you accountable if you aren’t certain you’ll be able to do it yourself.

For example, you and your partner may decide not to indulge in date night if you spent more than that week’s budget.

Addressing underlying factors

Kara Nassour, a licensed professional counselor from Austin, Texas, suggests examining why you might find responsibility a challenge.

If there’s a real issue getting in your way, such as underdeveloped organizational skills, taking steps to improve in that area may make those responsibilities less stressful.

“Remember that being responsible is a collection of habits you can develop over time, not a trait you were born without,” she says.

Anxiety management

If these behaviors stem from anxiety, developing management strategies may help.

Options include:

  • yoga and other free-flow movement formats
  • music
  • mediation
  • sleep hygiene
  • regular exercise
  • grounding techniques
  • humor
  • deep breathing exercises
  • limiting alcohol and caffeine
  • whole foods and probiotics

Enlisting assistance

You may find friends, family, and mechanical assistance can be helpful toward improving responsibility.

Friends and family can provide gentle reminders and transport help. Digital devices can be set with to-do lists and alerts.

Online bill pay can help you set up automatic payments.

Seeking professional guidance

“The best way to overcome this problem would be to start talking with a psychotherapist,” says Antonino. “CBT, thanks to its structure and focus on everyday issues, is perhaps the best approach to tackle low responsibility.”

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you set goals, monitor progress, and find which task management processes work best for you.

“Homework is often assigned to practice tasks in between sessions, then observing how the client is changing not only cognitively but also emotionally and behaviorally,” Antonino says.

Irresponsibility often impacts the lives of those close to the person displaying these behaviors. Missed obligations and lack of responsibility can leave an impression of disinterest or absence of care and consideration.

Remembering empathy

“If you or someone in your life has ongoing issues with responsibility, it’s important to come from a place of compassion,” reminds Bielak. “Just like ADHD, people’s behaviors often come from a much longer and complicated history than meets the eye, and actually make sense when put in context.”

Taking an active role

Understanding that your loved one may need assistance in managing responsibility can help you take an active role in helping them improve those behaviors.

You can offer to reach out with reminders, provide transport, or engage in the desired activity with them to encourage timeliness.

Setting your own boundaries

You can set your own boundaries for expected behavior — and stick to them.

Holding your loved one accountable can help them understand the positive and negative consequences of their actions.

Defining expectations

Defining tasks and expectations can help keep someone on task. Step-by-step processes can provide a way to reach small, attainable goals that result in the final product.

Well-defined tasks can help take the uncertainty out of major obligations that can be a source of anxiety and apprehension.

Small goals can also help build a sense of accomplishment that rewards responsible behavior.

While responsibility deficit disorder isn’t a recognized clinical diagnosis in the DSM-5-RT, excessive responsibility deficit is real and is an experience shared by many others.

Anxiety, cultural norms, and personality traits may all play a role in these behaviors, and for some people, might be a symptom of an underlying mental health condition such as depression, ADHD, or ASPD.

Whether you or a loved one is living with an excessive responsibility deficit, establishing boundaries, accountability, and managing anxiety may help limit the impact on your life.

Sense of responsibility - Psikhologos

Sense of responsibility - an inner feeling of responsibility to answer and readiness to answer for this or that.

A particular person's sense of responsibility may be in one area and absent (not expressed) in another. A person can be extremely responsible in his obligations to others and little responsible in relation to his own health, his fate and life. See Responsibility for yourself.

A sense of responsibility is the feeling of "I can" and "I must" fulfill my obligations, together with an internal obligation to answer for the consequences of my actions.

For an active and positive person, this is, first of all, a mindset for business, an understanding that agreements, obligations and duty - all this must be done, fulfilled. For an emotional and negative-minded person - anxiety for a possible failure and guilt in case of failure.

In any mood, a sense of responsibility is reliability, a person's readiness to honestly and diligently fulfill agreements and their duties (readiness to carry what is supposed to), plus willingness to pay for punctures. Willingness, with reasonable necessity, to take on difficult moments of life. nine0003

When people talk about a sense of responsibility, they usually mean social responsibility, a sense of social responsibility. A sense of personal responsibility is nearby, but this is different: this is an internal understanding that this business needs to be done, and it is I who should do it.

A person with a developed sense of responsibility is a responsible person.

Responsible position - more active than a sense of responsibility. This is the willingness and ability, with reasonable necessity, to take on difficult moments of life. nine0003

A developed sense of responsibility is a sign of adulthood. Not being ready to bear anything serious and to answer for anything is a sign of a human child. The one who avoids carrying anything and answering (paying) for anything is irresponsible, a person with the position of a Dependent. See →

The feeling of responsibility should not be confused with the feeling of guilt. A sense of guilt does not replace a sense of responsibility: sometimes it hinders the cause, but sometimes it is useful.

There is an old rule: the engineer who built the bridge stands under it while the first train is coming. This is called - "responsibility for the result." Willingness to pay for the result with life is an indicator of a high degree of responsibility. nine0003

Responsibility is a powerful tool for changing the quality of life and an effective means of shaping desired events in one's life. Responsibility, as one of the most important social skills, can be developed, and in its absence - brought up.

If you wish, you can instill a sense of responsibility in yourself. See Education and Development of Responsibility

A heightened sense of responsibility is a tendency to hyper-responsibility. A person with an undeveloped sense of responsibility is called irresponsible. nine0003

In difficult or unpleasant situations, people of a high level of psychological culture, responsible people, think about responsibility and take responsibility. People of a lower level of culture in these situations either worry or look for the culprit (to dump their aggression on him, to relieve himself of responsibility).

Is it possible to be responsible for your love? See Responsibility in Love

How much, when and why take personal responsibility?

Taking personal responsibility means seeing yourself as the source of all actions in your life and their consequences. nine0003

Throwing all responsibility on yourself is as stupid as running away from responsibility or shifting all responsibility to others. How to approach this wisely - see Attitude to Responsibility and Alignment of Responsibility

How to learn responsibility

Responsibility is a skill. It can be developed and nurtured both in oneself and in the people around. See - Education and development of responsibility.

How to manage responsibility?

How to technically increase or decrease responsibility, how to delegate part of the responsibility to others - see How to manage responsibility.

The consequences of being responsible and there is no position

Either you take responsibility, or you suffer and envy.

What helps a person to be responsible – News – IQ Research and Education Portal – National Research University Higher School of Economics

The feeling of freedom and the feeling of responsibility are directly related to each other. This was proved for the first time on experimental data with the participation of respondents from Russia and the United States by a group of scientists from the International Laboratory for Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation of the Higher School of Economics, the University of Missouri and Omsk State University. nine0003

When there is a choice, and when there is none

The concepts of "freedom" and "responsibility" are considered in various sciences, including philosophy, ethics, and psychology. However, the relationship between these concepts and its nature have not been studied in practice so far. The study showed that the path to responsibility lies through the support of freedom. Responsibility can be accepted by a person voluntarily when he is given sufficient freedom to do so.

Scientists have conducted a series of studies, the participants of which were students of Russian and American universities - a total of 1430 people. In Russia, the study was conducted in three regions - the Altai Territory, Tomsk and Omsk Regions, and in the USA - in Missouri, on the basis of the University of Missouri. nine0003

Freedom is a personal or social good, which is considered by various sciences in such terms as will, autonomy, individualism, etc. According to the Oxford Dictionary, it is the ability or right to act, speak or think as one wishes, without impediment or limitation.

The study uses the concept of "autonomy" to define freedom. In the framework of the psychological theory of self-determination (Self-Determination Theory), it means one of the basic human needs. Without choice, this basic need suffers, resulting in decreased psychological well-being and other negative outcomes. nine0003

The study used methods that measure the level of responsibility and autonomy as personal qualities. The results showed that these characteristics themselves are associated. The higher the level of autonomy a person has, the more responsible he is.

During the main part of the experiment, participants were asked to imagine themselves in specially simulated situations and describe their feelings and intended actions. The person who gave the order (a close person, a representative of authority, a stranger) either emphasized or did not emphasize the freedom of choice regarding how to implement the task, as well as responsibility for the result. For example, a student was asked to imagine that he was offered to carry out a scientific project in an important discipline for him on behalf of a professor. In one case, the freedom to choose actions was provided, in the other, the professor determined the strategy of actions, the student just implemented it. Then, according to the scenario, the project turned out to be unsuccessful. Participants had to evaluate whether they acknowledge their own actions as the reason for this or attribute the failure to external circumstances and look for excuses. nine0003

Emphasis on “should” does not work

In situations where respondents were given freedom, they felt more responsibility and were ready to accept possible negative consequences, as well as look for fewer excuses. At the same time, as the results showed, it is ineffective to appeal to responsibility - this does not lead to an increase in the willingness to take it.

Scholars note that responsibility is greater when there is support for autonomy from people who have power or authority. These are, for example, parents, teachers, leaders, etc. “The ability to choose, respect and understanding from the side of the leader, representative of authority, etc. , is what helps a person grow and be more effective,” the study says. On the contrary, the wording “should”, “should”, etc. are the least effective and operate on the principle of the opposite. nine0003

Russian characteristics

The results were similar for both Russian and US respondents. But some cultural differences emerged. The Russians are still less inclined to take responsibility than the Americans. The authors attribute this to a different level of freedom in society.

The study, however, showed that participants from Russian regions are more sensitive to the fact of who gives the task and how it is done. Responsibility is higher than that of Americans when the source of the request is a close one - a relative or friend. The main factor in this case is trust. This should not be a demand, but a request. “These results can be used in the field of management and politics, when individual responsibility is required from Russians,” the authors of the study believe. nine0003


Study authors:

Kennon Sheldon, Research Supervisor, International Laboratory for Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation, Higher School of Economics, University of Missouri.

Tamara Gordeeva, Leading Researcher, International Laboratory for Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation, Higher School of Economics

Dmitry Leontiev, Head, International Laboratory for Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation, National Research University Higher School of Economics

Martin Lynch, Leading Researcher, International Laboratory for Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation, National Research University Higher School of Economics

Evgeniy Osin, Deputy Head of the International Laboratory for Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation, National Research University Higher School of Economics

Elena Rasskazova, Leading Researcher, International Laboratory for Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation, National Research University Higher School of Economics

Ludmila Dementiy, Omsk State University F.

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