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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ronald and Nancy Reagan salute the American flag aboard the battleship USS Iowa, in order to demonstrate respect for the flag and the nation.
Muslim practitioners performing Sajdah or Sujud, in order to demonstrate devotion, a kind of respect due to a God.

Respect denotes both a positive feeling of esteem for a person or other entity (such as a nation or a religion), and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. Respect can be a specific feeling of regard for the actual qualities of the one respected (e.g., "I have great respect for her judgment"). It can also be conduct in accord with a specific ethic of respect. Rude conduct is usually considered to indicate a lack of respect, whereas actions that honor somebody or something indicate respect.

Specific ethics of respect are of fundamental importance to various cultures. Respect for tradition and legitimate authority is identified by Jonathan Haidt as one of five fundamental moral values shared to a greater or lesser degree by different societies and individuals.[1]

Respect should not be confused with tolerance, since tolerance doesn't necessarily imply any positive feeling, and is not incompatible with contempt, which is the opposite of respect.



The word respect comes from the latin respicere which means look behind. It evokes the idea of judging something regarding what has been done in the past when it is worth being acknowledged. Thus, the notion of respect implies that it can be applied to a person who has done something well, but also to anything that has been stated in the past, such as a promise, the rules of a game, the law, and so on.[citation needed]

This is also the reason why in most languages, it is said that respect has to be earned or deserved.[citation needed]

Kinds of Respect


Respect for Superiors

Respect, and outward signs of respect, are used in hierarchical organizations to reinforce values of obedience and submission.

Military organizations maintain discipline by requiring respect from members. For example, in the United States armed forces, conspicuous contempt toward officials is a punishable offense. The system of military rank relies on subordinates respecting their superiors.

Respect for and loyalty to one's lord is an important part of the ethics of Chivalry and Bushido.

Organized crime syndicates such as the Mafia and the Yakuza also rely on an ethic of respect for superiors.

Respect for Parents and the Elderly

In many societies, people are expected to be respectful of their parents and other elders. In Confucianism, filial piety is the virtue of showing respect to ones parents.

Respect for Nations

Most societies expect members to be patriotic, showing respect to the nation as a whole.

This respect is sometimes extended to concrete symbols of the nation, such as flags. Respect for the American flag is shown by adhering to a list of rules as to its display: it must not be flown at night, it must not be allowed to become ragged, and so on.

Respect in Religion

Many religions require specific gestures of respect towards religious figures and religious artifacts. Examples include genuflection towards bishops or consecrated hosts in the Catholic church, and zemnoy poklon in the Eastern Orthodox church.

Respect for Other Cultures

Intercultural competence is an ethic of respecting many different cultures, usually in accordance with each culture's specific notions of respect.

Signs of Respect


Respect is shown in many languages by following specific grammatical conventions, especially in referring to individuals.

An honorific is a word or expression (often a pronoun) that conveys respect when used in addressing or referring to a person. Typically honorifics are used for second and third persons; use for first person is less common. Some languages have anti-honorific or despective first person forms (meaning something like "your most humble servant" or "this unworthy person") whose effect is to enhance the relative honor accorded a second or third person.

A Style (manner of address) is a legal, official, or recognized title which by tradition or law precedes a reference to a person who holds a post, or which is used to refer to the political office itself. Styles are particularly associated with monarchies, where they may be used by a wife of an office holder or of a prince of the blood, for the duration of their marriage. They are also almost universally used for presidents in republics and in many countries for members of legislative bodies, higher-ranking judges and senior constitutional office holders. Leading religious figures also have styles.

Honorific speech is a more general term encompassing any special grammatical rules that indicate more respect on the part of the speaker. For example, in Japanese, all verbs are conjugated differently in the honorific mode, even when they are not directly related to figure of respect.

Gestures and Actions

There are many gestures whose main purpose is to indicate respect, such as:


External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

This article is a travel topic.

Travellers usually wish to respect the people, culture and environment they are visiting. You are also leaving impressions of your culture on the places you visit. There are some general guidelines that help to show respect at most destinations. Accordingly, these guidelines do not need to be repeated in the destination guides.



Many people are happy to talk about politics and religion and their viewpoints. But these topics must always be approached carefully by visitors, and many people just think it easier to avoid these subjects altogether.


Some people in all cultures find swearing offensive, and it usually varies between people at a destination. Sometimes it differs by region, sometimes by gender. Take your cues from the individuals you are talking to at the time, or simply don't swear to avoid the possibility of offence. At your destination people might use language or words that you find offensive, but which they may not.

Also, slang and swear words can be poorly understood, or have entirely different connotations or meanings at a destination.


Jokes that mention race, jokes in bad taste, or about disasters or terrorist attacks are best avoided. You can often hear locals making jokes of this genre, but somehow the jokes aren't quite as funny and can be offensive when told by a visitor.

Deprecating comments

Some criticism of local government and other local institutions is common at most destinations. However, when this criticism comes from a visitor there is always the risk that the same criticism will be taken personally. Offence can occur even if all the visitor does is agree with the criticisms made by a resident.

Symbols of a country, such as the flag or head-of-state, or even the captain of the local sporting team, can be legitimate subject of discussion and derision for locals, but can easily cause offence if similar comments are made by a visitor.

Local sensitivities

Areas often have local sensitivities, due to historical conflicts and local rivalries. It can be insulting to refer to a smaller neighbouring independent country or region as part of a larger neighbouring one, best to be aware, and be accurate. Some regions have disputed territories, and even if the governments have reached agreement, people can have strong opinions.


There are stereotypes about most nations and cultures. Some are at least partly accurate; others are utterly bogus.

Avoid inflicting your stereotypes on locals. Most people in the destination you are visiting are almost always aware of the stereotype, and will have heard the joke before. Some may be offended.

Be prepared for locals to have some stereotypes about, or amazing ignorance of, your culture. Gently correcting these is fine; it may even work. Getting dramatically offended about them makes you look ridiculous and is quite unlikely to change anything.


Imitating the local accent will usually be taken as an attempt to mock it, rather than as a genuine attempt to communicate.

Acknowledging others

In large cities it would generally be impossible to acknowledge others that you pass. However, when there are few people around, say on a non-urban track, it is commonplace to make some acknowledgement of a person as you pass. A greeting in the local language, or if you don't speak the local language, a look or a nod is usually sufficient.



Regardless of the legal position at destinations, public nudity is generally only acceptable in designated locations.


In many countries beachwear is just for the beach. Avoid wearing beachwear away from the beach, unless you see local cues that it is okay.

Public behavior


In a crowded place, be considerate of those around you by stepping to the side when stopping, so others may pass. Take care not to jostle or otherwise bump into those around you

Sacred places

Sacred places include constructed religious sites, cemeteries, tombs and memorials, and land significant to indigenous culture. Some of these sites are interesting destinations for travellers.

Access to some of these sacred places can be restricted entirely, or even restricted to people of a certain religion or gender, and these restrictions should be observed.

Dressing conservatively and showing respect are appropriate anywhere, but details vary by place. It is a very good idea to learn a bit about the local rules before venturing near a scared place. In most Christian churches, a man should remove his hat, but in a synagogue he should don a yarmulka, and to enter a mosque he should remove his shoes.

Keep voices down anywhere; in some places, silence is required. Mobile phones should be silent. Children are not normally excluded, and rules regarding dress or noise are often not as strictly enforced for young children. Often there is some tolerance of very young children crying, but usually less so for older children running around.

Religious buildings and sacred places may be actively used for ceremonial purposes or for services, in addition being destinations for travellers. It is better to wait for a service or ceremony to conclude before visiting.


The volumes of visitors to sites of environmental significance can often threaten the environment they came to see. In natural environments, stay to the walkways, don't make new tracks, don't remove natural features, and dispose of any litter/trash in the appropriate bins, or take it with you.

See Leave-no-trace camping and Scuba diving for more on this topic.


Taking pictures of people requires sensitivity. Photography of people as part of a scene is generally okay. Photography of people involved in an attraction is generally okay also. Whether legally permitted or not, it is best to obtain permission to photograph individuals going about their daily life. Sometimes this can just take the form of a smile while pointing at your camera. In some countries it is common for someone being photographed in this way to ask for money. Taking pictures of children is often sensitive, and can worry their parents.

In some areas, photographing military installations, government buildings, border areas, or even bridges can get you in trouble. Some governments are distinctly paranoid and may consider such photos a threat to national security.

See Travel photography for more.

Law enforcement

It's best to show deference to local law enforcement, as in some places they are armed and almost anywhere they have the authority to arrest or otherwise hassle you. Avoid insulting, threatening, or otherwise aggravating them.

This applies in particular to border officials since they can easily delay your trip, mess up your luggage or even your body with intrusive searches, deny you entry to their country, and make a note in their computer system that will get you denied if you return.

In some areas, various non-government groups may also be armed and dangerous. See War zone safety.

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