Bear’s CARE Focus

Bear- Yellow Border    ethical-spectrum-logo-wedge-yellow-no-borders-plus-grey-2-0


Why a Bear?

Bailey, like many bears, is known for being nurturing and protective. Bailey and people who prefer the Care Focus care deeply about treating others well.

Main Consideration:

When deciding what’s right, Bailey and others with a Care Focus tend to focus on treating others as they would like to be treated. They CARE enough to put themselves in other’s shoes (or paws).


Like Bailey, someone with a Care Focus may ask themselves: “How can I treat others as I’d like to be treated?” They believe in the importance of trying to see things through someone else’s viewpoint.


1. EMPATHY. Bailey was catching salmon at a prime spot in the river with a group of other bears. A new bear came over and wanted to catch salmon too. No one made an effort to welcome or make room for the new bear, even though there was plenty of room, and plenty of salmon. Bailey thought “how would I want to be treated if I were that new bear” and decided to make room and welcome them. Bailey can help us focus on empathy, and on how others would want to be treated.

2. SELF-RESTRAINT. Bailey’s friend stole some food. In order to protect themself, the friend lied and told others that Bailey did it. Bailey was very upset. Bailey initially thought “maybe I should do the same to them, to show them how it feels.” Bailey took some time, thought some more, and decided that “even though they treated me like that, I would not want to be treated in that way if I were them, so I won’t retaliate.” Bailey can help us focus on self-restraint.


1. SPECULATION. Sometimes, Bailey’s speculation about how others want to be treated can be very wrong. Some want direct feedback without any sugarcoating (Bailey calls it “honey-coating it”) and they get upset about wasted time. They say “just tell me directly that I’m annoying you and let’s move on, I can take it.” Others prefer to be comforted and reassured with some positive feedback before any critiques. When a critique comes too quickly, they say “you really hurt my feelings”. Even though Bailey asks whenever possible, Bailey is not always aware or able to find out how others want to be treated. This is especially true when decisions affect many others, including those Bailey doesn’t know well. To help in these situations, Bailey sometimes consults with friends with a different focus (e.g. Elly the Elephant’s Consult Focus).

2. JUSTICE DENIED. One day, Bailey needed to decide what to do about someone who was having a very negative influence on Bailey’s group of friends. This group member was consistently very rude and disruptive, and they waited for everyone else to do all the work. Since Bailey focuses on “how would I/they want to be treated?” Bailey decided to let it go and not confront them since that’s what Bailey would want if the roles were reversed. Bailey cares so much about those who act irresponsibly that Bailey doesn’t always hold them accountable for their bad behavior (Bailey often wouldn’t want to be held accountable either). Bailey’s focus on care for others can sometimes lead to a lack of fairness/justice. Sometimes Bailey needs help from friends with a different focus area (e.g. Whitley the Wolf’s Consequences Focus).

Theoretical Background:

Golden Rule or Care-based Ethics (based on the wisdom of Carol Gilligan, Confucius and others).


Bailey the Bear represents a very important and respected focus area (CARE) from moral philosophy. However, no focus area is perfect. To balance out the challenges above, Bear’s CARE should be combined with other focus areas like Wolf’s CONSEQUENCES and the Elephant CONSULTant. Combining focus areas is called PLURALISM and can be very beneficial.

Next Steps:

1. Remind yourself of the strengths and challenges of your main focus animal/color. This can help you anticipate benefits and identify potential problems down the road. For example, if you only focus on the Golden Rule (Bear’s Care focus: yellow/gold), you may not hold someone accountable for their behavior because you would not would to be held accountable if you were in their situation.

2. Pick one other focus area (another animal/color) to read more about (see This can help you better understand the strengths and challenges of different decision-making strategies and help you see the benefits of uniting the focus areas (“Unite to light the way”) since they can counteract each other’s challenges.

3. We all need reminders. Use the Take5 card ( to help you make well-balanced decisions (individually or in groups).


To better understand this focus area, see the PDF Handout.


Overall Conclusion about the focus areas of the animals:

The Otter, Hawk, Wolf, Bear and Elephant represent very respected views from moral philosophy. We recommend combining the views of these 5 animals to balance out their strengths and weaknesses. For some tips on how to do this, please see the ethicspectrum page.

For George Mason University community members who would like to learn more, the Leadership Education and Development Office (LEAD) offers workshops and other programs on ethics and leadership topics. The workshop that directly addresses the ethics and leadership topics discussed on this website is called: “What Would You Do? Making Tough Ethical Choices.” Please see our general page at or our workshop request page.