It refers to the ethics that a person may adhere to in respect of their interactions and business dealings in their professional life. Public and Personal relationships are those that exist by the virtue of profession or the position one holds in professional life.

Main principles of ethics in public relations can be summarized as

  • Selflessness: Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.
  • Integrity: Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organizations.
  • Objectivity: In carrying out public business, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
  • Accountability: An employee must be accountable and answerable for his/her actions taken in respect of personal capacity in public service.
  • Openness: Holders of public office should be as open and transparent as possible
  • Honesty: Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties.
  • Loyalty to the Organization
  • Spirit of Service
  • Fairness & Justice
  • Discipline and Dedication  


It refers to the ethics that a person identifies with respect to people and situations that they deal with in everyday life. It largely involves relations with family and friends. They are based on emotional bonds rather than any formal procedure that regulates them and therefore, they are informal in nature.

Private relationships are often given or inherited. They are relatively permanent with more tolerance for imperfections.

  • The Ethical standards and moral values adopted by person during his personal life refer to Ethics in Private Relationships.
  • Freedom of Willforms the basic foundation of Private Ethics. It means freedom to act or not to act. Example: One should speak Truth but you are at full freedom to speak lie as well.
  • Private Relationships are One to One and based on emotions, Informal in nature, internally controlled instead of external control (law, rules etc).
  • Ramayana is a classic example of ethics in personal relationships. Although ethics in private life varies from person to person but there are some common underlying principles that are accepted by the society.
  • For example –
  1. Loyalty – loyalty to one’s partner and to the family members
  2. Love – loving all the members of family with their imperfections
  3. Affection – caring for needs of all the members as your own


Personal ethics refer to morality applicable in family and social relationships. Whereas Professional ethics are the codes which prescribe for professionals like doctors and engineers safe and appropriate methods of working in the interests of clients and society.

Making distinction between private and public ethics is a dubious one because in general a person lives by same ethical values both in public and private lives. For Example: The way a civil servant treats women in his family is reflected in how he handles female co-workers or whether policies implemented by him have a gender bias or not.

There should be no conflict between personal and professional ethics as it may lead to frustration, guilt, confusion & dissonance in the mind of some persons. Ethics in public life places a greater responsibility & person cannot always follow his personal ethics. For example personally you may feel abortion is morally wrong, but if you are a doctor, you need to do abortion according to your professional ethics. When performing a role in public, we need to separate our personal lives and follow professional code of conduct strictly.