"Individuals will often accept intellectual arguments, understand their need to change, and express commitment to changing, but then resort to what is familiar."

(source: Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress By Lawrence E. Harrison, ‎Samuel P. Huntington)

What does the phrase "commitment to changing" exactly mean in the sentence? Which of the two below is correct?

  1. commitment to their determination to change the things if necessary that have not been changed "yet".
  2. commitment to the things that have been changed "already"

What does commitment mean here? Does it mean like a promise or determination? Could you help me clarify it? Thank you always.

3 Answers 3


The idea is that people will say they see the need to change, but then in practice do not do anything about it. Commitment is a fashionable word, especially in management books, and its overuse has weakened its meaning: it used to mean a firm promise that should never be broken; but now it means no more than someone saying they will do something without any certainty that they ever will. That is what the author is saying in the passage quoted.


Neither, actually. In this context the author says that people "commit to changing" -- but only in words, not in actions. A similar example:

My uncle always swore he would give up drinking -- he even committed to do so with one hand on the Bible and the other on his heart -- but in the end he always crawled back to the bottle.

I don't feel this weakens the word "commitment" (or synonyms like pledge, swear, avow, promise, etc.), as a lack of individual fidelity is hardly unique to the English-speaking world. All cultures have terms for making and breaking oaths.


In my opinion in the extract the word "commitment to do sth" is used in a sense "willingness to do sth" rather then "an oath of doing sth". To put it in terms of your question, it clearly means determination to do what hasn't been done yet.

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