Conscience: A person's sense of values, that may help the person to do the morally or ethically approved or good thing in some group or society.
Since a conscience, as defined, is part of a person's consciousness, and that person indeed may lie about the values
he holds in fact and works for (as salesmen invariably pretend to serve
your interests, in order to serve their own), it often is not at all
clear what a person really thinks, morally speaking: See Moral norms - features of.
Then again, most adult persons have some sort of conscience, and indeed
cannot function in human society without at least acting according to
its dominant norms of behavior, whether they approve or not.
And a complicating factor is that the strength and content of
individual consciences differ considerably, while some persons - often
known as psychopaths, though this also tends to involve further
characteristics - have no conscience at all, and feel very little
empathy with others. This also allows them to rise high in any society,
group or institution, if they are tolerably intelligent: They are capable of many things others tend not to do.
Finally, it should be pointed out that much that seems or feels
inspired by one's own conscience is in fact mostly or wholly inspired
by the knowledge that one is being watched, and will get into
difficulties if those watching one disapprove of what one does. Then
again, there are persons who are capable of great heroism through being
a conscientious human being, who keeps trying to do what he thinks is
the right thing, also in the face of strong opposition.
See also: Moral norms - features of
Gregory, Hilgard & Atkinson