Testing a social-cognitive model of moral behavior: the interactive influence of situations and moral identity centrality

Karl Aquino, Dan Freeman, Americus Reed, Will Felps, Vivien K G Lim
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2009, 97 (1): 123-41
This article proposes and tests a social-cognitive framework for examining the joint influence of situational factors and the centrality of moral identity on moral intentions and behaviors. The authors hypothesized that if a situational factor increases the current accessibility of moral identity within the working self-concept, then it strengthens the motivation to act morally. In contrast, if a situational factor decreases the current accessibility of moral identity, then it weakens the motivation to act morally. The authors also expected the influence of situational factors to vary depending on the extent to which moral identity was central to a person's overall self-conception. Hypotheses derived from the framework were tested in 4 studies. The studies used recalling and reading a list of the Ten Commandments (Study 1), writing a story using morally laden terms (Study 4), and the presence of performance-based financial incentives (Studies 2 and 3) as situational factors. Participants' willingness to initiate a cause-related marketing program (Study 1), lie to a job candidate during a salary negotiation (Studies 2 and 3), and contribute to a public good (Study 4) were examined. Results provide strong support for the proposed framework.

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