We propose that exposure to moral identity symbolization (i.e., outwardly projected displays of one's morality) leads observers to increase their helping behavior because they perceive the symbolizer as more scrutinizing of their moral characters, especially when observers expect or have an ongoing relationship with the symbolizer. We further propose that the effect of moral identity symbolization on observer behavior is diminished when symbolization involves behaviors that threaten the autonomy of observers (i.e., moral proselytizing). Empirical data from four studies, consisting of field surveys and experiments, supports our hypotheses. Taken together, this research suggests that moral identity symbolization in the workplace leads to helping behavior in observers as a function of heightened perceptions of moral scrutiny, but that such outward display of morality is only related to helping behavior when the symbolizers avoid proselytizing and when there is an ongoing relationship between the observers and the symbolizers.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||16|
|Journal||Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes|
|State||Published - Jan 2020|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by an Insight Grant awarded to the lead author, Dr. Luke Zhu, by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada ( 435-2018-0490 ).
- Moral identity
- Moral psychology
- Unethical behavior