When Moral Identity Symbolization Motivates Prosocial Behavior: The Role of Recognition and Moral Identity Internalization

Journal of Applied Psychology, Forthcoming

36 Pages Posted: 7 May 2013 Last revised: 18 May 2014

See all articles by Karen Page Winterich

Karen Page Winterich

Pennsylvania State University - Mary Jean and Frank P. Smeal College of Business Administration

Karl Aquino

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Division of Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources

Vikas Mittal

Rice University

Richard Swartz

Rice University - Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business

Date Written: May 6, 2013

Abstract

This paper examines the role of moral identity symbolization in motivating prosocial behaviors. We propose a three-way interaction of moral identity symbolization, internalization, and recognition to predict prosocial behavior. When moral identity internalization is low, we hypothesize that high moral identity symbolization motivates recognized prosocial behavior due to the opportunity to present one’s moral characteristics to others. In contrast, when moral identity internalization is high, prosocial behavior is motivated irrespective of the level of symbolization and recognition. Two studies provide support for this pattern examining volunteering of time. Our results provide a framework for predicting prosocial behavior by combining the two dimensions of moral identity with the situational factor of recognition.

Keywords: prosocial behavior, symbolization, internalization, recognition, moral identity

Suggested Citation

Winterich, Karen Page and Aquino, Karl and Mittal, Vikas and Swartz, Richard, When Moral Identity Symbolization Motivates Prosocial Behavior: The Role of Recognition and Moral Identity Internalization (May 6, 2013). Journal of Applied Psychology, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2261193

Karen Page Winterich (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University - Mary Jean and Frank P. Smeal College of Business Administration ( email )

University Park, PA 16802
United States

Karl Aquino

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Division of Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources ( email )

2053 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2
Canada

Vikas Mittal

Rice University ( email )

6100 South Main Street
250 McNair
Houston, TX 77005-1892
United States

Richard Swartz

Rice University - Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business ( email )

6100 South Main Street
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77005-1892
United States

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