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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31769

Title: Toward a General Model of Moral Regulation: How Fluctuations in General Integrity Influence Moral Behavior
Authors: Gu, Jun
Advisor: Leonardelli, Geoffrey
Department: Management
Keywords: Ethics
Self-integrity
Issue Date: 9-Jan-2012
Abstract: Morality has been a central topic of philosophy throughout Western civilization. Integrity is almost synonymous with morality. However, recent widespread corporate scandals challenge our belief that individuals, who at one moment are perceived to live by the standards of integrity, will consistently be moral. Moral self-regulation research (Monin & Miller, 2001; Zhong & Liljenquist, 2006; Zhong, Liljenquist, & Cain, 2009) investigates how people’s perception of their own integrity influences morality and proposes, counter-intuitively, that boosting a sense of integrity would reduce moral behavior (moral licensing) and threatening integrity would increase moral behavior (moral cleansing). This dissertation aims at developing this research by broadening the concept of integrity and by understanding the role that moral identity plays (Aquino & Reed, 2002). I argue that integrity is not only associated with whether one behaves consistently with moral values, but also with whether one behaves consistently with non-moral values, which are also strongly held beliefs but do not involve others’ well-being. Drawing on self-affirmation theory (Steele, 1988), I argue that self-integrity associated with non-moral values (non-moral self-integrity) could influence moral behavior in a similar way as self-integrity associated with moral values (moral self-integrity). I further argue that some individuals are more subject to the influence of self-integrity than others, and moral identity, the relative importance one assigns to morality within one’s self-conception, can identify when concerns with self-integrity will matter in moral domains. Different theories, however, predict two alternative ways that moral identity could moderate licensing and cleansing effects. Evidence from moral identity research suggests that the effects would be weaker among individuals high in moral identity because these individuals are more resilient towards psychological mechanisms that lead to variations in moral behavior. However, self-affirmation theory suggests that the effects would be stronger among individuals high in moral identity because these individuals’ self-integrity are more closely connected to morality and thus they are more likely to manage changes in integrity through moral self-regulation. Four studies were conducted to test the effects of non-moral self-integrity and moral identity on four forms of moral behaviors: volunteering, donating, cheating, and ethical leadership. The accumulative evidence supports the argument that boosted non-moral self-integrity reduced moral behavior and threatened non-moral self-integrity increases moral behavior. In addition, the data supported the prediction derived from self-affirmation theory, namely that licensing and cleansing effects resulting from non-moral self-integrity maintenance were stronger among individuals high in moral identity. This dissertation extends moral self-regulation research by revealing a more thorough connection between integrity and moral behavior and by identifying an important boundary condition of this research. It also has implications for managerial research on leader integrity and using integrity tests in personnel selection.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31769
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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