When moral identity symbolization motivates prosocial behavior: The role of recognition and moral identity internalization

Karen Page Winterich, Karl Aquino, Vikas Mittal, Richard Swartz

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75 Scopus citations


This article examines the role of moral identity symbolization in motivating prosocial behaviors. We propose a 3-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 2 dimensions of moral identity with the situational factor of recognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)759-770
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology

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