Symbolic Moral Self-Completion – Social Recognition of Prosocial Behavior Reduces Subsequent Moral Striving

Please always quote using this URN: urn:nbn:de:bvb:20-opus-211327
  • According to theories on moral balancing, a prosocial act can decrease people’s motivation to engage in subsequent prosocial behavior, because people feel that they have already achieved a positive moral self-perception. However, there is also empirical evidence showing that people actually need to be recognized by others in order to establish and affirm their self-perception through their prosocial actions. Without social recognition, moral balancing could possibly fail. In this paper, we investigate in two laboratory experiments how socialAccording to theories on moral balancing, a prosocial act can decrease people’s motivation to engage in subsequent prosocial behavior, because people feel that they have already achieved a positive moral self-perception. However, there is also empirical evidence showing that people actually need to be recognized by others in order to establish and affirm their self-perception through their prosocial actions. Without social recognition, moral balancing could possibly fail. In this paper, we investigate in two laboratory experiments how social recognition of prosocial behavior influences subsequent moral striving. Building on self-completion theory, we hypothesize that social recognition of prosocial behavior (self-serving behavior) weakens (strengthens) subsequent moral striving. In Study 1, we show that a prosocial act leads to less subsequent helpfulness when it was socially recognized as compared to a situation without social recognition. Conversely, when a self-serving act is socially recognized, it encourages subsequent helpfulness. In Study 2, we replicate the effect of social recognition on moral striving in a more elaborated experimental setting and with a larger participant sample. We again find that a socially recognized prosocial act leads to less subsequent helpfulness compared to an unrecognized prosocial act. Our results shed new light on the boundary conditions of moral balancing effects and underscore the view that these effects can be conceptualized as a dynamic of self-completion.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author: Moritz Susewind, Gari Walkowitz
URN:urn:nbn:de:bvb:20-opus-211327
Document Type:Journal article
Faculties:Medizinische Fakultät / Klinik und Poliklinik für Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie, Psychosomatik und Psychotherapie
Language:English
Parent Title (English):Frontiers in Psychology
ISSN:1664-1078
Year of Completion:2020
Volume:11
Article Number:560188
Source:Frontiers in Psychology 2020, 11:560188.doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.560188
DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.560188
Dewey Decimal Classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Tag:moral balancing; prosocial behavior; self-regulation; social influence; social recognition
Release Date:2021/04/22
Date of first Publication:2020/09/04
Licence (German):License LogoCC BY: Creative-Commons-Lizenz: Namensnennung 4.0 International